Minutes: March 25, 2008


Report of the meeting of the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, March 25, 2008, at 3:10 p.m. in Room 3129, South Building.

Present: A. Lange (in the Chair), G. Averill, D. Crocker, J. Sidnell, J. Poe, S. Munro, N. Copeland, C. Evans, A. Bendlin, B. Katz, M. Lippincott, R. Gerlai, S. Baumann, J. McCurdy-Myers, T. Al-Sarraj, J.P. Paluzzi, M.L. Smith, S. Meza
Regrets: U. Krull, I. Whyte, L. Thomson
In attendance: L. Snowden, Assistant Dean

1. Minutes of the previous meeting (February 26, 2008)

The minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Reports of Committees and Officers

a) Guidelines for University of Toronto Mississauga Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations – Professor Gage Averill

The Dean reported that a significant aspect of the workload of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents (OCAV) over the past year was the development of a document on undergraduate degree level expectations. OCAV then decided to mandate universities to develop a similar document, with the requirement that degree level expectations be available for external reviews. He added that these guidelines would be a consideration in the curriculum development for all Ontario universities. The Faculty of Arts & Science, Scarborough and UTM were asked to develop their own documents and take them through governance by the end of the spring.

Professor Averill listed the members of UTM’s Degree Level Expectations Committee. He noted that the membership was selected to ensure that a broad range of disciplines and perspectives were represented and to draw on the expertise of individuals who have some experience in curriculum ‘mapping’ and/or a history with this current exercise. As part of the process the committee carefully analyzed the original OCAV guidelines, paying particular attention to the clarity of the language and their applicability to the UTM student experience. This led both to the creation of an administrative appendix and a redrafting of the language used within each category. The preamble was conceived to provide valuable context to program reviewers and planners.

Professor Averill explained that UTM’s proposed guidelines remained true to the spirit and standards of the original document, but some new features were worth highlighting. In the communication section, additions were made in the expectation that students will “use new and emerging technologies effectively”, recognizing the role of electronic forms of communication, such as Email and Blackboard, in creating forums for debate, enquiry, and interpersonal exchange, both within academic programs and the broader community. In the section on “Autonomy and Professional Capacity”, language was drafted that spoke specifically to the values that underpin the university’s academic community, including freedom of expression and enquiry, equity, inclusion, and academic integrity.

He reported that the committee ‘road-tested’ the draft, rigorously measuring the final draft against a number of programs. The results were reassuring in that it was found that there was a good fit and that UTM’s sample programs more than satisfied the guidelines. The document was also reviewed, and very well received by all of the UTM chairs and members of the Principal’s Table.

The Dean noted that in keeping with the practice of other first-entry divisions at the University, the Committee started with the six general categories contained in the OCAV document. These guidelines encompass a range of competencies that students will acquire as part of their overall degree experience.

The Dean expressed his hope that the document could be used creatively to look at programs and curriculum by external reviewers as a diagnostic tool. He thanked the Assistant Dean, Ms. Lynn Snowden for stewarding the document’s development.

It was duly moved and seconded,

THAT the guidelines for University of Toronto Mississauga Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval, effective July 1, 2008. (G. Averill/M.L. Smith)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion of the motion.

The Registrar pointed out that at the beginning of the document references to “B.A., B.Sc.” should include the letter “H” as a prefix. The Dean agreed that this would be corrected.

In response to a member’s question about the implication of these guidelines, Professor Averill explained that these guidelines are not understood to be embedded into each course or a particular curriculum, but it is expected that the points in the document would be covered throughout a student’s undergraduate experience. He noted that the next step would be to evaluate how UTM’s current curriculum satisfies these guidelines department by department and program by program in advance of any external reviews. The Assistant Dean added that an implementation strategy has been developed.

A member suggested and the committee agreed to a change to section 1e of the document titled “depth and breadth of knowledge” as follows: the sentence “ability to apply learning from more than one discipline” would be changed to “knowledge of central concepts from at least one other discipline” in order to clean up the language and to recognize reasonable requirements.

The following further changes were made by the committee to make the language clearer with respect to the section on depth and breadth of knowledge:

• Under item a) the words “at least one” was inserted before the word “discipline” into “knowledge and a critical understanding of the central concepts, current methodologies and recent advances, theoretical approaches and assumptions, and intellectual history of at least one discipline”

• Under item b) “a” was replaced by “that” in “an understanding of many of the major fields in that discipline and the relationship of the discipline to other disciplines

• Under item c) “a” was replaced by “the” before the word “discipline” in “a detailed knowledge of and some experience with the practice and fundamentals of research and enquiry in the discipline”

In response to a member’s question about why oral communication was specifically included in the section on communication skills, the Dean explained that the committee felt it was important to include oral communication, which would encompass asking questions in class. He noted that department Chairs also thought it would be important for students to be able to have skills in oral presentations. A member of the committee added that these guidelines applied to a degree and not to every single course.

A member suggested and the Dean agreed that under the heading “communication skills” the phrase “from email to Blackboard” should be deleted.

The motion was carried.

b) Report from the Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management – Diane Crocker

The Registrar gave an update on the late withdrawal project, approved by the Academic Affairs Committee at its last meeting. She noted that there would be a clarification in the text of the late withdrawal language when it is publicized to note that the late withdrawal option would not be offered to students if they had completed all the work in a course. Once implemented, this change will be monitored for two academic terms and the Registrar would give a status report to this Committee at its January meeting.

The Registrar announced that the office will be enforcing a rule already in the calendar, which stipulates that students with a CGPA of less than 1.50, who still have to complete a deferred exam will not be allowed to register in the next session until their deferred standing has been resolved.

Finally, the Registrar reported on an initiative discussed at the tri-campus deans and registrars’ group meeting. This plan involves possibly moving from a 13 week to a 12 week term, starting in 2009-10. Ms. Crocker distributed a handout with the projected sessional dates for the 2009-10 academic year for both a 12 week and 13 week term. She noted that the proposal would most likely come forward formally in the fall of 2008. The change would mean that the end of classes for the 12 week term would be approximately one week earlier than for a 13 week term (April 1 versus April 9) and would also allow for a one week study break between April 5 and 9. She further noted that U of T was the only university in Canada with a 13 week term.

The Chair announced that the next meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee would be in the fall of 2008.

The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.

Secretary _________________________ Chair __________________________________