[The following document was discussed at the Senate Executive Committee meeting of October 2, 2000, and was discussed at the Senate meeting of November 20, 2000.]
Committee on Oversight of Student Athlete Academic Support Programs
(Prepared by Anne Mayhew, Chair; Malcolm McInnis, Mary Papke and approved by Provost Clif Woods and President Wade Gilley)
In recognition of the responsibility of the University, as outlined in the SEC Student-Athlete Institutional Covenant, to treat the student-athlete unlike most other students in academic assistance, tutoring must and should play a central role in the Thornton Academic Student Life Center. Because of this centrality, such tutoring also requires ongoing institutional oversight to assure that the special assistance mandated by the SEC is available while at the same time ensuring that this assistance remains with the boundaries permitted by SEC and NCAA guidelines and meets the standards of academic honesty integral to great universities. To ensure the proper and necessary assistance, the Oversight Committee recommends the following:
1.1 The Oversight Committee should meet monthly with tutors for discussion of issues and concerns of the tutors. It should be emphasized that the tutors are academic representatives of the academic programs of the University.
1.2 Every effort should be made to hire graduate students as tutors. These tutors should be selected by their home departments. Tutoring schedules should be agreed upon in advance by a representative of the home academic department and the Director of Student Life.
1.3 Where professional tutors, or others not associated with academic departments of the University are to be employed by Student Life, the Oversight Committee, along with two representatives from Student Life, one from Women's Athletics and one from Men's Athletics will serve as a search and appointment committee; reappointment will be reviewed each semester.
1.4 All tutoring of Student-athletes, including study halls, but excluding academic tutoring labs that operate in academic departments, should be conducted in the Thornton Student Life Center under direct supervision of a tutor coordinator.
1.5 The roles and responsibilities of tutors including what is/is not allowable should be clearly stated in the tutor manuals. The manuals should clearly state that tutors may not write any portion of any assignment for a student and tutors are not allowed to type for student-athletes. All tutoring of writing should be done in the Writing Center or its Thornton Satellite.
1.6 All tutors will be required to complete an orientation session that will be organized and presented by the Director of Student Life, the Director of the Writing Center and others selected by the Oversight Committee.
2. THE WRITING CENTER
It should be understood by all that the Satellite of the English Writing Center that operates in the Thornton Student Life Facility is under the direction of the Department of English. That department has responsibility, in coordination with the Search and Appointment Committee for Tutors, described above, for staffing of the Thornton Writing Center, and for oversight of its operation.
Responsibility for assigning grades in English 103 and 104 rests with the Director of the Writing Center. Tutors employed in the Thornton Center should forward their recommendations for grades in English 103 and 104, along with the material completed by the student to satisfy the requirements for these courses, to the Director.
3. GRADE CHANGES
Although, in the normal course of events, it should be expected that great care will be taken in correct assignment of grades so that grade changes will be infrequent for all students, there are instances where some changes of recorded grades are required. To prevent possible abuse, the Oversight Committee recommends the following:
3.1 An Institution-wide change in the way in which grade changes are made and reported is necessary. It has been the case that change of grade forms required the signature of the person responsible for assigning grades in the course (whether Graduate Teaching Associate, Instructor, or faculty member), with the form sent directly by that person to the Dean of Records and Admissions. Beginning Fall Semester 2000, the form will be modified to require an additional signature, that of the Head of the Academic Department in which the course is taught. Though responsibility for the grade change rests with the instructor in the course, this change in reporting procedure will ensure review by the department head. In addition a monthly audit of grade changes will be sent to the Dean of the College in which the changes occur.
3.2 The Oversight Committee should arrange meetings with faculty and the appropriate College Dean in courses where grade changes are found to be frequent.
3.3 Additional attention must be paid to the special and Institution-wide problem that occurs when the grade of "I" is inappropriately used. The appropriate use of the grade of "I" should be clarified and its use monitored by the Undergraduate Council.
The Undergraduate Catalog says:
Under extraordinary circumstances and at the discretion of the instructor, and "I" (incomplete) may be assigned to a student whose work is satisfactory but who has not completed a portion of the course.... The terms for removal of the "I", including the time limit for removal of the "I", will be decided by the instructor. It is the responsibility of the student receiving an "I" to arrange with the instructor whatever action needed is to remove the grade at the earliest possible date, and in any event, within one year of the assignment of incomplete. The "I" grade does not carry quality points and is not computed in the grade point average. If the "I" grade is not removed within one calendar year or upon graduation, it shall be changed to an "F" and count as a failure in the computation of the grade point average....
There is considerable evidence that the grade of "I" is awarded to some students (athletes and non-athletes) whose work is not satisfactory but who are failing and seek to avoid the penalty of an "F". It is reasonably common for students to be given an "I" and told to sit in the same course the next term, do all of the work satisfactorily and then have the "I" replaced by another grade. This is poor academic practice. It is also possible for students to postpone penalty (loss of eligibility or dismissal) by being given an "I" instead of an "F" and there is some evidence that this happens.
The Oversight Committee recommends that the Undergraduate Policy Committee make the appropriate use of "I's" more explicit by rewriting the Catalog to read:
The grade of "I" (incomplete) may be awarded when students who have satisfactorily completed most of the work required to receive a grade of "D" or better in a course are unable to complete the course for reasons beyond their control. The award of an "I" is at the discretion of the instructor and should be relatively uncommon. This grade must not be used to allow students to repeat a course without penalty or to avoid the consequences of failing work in a course.... The terms for removal of the "I"....
Frequency of use of "Is" should be monitored by the Undergraduate Council.
4. ACADEMIC ADVISING; PROGRESSION TO MAJORS
Careful attention needs to be given to the different roles of academic advisors and the academic counselors who are employed by Student Life.
University Policy requires that all students be advised by an academic advisor each semester. These advisors who may be faculty members or specially trained employees in College Advising Offices are authorized to advise students on choice of majors, course selection, and other academic issues. They alone are authorized to sign the cards needed by students to register.
The Office of Student Life does not employ any Academic Advisors in its offices. The Academic Counselors who are employed in Student Life are expert in working on scheduling of courses once the academic advisors have recommended course selection. Their expertise is of value in helping student-athletes select those sections of course the best fit practice and game schedules, and, in some cases, in sequencing courses to meet annual cycles of athletic requirements.
To differentiate more clearly between the roles of academic advisors and Student Life Academic Counselors, the Oversight Committee recommends the following:
4.1 Immediately upon registration, copies of the course schedules of all student athletes should be forwarded to the Advising Center of the appropriate College. At present copies of advisors' recommendations are kept by the Academic Counselors for comparison with the courses registered for, but it is not until the next semester that Academic Advisors know what the student-athlete actually registered for. By forwarding course schedules to Advising Centers, academic advisors will be able to identify problems in progression toward degrees earlier in the semester, when some correction of course is still possible.
4.2 The Director of Advising in each College should compare the recommendations of academic advisors and the actual registrations. The Oversight Committee will meet with Directors of Advising and Academic Counselors each semester to discuss discrepancies, to review anomalies in student registration patterns, and to develop recommendations for better coordination of the two functions of advising and counseling.
4.3 The Student-Athlete Procedure Manual should be revised to clarify the roles of academic advisors and academic counselors. (At present, the roles are inadequately described, and there are several inaccurate statements. For example: "A member of the Student Life Office staff may act as your advisor until you declare a major." This is clearly wrong.)
4.4 College Advising Centers should be sent copies of all add and drop slips as soon as they are submitted, and these should be reviewed by the Director of each Center.
4.5 Particular attention should be paid to ensure that Student-Athletes who should (by virtue of entering ACT/SAT scores) register for English 103-104. These are tutorial courses that are designed to help those with relatively low scores succeed in the required Freshman English Composition courses. Records indicate that not all student-athletes who should be taking these courses are doing so.
4.6 In the course of the meetings of Student Counselors and representatives from Academic Advising Centers, templates should be developed that model selection of elective courses that will contribute toward timely progression toward a major and completion of the degree. Choice of electives, especially in the first two years, is of considerable importance. These electives should be intermixed with required courses so as to meet the NCAA progression requirements and to ensure timely completion of the degree.
5. LEARNING DISABILITY
We agree with the recommendation of the Athletics Department that the Learning Disability Programs and the "At Risk" programs should be separated and managed by different individuals. As recommended in the Senate Athletics Committee, review by an independent psychologist of student-athletes for certification of learning disabilities should continue. The Committee is currently reviewing University-wide handling of learning disabilities and the accommodations for students diagnosed with learning disabilities. We will make further recommendations in the near future.
6. AT RISK STUDENTS
Special care needs to be taken in providing accommodations for students who are judged to be "at risk." These students, perhaps more than others, need to be encouraged to become self-reliant in seeking education and in dealing with instructors, advisors and others. The program for "at risk" students, while providing valuable assistance to student-athletes in staying in school and maintaining athletic eligibility, may also undermine development of the needed self-reliance. The Oversight Committee will continue to review the program for "at risk" students.
6. BENEFITS TO ACADEMIC UNITS AND TO FACULTY
The Office of Student Life and the Athletic Departments have provided funding and other forms of benefits to some academic departments and to some faculty for support of graduate students and in support of other activities. The Oversight Committee will ask the Athletic Department for an annual report of all such payments and benefits to academic departments and to faculty.
7. STUDENT-ATHLETE PROCEDURE MANUAL
Revise several parts of the STUDENT-ATHLETE PROCEDURE MANUAL need to be revised to reflect more accurately academic practices at the University. The Oversight Committee will make specific recommendations in the near future.
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