IMPAC and the Major

Lead Faculty Coordinator, IMPAC

IMPAC, whose acronym stands for Intersegmental Major Preparation Articulated Curriculum, is completing its first fully funded-and very successful-year. Sponsored by the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS), the IMPAC project fosters faculty-tofaculty dialogues among community colleges, CSU and UC faculty teaching in key disciplines. The IMPAC Project is funded by a $550,000, five-year grant from the Governor for discussions that lead to demonstrable progress in increased transfer and, more importantly, in the successful transfer of our community college students. While the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges administers the project, and the Chancellor's Office provides oversight and monitoring, the coordinating and participating faculty come from all three segments of public higher education. These faculty are tackling the thorniest of obstacles that sometimes hinder students' transfer from the community college to the four-year institution: their preparation for the major. IMPAC believes increased articulation of individual courses or major preparation agreements will be a natural outgrowth of these discussions across the state and will ultimately enable students to transfer more seamlessly into the major at their receiving institution. To encourage faculty participation, participants are reimbursed for travel expenses, and substitute pay is available to community college faculty scheduled to teach on that day.

IMPAC's objective is to identify course work or more often key concepts or skill sets necessary for our community college students to be adequately prepared for transfer in that major to a UC or CSU. Discussions also occur among related disciplines. Thus, while physics professors last year came to some common understandings among the segments, their discussions with mathematics colleagues prompted new considerations of appropriate expectations of transfer students entering as juniors in the physics major. Similar cross-discipline discussions between nursing and chemistry faculty this year have raised issues requiring further statewide discussion among faculty in both disciplines. These are examples are the most obvious and tangible benefits to faculty participants. Participants share that information with colleagues on their own campus as well as in professional groups and organizations, building networks of discipline faculty contacts.

Within the breakout groups at each regional meeting, the discipline faculty review prior year's reports and/or comments from previous meetings this year. They also examine matrices of courses currently offered and required, as noted in their on-line catalogues and on ASSIST (a computerized student transfer information system); they identify errors and needed updating that they must then pursue on their own campuses. During their discussions, faculty wrestle with issues unique to their discipline (e.g., the need for a lab component, placement of some courses in the upper division or the lower division, need for some prerequisites),
raise inquiries for discussions with related disciplines' faculty (e.g., general non-major courses as a prerequisite or a specialized course), and identify larger issues common to many disciplines (e.g., literacy, high unit majors, general education requirements, need for accurate counseling at all levels, further articulation and need to send corrected information to CAN and ASSIST as applicable).

The 1999-2000 Pilot

IMPAC completed its pilot efforts in Spring 2000 with a statewide gathering in Los Angeles of community colleges, CSU and UC faculty in four discipline: mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology. Building on the work of discipline faculty in prior regional meetings, this meeting of over 80 faculty enabled lead discipline faculty to finalize their reports of findings. To see what faculty in these disciplines have concluded, log on to the IMPAC website noted below.

The 2000-2001 Program

The IMPAC steering committee and ICAS have worked to review and refine the project in light of the lessons learned in the pilot phase. The first IMPAC regional meetings of the year began when faculty from colleges and universities in the San Diego area met in December to continue dialogues in those first four areas, and to convene with colleagues in five new areas: agricultural sciences, computer science (programming), food sciences/nutrition, earth sciences/geology, and nursing. Subsequent meetings were held in Fullerton for the Metro Area, in Oakland for the Bay Area and Northern California faculty, and in Bakersfield for faculty teaching in Central California universities and colleges where these majors or major preparation courses are offered.

Plans for the Future

Each year, this cumulative project will open 4-6 additional major disciplines for discussion by relevant faculty, while previous discipline faculty will continue their discussions, seeking to resolve outstanding concerns or raising new issues faced in particularly fluid disciplines, for example computer sciences. Faculty new to the project are welcomed each year. If you or your college did not participate this year and would like to be included in future efforts, please contact the IMPAC staff by calling the Academic Senate Office at (916) 445-4753 either to convey your interest for next year, or to register for the Spring 2001 session in Los Angeles, April 27-28, for faculty in these fields who wish to participate in next year's rewarding discussions in these new fields:

Business and Government: Accounting, Administration of Justice, Business, Economics, and Political Science.