Results of the Baccalaureate Degree Taskforce Survey to the Field

November
2015
John Stanskas, ASCCC Secretary, Chair of the Taskforce

Introduction

The passage of SB850, signed into law in September 2014, and action based on that bill by the Board of Governors in March and May 2015 authorized the California Community College system to create 15 bachelor’s degrees offered by pilot community colleges, commencing in Fall 2016.  The accelerated timeline required by SB 850 has required the Chancellor’s Office and the Academic Senate to rapidly act to define the parameters the degrees.  To assist in providing guidance, the ASCCC formed the Bachelor’s Degree Taskforce, comprised of CTE faculty from the pilot colleges as well as faculty experts in general education and articulation. The Bachelor’s Degree Taskforce developed recommendations to address specific issues inherent in creating baccalaureate degrees such as unit requirements, general education requirements, and minimum qualifications for faculty teaching in these new programs. These recommendations will be brought forward to faculty by resolution at the Fall 2015 ASCCC Plenary Session for deliberation. In an effort to involve the faculty as much as possible in discussions of these issues, the ASCCC has held numerous breakout sessions and meetings since April to discuss the work of the Taskforce and receive input.  To ensure an exhaustive vetting of the Taskforce recommendations, the Academic Senate also invited feedback on the recommendations through a survey.  

The ASCCC received 432 responses to the survey between September 15 and 26.  Of the respondents, 86% self-identified as faculty and 9% as administrators.  The “other” category appeared to be mostly faculty, self identified as counselor, part-time faculty, or emeritus faculty.  Additional categories of respondents included student government and curriculum specialist.  Responses also demonstrated a breadth of various districts from around the state.

Recommendation #1:

Modify Title 5 to define baccalaureate degrees at California community colleges as a minimum of 120 semester units including a minimum of 24 upper division units; and

Ensure that upper division units are defined as requiring lower division knowledge and applying that knowledge as demonstrated measures of critical thinking through writing, oral communication, and/or computation, and allow that upper division may encompass research elements, workforce training, apprenticeship, required practicum, or capstone projects.

Of the respondents, 83% agreed with the recommendation, while 6% disagreed; the remaining 11% were unsure.  Most of the comments expressed concern that 24 units is an insufficient number of upper division units and the number should be higher, with 30, 32, and 40 given as examples.  A few respondents suggested that community college bachelor’s degrees should have the same requirements as the CSU system.

Recommendation #2:

Modify Title 5 §53410 to ensure that faculty teaching upper division coursework adhere to these minimum qualifications as follows:

(e) For faculty assigned to teach upper division courses in disciplines where the master's degree is not generally expected or available, but where a related bachelor's or associate degree is generally expected or available, possession of either:

(1) a master's degree in the discipline directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment or equivalent foreign degree plus two years of professional experience directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment and any appropriate licensure; or

(2) a bachelor degree in the discipline directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment or equivalent foreign degree plus six years of professional experience directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment and any appropriate licensure.

(f) For faculty assigned to teach upper division courses in disciplines where the master's degree is not generally expected or available, and where a related bachelor's or associate degree is not generally expected or available, possession of either:

(1) any master's degree or equivalent foreign degree plus two years of professional experience directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment and any appropriate licensure; or

(2) any bachelor degree or equivalent foreign degree plus six years of professional experience directly related to the faculty member's teaching assignment and any appropriate licensure. 

All of the disciplines proposed for the pilot fall into disciplines where no specific degree is required, so this recommendation is important to define the minimum qualifications necessary to teach the courses offered in the upper division.  As evident in the language of the recommendation, the task force believes that equivalency is not an option for minimum qualifications that do not fall on the master’s degree list of disciplines.  Disciplines that already require a master’s degree as the minimum qualification are not affected by this recommendation, nor are the minimum qualifications to teach any lower division courses changed. 

Of the respondents, 78% agreed with the recommendation, 9% disagreed, and 13% were unsure.  The preponderance of the unsure responses and comments were confused by the language that currently exists in Title 5 regarding “equivalent foreign degree” language.  In addition some respondents thought a Ph.D. should be required for upper division instruction, and some expressed concern that experience in the field should be recent.  A few were concerned about finding qualified instructors. 

Recommendation #3:

Ensure all baccalaureate degrees granted by the California community colleges require either IGETC or CSU-GE Breadth as lower division general education preparation; and,
Require six semester units of upper division general education offered by at least two disciplines external to the major – one of which must have an emphasis in written communication, oral communication or computation.

The task force recommended that in order to earn a baccalaureate degree from the CCCs, students must complete a general education pattern consisting of either IGETC or CSU-GE Breadth to satisfy lower division requirements.  In addition, six additional semester units of upper division general education must be completed in disciplines external to the major, one of which must have an emphasis in written communication, oral communication, or computation.  This total of 43-45 semester units of general education is consistent with the requirements of other states’ community college baccalaureate programs and slightly less than the Title 5 requirement of 48 semester units of general education for the CSU system.

Of the respondents, 74% agreed with this recommendation, 16% disagreed, and 11% were unsure[1].  The comments on this question were sharply divided and generated the most comments, 59, and the most unsure comments, 38.  Many of the respondents thought the total units of general education were too stringent for CTE degrees and advocated for a different pattern for the community college baccalaureate.  Another large group of respondents seemed to indicate that community colleges should require exactly what CSU requires in terms of general education, which would be an argument for more units.  The number of written comment responses advocating for fewer units in general education was 24; the number of written comment responses advocating for more units of general education was 29.


[1] The total is greater than 100% due to rounding to the nearest whole percent.

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