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.)
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.)
*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.