FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What are the different types of proposals that can be made?
A. Curriculum changes are broadly grouped into four categories that facilitate their passage through the review process. Each category has a specific associated form to be completed. Currently, proposals (and the specific forms associated) are any of these types: 1) Course Proposal (New or Existing); 2) New General Education Course; 3) Distance Education Course Proposal Form for Existing Courses; 4) Major Program Revision; 5) Program Revisions Requiring Board of Governors or Chancellor’s Approval; and 6) Academic Policies, Procedures and Standards.
Q: How long does it typically take for a proposal to be fully approved and ready for implementation?
A: It is recommended that major program revision proposals and related sets of proposals be submitted no later than January for consideration in that same year. However, consideration by UCC is just one step in the curriculum process; all proposals that have been approved by UCC must then be presented to Forum and the President’s office as informational items or for approval before the Registrar can update the schedule. Thus, a department that would like to have changes implemented before spring scheduling can begin should plan on having proposals to UCC nearly a full year beforehand. The UCC Manual provides sample charts in the Curriculum Routing section.
Q: What can I do to facilitate a smooth and timely review process?
A: To facilitate your proposal through the review process, it is first strongly recommended that you:
• understand exactly what type of proposal you have and use the appropriate form
• anticipate impacts of your proposal beyond your department prior to its being formally submitted. Meet with those potentially impacted and work to address their concerns.
• provide clear, accurate and complete information submitted with your proposal, especially in terms of resource demands (how does your department plan to work teaching of the new course and sections of the course into faculty teaching loads? Are demands placed on other departments? Are there special equipment needs?)
• gain departmental review, approval, endorsement, and sponsorship of your proposal
• appear at the meeting of the University Curriculum Committee when your proposal is placed on the agenda and at any other meetings where your proposal may be part of the agenda.
• appear at other meetings where questions concerning your proposal may arise, such as the appropriate college council.
Q: What are some pitfalls and common errors in putting together a curriculum proposal?
A: There are a number of pitfalls in the curriculum review process, however, most of these result from incomplete or inarticulate proposals that slip past careful departmental review. In the past, the major problems in seeing a proposal successfully through the review process have been:
• curriculum conflicts with other classes, departments, and colleges, especially where content potentially overlaps.
• failure to comply with the “verification grid” (discussed as another FAQ) where, generally, one course must be withdrawn for every new course proposed.
• failure to address or comply with the “40% rule,” where 40% of a department’s course offerings should be upper level courses.
• Improper assessment or presentation of resource demands. For example, if a new course is being added, is there staff available to teach the number of sections scheduled? What are the implications for enrollment into other courses?
• a misunderstanding of what type of proposal is actually being made - sometimes proposals entail more wholesale curriculum changes than the form reflects
• a proposal that is related to a series of previous and forthcoming proposals. Oftentimes it may be logistically simpler and conceptually easier to consider several related proposals together.
Q: What types of courses require distance education approval?
A: Shippensburg University uses the definition of distance education stated in the 2007-2011 statewide APSCUF CBA. Courses in which 80% or more of their instructional time is offered online and at most 20% (7.5 hours) of their instructional time is offered face-to-face are required to gain DE approval through the UCC curriculum approval process.
Blended courses are defined by PASSHE and Shippensburg University as being those in which 30-79% of the face-to-face instructional time is replaced by online instruction. Such courses offer 7.875 to 26.25 hours of their instructional time face-to-face, with the remainder of the 37.5 hours of instructional time offered online. The 2007-2011 statewide APSCUF CBA is silent on blended courses. Blended courses are not considered to be DE courses and do not require approval by UCC.
Face-to-face courses are defined by PASSHE and Shippensburg University as being those in which 29% or less of the face-to-face instructional time is replaced by online instruction. Such courses offer 26.625 to 37.5 hours of their instructional time face-to-face.
Q: Does a course which has been approved for videoconferencing delivery need to be approved separately for online delivery?
A: Per the 2007-2011 statewide APSCUF CBA, videoconferencing and online delivery are types of distance education. UCC approves courses for distance education delivery generally, rather than a specific type of distance education delivery. If the course proposal approved by UCC states a specific type of distance education delivery format (e.g. videoconferencing, online), the course has been approved to be offered by all types of distance education.
Q: Do courses which are part of an official distance education program require UCC approval to be offered via distance education?
A: Courses which are listed in the distance education program proposal reviewed and approved by UCC do not specifically need to be approved for distance education delivery. Such courses should be considered as being pre-approved for distance education delivery by virtue of their inclusion in the original distance education program proposal. Additional courses not listed in the original distance education program proposal approved by UCC must be separately and specifically approved for distance education delivery by UCC, via the appropriate approval route (i.e. existing course DE approval or new course DE approval).
Q: Do Special Topics courses require UCC approval to be offered via distance education?
A: The same principles that apply to face-to-face Special Topics courses apply to distance education Special Topics courses. Departments do not have to submit a new UCC proposal every time a Special Topics course is going to be offered face-to-face with a different content topic. Similarly, once the Special Topics course number has been approved for distance education delivery by UCC a department or faculty member does not have to submit a separate UCC proposal for each new Special Topics content area they would like to offer via distance education.
Q: What types of proposals may be expedited and why? How are they expedited?
A: Existing courses that are being requested to move to Distance Education status are expedited and will be considered by UCC within 30 days of being posted to the UCC website (after which they are presented to Forum and the President). They are first examined by the UCC Academic Standards and Policies Subcommittee. The Subcommittee then recommends the proposal for either disapproval or disapproval by the UCC at large. This expedited process is developed to comply with Article 42 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Q: Why do I have to submit my proposal electronically?
A: In recent years the increased number of proposals and widening variety of considerations needed in the review process, along with efforts to make the process more transparent and accessible, overwhelmed the traditional process. Thus far electronic submission has resulted in fewer flawed proposals, a more timely and ordered review process, and opportunity for fuller consideration by the appropriate bodies and the university community at large. Cost savings also occur as the photocopying demands borne by the proposal sponsors drop dramatically.
Q: What is the “one-for-one” rule and why should I be aware of it?
A: As per the President’s Memo of February 18, 1997, a “one-for-one” rule was instituted. This rule states that, generally, for every new course, program, or expansion of existing programs proposed, an equivalent number of such units must be discontinued. Further, this discontinuation must be documented in the proposal. The rule is intended to “curriculum creep” that may “injure institutional integrity.” This requirement may be waived. For example, new courses related to certain grants, or, approved new programs. For further consideration, the President’s Memo of February 18, 1997 is included as Appendix 7 in the UCC Manual for the 2003-2004 AY.
Q: What is the verification grid that replaces the “one for one” rule?
A: In 2006, the President approved the following language: I am also approving the proposed clarification of the curriculum management and expansion of courses (one-for-one) policy as proposed by the University Curriculum Committee and endorsed by the University Forum: “In order to ensure that fiscal responsibility and student needs are balanced with legitimate reasons for curricular change, the University Curriculum Committee recommends that each department proposing curricular change provide a three year departmental verification matrix of course offerings annotated with the number of people within the department who could teach this class; as well as the faculty position and/or specialization area (rather than the individual faculty names.) The UCC also proposes that yearly, the registrar notify department chairs and deans with a list of courses that have not been taught in the previous three years. Courses not taught for the previous five years will be dropped from the official university catalog by the registrar. Exceptions to this policy will be made on a per case basis after consultation with the appropriate dean and department chairperson.” I believe the recommendation is consistent with the policy, while giving the departments and the University Curriculum Committee more information and documentation for decision-making.
The verification grid will be attached to any new course proposal in which an existing course is not dropped.
Q: What is “curriculum duplication” and why should I be aware of it?
A: Curriculum duplication exists when a program, course, or other curriculum component addresses the same subject matter and learning outcomes as in another program or course. Curriculum duplication results in unnecessary courses and programs and is a waste of campus resources. On occasion, courses are proposed which substantially or appear to substantially overlap in both style, content, and learning outcomes with courses. If substantial overlap exists, the new proposal is appropriately jeopardized. If in actuality there is very little duplication, then the sponsor of the proposal needs to provide clarity as to how the proposal is distinctive from existing courses or programs.
Q: Under what conditions would Graduate Council Review and approval be needed?
A: Graduate Council review is required of any courses that graduate students could take for graduate credit, including 400 level courses.
Q: Under what conditions would Board of Governor’s or Chancellor’s review and approval be needed?
A: Generally, action by either Board of Governor’s or Chancellor’s is required for a) new major programs; b) new minor programs where no major exists; new certificate programs where no major or minor exists; and c) new degree designations. Office of the Chancellor notification (but not action) is required for most program revisions. For details, see “Board of Governor’s Policy 1985-01-A: Requirements for Initiation or Change of Credit-Based Academic Programs” and “Administrative Procedure for Board of Governor’s Policy 1985 - 01: Requirements for Initiation or Change of Credit-Based Academic Programs.” These are available on the University Curriculum Committee website as well as from the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) website.
Q: What resource issues seem most pressing?
A: Resource issues that are most pressing relate to faculty FTEF. Other resource issues relate to instructional equipment demands.
Q: Who can attend a UCC meeting? When are they scheduled?
A: The meetings, which are typically held the first Tuesday of every month at 3:30 p.m. in Old Main room 203A are open to the entire campus community. If you are sponsoring a proposal or impacted by a proposal you are certainly encouraged to attend.
Q: What if I wanted to find out what happened at a particular UCC meeting?
A: For the current Academic Year, all UCC meeting minutes will be posted online at the UCC website (www.ship.edu/ucc). The posting usually occurs within 10 days of the meeting. The minutes are also distributed to all members of the UCC distribution list (see below) and presented to University Forum. Draft minutes are typically approved at the next meeting of the UCC. All subcommittee meeting minutes are included with that respective month’s committee wide meeting minutes. Meeting minutes dating back to the 1999 – 2000 academic year are also available at the web site. For previous years, contact the UCC Secretary.
Q: What is the UCC distribution list? Who is on the list and why?
A: The UCC distribution list, also known as the mailing list, consists of academic deans, department chairs, program directors, members of University Forum, members of the UCC and administrative personnel including the Provost, Associate Provost, and Registrar. This is broadly representative of all stakeholder groups in the curriculum process and includes APSCUF and student representation. The purpose of the distribution list is to make the campus community aware of all developments of substance and process relating to curriculum change.
Q: Who is on the UCC? How is the committee’s composition determined?
A: The committee’s specific composition was arrived at in a re-organization of university governance in the 1980s and is compliant with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The composition is provided for in Subsection 1A of the UCC Manual. Twelve faculty members, each of the three college deans, and three student representatives together comprise the 18 regular members of UCC. Of the faculty membership, eleven are elected across the academic divisions and non-teaching faculty; one is appointed by APSCUF. Ex officio members include the Registrar and Associate Provost.
These are a few of the most commonly asked questions. If you have others, please contact the UCC chair.