February Virtual Faculty Roundtable

Greetings, all! Welcome to our new Faculty Center blog. I hope it will provide a nice forum for many issues facing faculty at CSU.

The calendar seems to fill up as fast as I can schedule Roundtable meetings, so I thought I’d try a “virtual” conversation this month. Our topic is prompted by a call from on high (the USG system office): in our statewide effort to help more students finish college, can faculty identify institutional and system-wide policies that hinder students’ progress? Let’s call it, When policies and progression collide.

When students run off the rails, could faculty have helped to avert the disaster? How so?

What kinds of tough calls do you find yourself making in the classroom or as an advisor?

What support could you use to face the challenges of keeping students moving productively toward graduation?

Thanks for giving this some thought. Looking forward to hearing your comments,

Susan Hrach, Director of the Faculty Center

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4 thoughts on “February Virtual Faculty Roundtable

  1. Katherine Gray says:

    One thing I’ve found almost overwhelming in a policy sense is the availability of, in this case, composition courses. At the beginning of every semester, while I’m still trying to get myself set up to teach, I will receive AT LEAST 20 e-mails of people trying to override into my (full) composition classes. The policy of having everyone complete 1101 and 1102 so quickly means that they HAVE to get this class taken or they can’t go on with their college career. However, I cannot override past 24 students, or my effectiveness as a teacher goes down.

    It’s a difficult situation to be in- the students NEED these classes because without them, they cannot continue their college career, but the introductory composition classes fill up so quickly that it’s very difficult to help them out when they need an override into one. I find myself constantly telling them “sorry, I wish I could help, but…” or “let’s see if we can find you another class”- which usually doesn’t pan out, because the other comp classes are full too.

    This really comes into play with the last question about how to keep students moving productively towards graduation. You know students NEED your class, but you can’t give it to them when they need it- and it seems like there is no other place for them to get it either.

    Additionally, I feel that it’s problematic when a student comes to an instructor to ask to be overridden into a class- as a full-time lecturer, I don’t actually have the power to do that, for one thing; they still have to go through a chain of command that involves their adviser, my department head, etc. And in addition, most of the time, the information that I tell them isn’t of any use, because it’s usually ‘sorry, can’t do that.’ I know it’s normal for students to ask teachers if they can be overridden into a course, but in this particular case, it’s almost become something I dread at the beginning of the semester- being deluged and overwhelmed by people who are desperate to take a class and not really knowing what to tell them, or who to send them to.

    When there’s no comp classes to be had, and these students are making an honest effort to FIND one, but were not able to register early enough to get one, for whatever reason, what are we supposed to do with them? We need to keep them moving towards a degree, but telling them ‘this class will keep you from registering for ANYTHING ELSE until you take it’ is something I’m a little fearful of- could that be discouraging enough to lose students over? What if they lose their financial aid because they can only take 1102 one semester, rather than the full load that most aid packages require?

    • Susan Hrach says:

      I hear you, Kat. I’d be curious to know how the composition-before-30-hours regulation is being managed here and elsewhere in the system; surely we’re making a whole lot of exceptions to give students more time or we’re losing many.

      The other important issue is the strange dynamic created for instructors in the core. Lower level enrollment caps are firm (and for good reasons — they should probably be reduced further), so why are students even given the false hope of begging instructors to allow them a seat? Are we serving ourselves or our students by making room in an overcrowded class?

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts!

  2. Brian Schwartz says:

    I think our current fee structure gets in the way of progression for students who want or need to attend part-time. This is a problem for most students who want to knock out a course or two in the summer but are deterred from doing so by the inordinately high fees. For example, a student who would like to take one 3-credit this course summer will pay $485.22 in tuition and $737.50 in mandatory fees. I don’t think very many students will be able to afford this. The problem will spread to other students if some of their required classes fail to “make” in the summer and get canceled. The current fee structure is not only a hindrance to progression for currently enrolled students. It is also a barrier to enrollment of working adults who might want to begin or return to college to earn a degree.

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