EAC - Ad Hoc 4-Credit Conversion Committee
FAQ for 4-Credit Conversion Questions
by Porter Raper
Who exactly is exploring the 4-Credit conversion possibility, and why are they looking into the issue of converting?
The Educational Advisory Council is looking into whether the college should convert some or all of its 3-credit transfer courses to 4-credits and assembled an exploratory committee to investigate the benefits and liabilities of a conversion. There are a few reasons why the question has come up: 1) internally, certain disciplines (in their SACs) are considering the benefits of 4-credit courses (and a few of the disciplines have already made the change from 3 to 4 or 5); and 2) universities and community colleges around the state are converting all or part of their transfer course offerings to 4 credits. The EAC's exploratory committee is very interested in gauging the college community's thoughts about this possible conversion of transfer-level courses.
Which courses would this conversion affect?
Although the EAC is only looking at transfer general education courses, other disciplines may choose to convert.
Which colleges and universities are converting around the state?
PSU, where 65% of our Oregon University System transfer students go, has undergone a complete conversion to 4-credit courses. U of O has also converted. OSU is moving more slowly, but they have a long-term plan to convert, and particular disciplines have already made the move. Related to this issue of university transferability is the fact that over 1,000 students each term are simultaneously attending PCC and PSU. For community colleges, Lane, Clackamas, and Central Oregon are making their curricular process conducive to those disciplines wanting to convert to 4, and many disciplines already have.
Is this conversion mandated by the state?
No, the state is neither mandating nor encouraging the move: it is completely up to the particular institution. There is, however, a huge concern about improving the transfer rates from community colleges to universities, and the Oregon University System will be addressing this issue: its likely that smooth articulation will be the focus.
Is this 4-credit conversion already a done deal from the administrations point of view?
No. The EAC will make a recommendation based on the best interests of our students to the new president, Preston Pulliams, and he will make the decision. The administration is certainly interested in making it easy for students to transfer, but they also have their own concerns about implementing any conversion. Its important to know that faculty make up the majority of the ad-hoc committee formed by the EAC, and that there is student representation as well. You can see the membership roster by going to our link on the EAC webpage: http://www.pcc.edu/edserv/eac/members4cr.htm
How much overall choice do we have about this conversion?
The EAC will form a recommendation that reflects the consensus of faculty, professional staff, and students after the SACs have had the chance to voice their views, and after the EAC/TLC forums are held: Rock Creeks is on 4/22 at 2:30 in the TLC; Sylvanias is on 4/26 at 2 in the TLC; and Cascades is on 4/27 at 2:30 in TH112.
What if most disciplines want to convert but mine doesn't or what if there are particular courses that shouldn't move to 4-credits from our SACs point of view?
The committee believes if there is a general feeling among college faculty that conversion would benefit our students and the way we teach, then we should recommend an overall conversion affecting all transfer general education courses. Otherwise, there would be a great deal of chaos for our students, internal logistic issues, and major transfer problems. However, we also feel there should be a mechanism in place where faculty can justify and defend keeping a particular course at 3 credits. This would either be the responsibility of the EACs Curriculum Committee or the EACs 4-credit Conversion Committee.
How would a new 4-credit course look?
Any given course that converted to 4-credits would need to have additional learning that could be demonstrated in one of two ways (or a combination of the two): depth, which means a greater focus on the existing outcomes; or breadth, which would mean additional content (additional topics and potentially added outcomes). There would need to be a proportionate increase in the amount of student work to reflect the additional hour of credit.
Would we need to change the outcomes of our courses?
That would be completely up to the individual SAC: there is no doubt some SACs might use this as an opportunity to strengthen courses by making outcome changes.
What about workload?
Both the Conversion Committee (which has union leadership representation) and the union would be adamant that any conversion would help alleviate workload issues rather than exacerbate them. For example, one possible scenario would be the following: FT faculty members currently teaching 5 3-credit courses would teach 4 4-credit courses. While this would mean a one-hour increase in classroom contact (from 15 to 16), it would also mean a 20% reduction in the number of students and one less prep for class. Any workload scenario involving future faculty costs/workload, like the once above, is contingent on the faculty negotiations for the next multi-year contract that will be underway during FY05. The committee is very interested to hear from faculty about this aspect were we to convert.
Has the committee considered a timeline if there is a recommendation to move to 4-credit courses?
The EAC will make a recommendation to the president at the end of spring term, 2004. Then, if the recommendation is to convert, the administration would review the financial impact of a conversion over the summer. If the administration decided that the college should convert, preparation for conversion would take place during the academic year 2004-2005, with the implementation beginning in the fall of 2005.
How will 4-credit courses affect PCCs degrees, sequences, and general education requirements?
This part of the EACs study will take place if (and therefore after) the decision to convert is made. At this point, we are assuming that the degree requirements will remain the same at 90 credits.
Has the committee thought of a process for course approval if the recommendation is to convert?
Although the details would be worked out if we make the recommendation to convert, the Curriculum and Degrees/Certificates Committees would work with the EAC to streamline the process.
If the college decides NOT to change to 4 credits, can our SAC still convert our particular courses?
Yes, and the route would be through the Curriculum Committee.