Improving Major Preparationfor Transfer

June
1999
Bill Scroggins, President

The Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) has been working for the last two years on a project to improve the lower division major preparation of students transferring to UC and CSU. The collaboration of the UC, CSU, and community colleges academic senates in ICAS has created a fledgling project called the Intersegmental Major Preparation Articulated Curriculum (IMPAC) based on the principle that direct, face-to-face meetings of discipline faculty are the best means of increasing articulation.

The IMPAC strategy consists of several steps. First, a representative group of UC, CSU, and community college faculty are brought together at a state-level meeting. These state meetings are planned to be in clusters of related disciplines. A pilot meeting was held in April for the "Science I" cluster: biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics, facilitated by articulation officers through California Intersegmental Articulation Council (CIAC). The goal is to describe a set of courses that would typically be required for transfer major preparation and then to write paragraph-level descriptions of these courses. Part of the meeting is devoted to just faculty in a given discipline and part to crossdiscipline discussion of "service courses" such as algebra/trigonometry-based physics for biology majors. IMPAC is coordinating with the California Articulation Number (CAN) project to assure that these course descriptions can meet the intent of both IMPAC and CAN (cansystem.org). ICAS is also coordinating the work of the IMPAC project with ASSIST (www.assist.org), the official repository of articulation in the state. To take a look at the preliminary IMPAC work plan and some of the results of the April meeting, visit www.curriculum.cc.ca.us/IMPAC/system.htm.

Following the IMPAC plan, the major preparation course lists and descriptions will next be sent to UC and CSU departments for discussion and comment followed by regional intersegmental meetings, again by clusters of disciplines. The Science I Cluster regional meetings are being planned for this fall and winter in four areas: North, Central, Metro Los Angeles/Orange, and South. Faculty at these meetings will refine the course lists and descriptions and do their best to articulate existing courses to this model.

It is a central feature of IMPAC that not all UC and CSU departments are expected to follow the IMPAC curriculum to the letter. The baccalaureate degree should and must remain in the control of departmental faculty at UC and CSU. While the goal is to encourage movement toward a unified major preparation curriculum, if, for example, UC Davis physicists require an extra course beyond the core plan, so be it. IMPAC will include notations reflecting such variations from the basic course lists. That flexibility is a must and should not detract from the gains to be made by the project. Just imagine the beauty of being able to tell our transfer students which courses to take to prepare for a major in biological sciences at any UC or CSU-with only a handful of variations from campus to campus!

The IMPAC project is moving forward with the support of a $550,000 allocation in next year 's budget. Your Academic Senate is playing a major role in this work. Stay tuned!

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