Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Lab" critics ignored years ago?

     [Update: see also subsequent post: Remembering 2003.]

     THIS SUMMER, I have been attempting to stay out of college and district politics as much as possible. Perhaps you noticed. I really wanted to take a break from that.
     Nevertheless, starting several months ago, I have been contacted by people who seem to want me to pursue the “story” regarding the (alleged) recent audit or report about facilities and programs in the Business Science and Technology Innovation Center (BSTIC) and the recent actions of top administration at Irvine Valley College with regard to those facilities and programs. (I’m not sure whether this is an IVC story or a broader one.)
     Some of these contacts have told me essentially the following: that, years ago (perhaps as long as nine years ago*), certain parties attempted to address perceived serious irregularities or inadequacies regarding (at least some) Computer Information Management (CIM)** and Computer Information Systems (CIS)*** courses. The issues concerned, among other things, the failure of students to attend labs for which they received credit and the failure of course instructors to run those labs or to run them appropriately.**** According to accounts I’ve received, efforts to address these perceived problems were rebuffed and dismissed by top administration, who seemed determined not to rock any boats—and perhaps to placate faculty who had particularly powerful district friends.*****
     I’m told, though I have not confirmed, that the recent report or audit concerns just such issues as those mentioned above.
     Is any of this correct? If it is not, I would certainly like to know the actual truth. If it is, confirmation would be appreciated. I'm told that the alleged audit is a public document, but, as far as I know, it has not been made available.
     Anyone with useful information can contact me at the college via email or through my private account. I’m not hard to find.
     (Feel free to comment here. But please do so responsibly.)

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION:

     One of my sources—a very reliable and knowledgeable person—sent this “clarification.” Referring to the period of perhaps five or six years ago, they said:
there was always an instructor in the lab. But he did not teach the lab. There were no "lab" assignments the way there are in a bio lab with an instructor. There was an instructor (Al Murtz, Nancy Bishopp, etc) who helped students who came in individually with their homework. So students were getting hours of lab credit in CIM or CIS for doing their homework in the lab, or not. Mostly they did homework at home. Instead of a lab of 40 students from the lecture attending at a specific time/day and getting specific lab assignments to do, they worked on homework with the teacher assigned to the lab for that hour. If no one came in, the teacher could just correct papers, do whatever. … [Another] problem with this arrangement [beyond students getting lab credit despite not attending the lab or attending and doing only homework] is that the lecture instructor did not "teach" or moderate the lab. So what happens if a higher level class in programming has a student come into the lab for help and the "teacher" assigned to the lab is a spreadsheet teacher?
     My source is of the opinion that the lecture teacher should be “teaching” the lab with assignments to earn the credit. But that’s not what was happening. Far from it.
     (My [Roy's] note: do keep in mind that two different schools taught courses involving computer labs; further, there are (or were) several "computer labs" on campus. These circumstances may be causing some confusion in interpreting some of my sources' claims.)

NOTES:

*According to my sources, the phenomenon of dismissing concerns about labs at IVC stretches back at least to the “Dennis White” era. White was hired as IVC's Vice President of Instruction in early 2003 and was canned in 2006. He was replaced by Craig Justice in June of 2007.

**Housed in IVC's School of Business Sciences

***Housed in IVC's School of Math, Computer Science, and Engineering

****According to California Community Colleges Guidelines for Title 5 Regulations, Chapter 6, Part 1—adopted by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, July 9, 2007 and effective August 16, 2007—the following is an example of how units are to work for combined “Lecture and Lab” courses:
   “Three units = 32 hours (minimum) in-class lecture, 48 hours (minimum) in-class laboratory, plus 64 hours (minimum) out-of-class study. In this case, two units are awarded for lecture and one unit for laboratory.” [Note: IVC's CIS courses are the "combined" type.]
   According to reliable sources, years ago (and until recently), students (at least in the case of some lab courses at IVC) were not required by their instructors to attend lab, and those students who did attend used "lab" time for homework. Further, faculty often were not present for these "lab" hours.
   One source close to relevant governance at IVC told me: Only about a fourth of the Computer Science (CIS) Lab Hours per week are covered by an instructor at IVC. This means that most students are getting credit for lab hours (in CIS courses) without an instructor. “In my [reading of Title 5], that is a violation of the rule that instructors be present when students are earning credit. If an instructor is not present, credit cannot be awarded. … Title 5 regs regarding these labs are there expressly to eliminate a credit class as a place to ‘do homework.’”
   Other seemingly reliable sources with whom I have spoken hold this interpretation of Title 5. It is difficult for me to see how it can be interpreted otherwise.
   One source told me:
   “The School of Business [at IVC] has come to run their lab as a sort of service to the entire college. Thus, an instructor can direct his students to enroll in a ticket number and be able to use the computer lab’s better equipment. That seems great, but how does it jibe with Title 5 regs—to award students credit for using the college’s computers?”

*****One of my sources, a very reliable sort, says:
   “The operation of labs and learning centers became a hot issue when the state added to Title 5 very specific requirements for the hours and content of such courses. … Many fought these requirements—the Math faculty, Reading, School of Business. They all had reasons, ranging from 'it doesn't apply to us' to 'that’s not how they do it at Saddleback' to 'we've always done it this way.'"
   My source identified one “area” at IVC that did not fight, but instead embraced, the spirit and letter of the requirements. So the negative reaction was not uniform at IVC.

13 comments:

  1. We can't seem to get away from Raghu Mathur. His crowd at IVC was specifically the money-grubbers who didn't give a damn about anything but perks and big pay. And that's what's behind this whole lab thing. Just follow the money. Look who is making over 200K!
    Roquemore didn't want to rock the boat, especially when Mathur was around. And now?

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  2. As a CIM instructor, I can tell you this is not true. All hours in the lab were covered by an instructor. Always have been. Yes, students not enrolled in a lab used the lab, but they earned no credit. $200k? I wish!Students earned credit for the lab based on completing their lab work. No free rides.

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  3. Occasionally, faculty salaries are revealed, and I assure you that at least one instructor associated with one of these programs (Mr. U) makes well over 200K a year. It has been a source of embarrassment for years. Further, as I understand it, for the Spring, the computer science lab had only 12 of its total 48 hours staffed by an instructor.

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  4. Distinguish between computer science and computer info management. This is all sad because at the lower division level, students benefit so much from the kind of one-on-one instruction that can happen in labs.

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  5. Comparing a computer lab class to a science lab class is inappropriate. In science classes there are hands-on laboratory projects. In computer lab classes, the object is to give students, who either don't have home access to the proper computer equipment or who need extra help, the opportunity to do homework.

    If there are no students in the lab, or if none of the students need help, the instructor can just sit.

    Other non-science classes have labs as well. Language labs require students to spend a certain amount of time doing language practice in the lab, but there's no instructor participation. At Saddleback, there are Fashion classes that have labs that are very similar to the computer labs -- they give students without equipment, or who need help, the opportunity to work on assignments.

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  6. According to California Community Colleges Guidelines for Title 5 Regulations, Chapter 6, Part 1—adopted by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, July 9, 2007 and effective August 16, 2007—the following is an example of how units are to work for combined “Lecture and Lab” courses:
    “Three units = 32 hours (minimum) in-class lecture, 48 hours (minimum) in-class laboratory, plus 64 hours (minimum) out-of-class study. In this case, two units are awarded for lecture and one unit for laboratory.” [Note: IVC's CIS courses are the "combined" type.]

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  7. Computer classes differ significantly from Science classes. Students come to the lab to use the equipment/software and for instructional assistance. Not all students need the same level of support for their classes. This is a very good system that supports students in a way that gives them flexibility. This isn't 1960. Students earn units based on meeting learning objectives. Hybrid and online courses attest to the fact that students can learn (meeting objectives) without having to attend classes. If the colleges don't get that, the students will let their feet do the talking.

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  8. This report is full of inaccuracies. I know exactly where this came from. Check your meds.

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  9. Regarding your update. There was always both a CIM and a CS instructor on duty in the lab so that both student groups could be supported. The labs were combined to save taxpayer dollars.

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  10. Thanks for letting us know the background to this. Very illuminating! One disguntled employee does not a scandal make.

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  11. Since labs don't usually have homework, how can the computer assignments completed in the lab be homework? I teach geology sometimes, and if my students don't complete the lab assignment, they complete the work at home or even in the field. Seems to me a lab is what I say it is, and homework is what I say it is. I'd hate to have some admin type who knows nothing about my discipline making that distinction for me.

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  12. 9:19, I think you're missing the point. Here's what Title 5 says concerning lecture/lab combination courses--and the hours of activity that students should be engaging in:

    *According to California Community Colleges Guidelines for Title 5 Regulations, Chapter 6, Part 1—adopted by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, July 9, 2007 and effective August 16, 2007—the following is an example of how units are to work for combined “Lecture and Lab” courses:
    “Three units = 32 hours (minimum) in-class lecture, 48 hours (minimum) in-class laboratory, plus 64 hours (minimum) out-of-class study. In this case, two units are awarded for lecture and one unit for laboratory.” [Note: IVC's CIS courses are the "combined" type. Not sure about CIM courses.] END

    --Nobody's talking about administrators legislating what is homework and what is labwork. In essence (evidently) there has been a practice at IVC (for at least some courses) of instructors essentially deleting labs.
    Further, a strong case can be made for the view that, according to Title 5, faculty should monitor their students during lab. It is a part of their job. Evidently, that has not always been the practice at IVC.

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  13. Gee bvd, your so smart. Can I get a date with you? Are you single?

    ReplyDelete

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