MSU STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PROPOSAL FOR INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES
PROPOSAL OVERVIEW
TitleAt-Night Core: Serving Working and Non-Traditional Students Request Date2012-11-29
DepartmentDean's Office, College of Letters & Science Emailsmonahan@montana.edu
RequestorSue Monahan Phonesmonahan@montana.edu
INSTITUTIONAL BENEFIT
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts Directly involving College of Letters & Science (Dean: CLS Seminar, Liberal Studies), English, Mathematical Sciences, Sociology & Anthropology,History, Philosophy & Religious Studies, Physics, Earth Sciences, Microbiology and University Studies, and coordinating with School of Art and Gallatin College
TIMEFRAME
Proposed Dates Start: August 16, 2013 End: May 15, 2016
PROPOSAL SUMMARY
We propose to offer a full slate of Core 2.0 courses on the Bozeman campus at alternative times (i.e., evenings, weekends). This will expand access to an MSU education for non-traditional students and those who work during the day, enable MSU to offer more sections of Core courses overall, and better use existing classroom space. Ten sections will be added, including courses that satisfy requirements in Writing, Seminar, Diversity, Contemporary Issues in Science, Humanities, Natural Science and Social Science. Courses satisfying Arts and Research requirements are offered at night by the Art Department through extra sections funding.
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT
The proposal will diversify the student body (A.2, Metric A.2.4) by making the required Core 2.0 curriculum available to students who work or have other commitments during normal business hours. Many of these students are non-traditional students. By providing courses to a currently underserved audience, the proposed activities will also educate more students (A1, Metric A.1.1, Metric A.1.7).
COST AND REQUIREMENTS
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       52593      1.25 
Benefits       17193       
Materials & Supplies       1000       
Travel              
Contracted Services              
Capital              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 70786    1.25 
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Salary and benefits:  Ten new sections of Core 2.0 courses will be opened at night or weekend times.  Courses will be taught by current NTT faculty or tenure-track faculty for whom a standard-time course is bought out.  Buy-out rates are standard for three credit courses in these departments in the College of Letters & Science, and were provided by Department Heads or Program Directors for the relevant courses.  Funds are requested for one section each of a course that satisfies Quantitative Reasoning (Q), Diversity (D), Contemporary Issues in Science (CS), Inquiry Humanities (IH), Inquiry Natural Science, and Inquiry Social Science (IS).  Due to lower caps of 19 and 17 students, respectively, funds are requested for two sections each of courses that satisfy Writing (W) and Seminar (US) requirements.  No funds are requested for Art (IA) or Research (R) courses because the School Of Art is already meeting the need for night classes in those areas through extra section funding.

 

Course Type and # of sections:  Total Salary (Total Benefits)

W 2 sections:  $6906 ($2257)

US 2 sections:  $7000 ($2288)

Q 1 section:  $7725 ($2525)

D 1 section:  $5100 ($1667)

CS 1 section:  $8000 ($2615)

IH 1 section:  $4762 ($1556)

IN 1 section:  $8000 ($2615)

IS 1 section:  $5100 ($1667)


FTE column in the budget is based on NTT full-time at 24 credits (since the NTT faculty most likely to contribute are grandfathered into te earlier definition of full-time.

Materials and Supplies:  $1000 for incidental course related expenses ($100 per course for supplies and materials, copying, exam scoring, etc)

The program will be administered in the CLS Dean’s Office with no additional cost to the university.

 

PROPOSAL SCOPE
Describe the Proposal

We propose to offer a full slate of Core 2.0 courses to MSU-Bozeman at alternative times (i.e., evenings, weekends).  Because CLS Core courses presently operate at near full capacity, we propose to add new secctions rather than moving existing sections and students to night classes.  This will expand access to an MSU education for non-traditional students and those who work during the day, enable MSU to offer more sections of Core courses overall, and better use existing classroom space.  Ten sections will be added, including courses that satisfy requirements in Writing, Seminar, Diversity, Contemporary Issues in Science, Humanities, Natural Science and Social Science.  Courses satisfying Arts and Research requirements are offered at night by the School of Art through extra sections funding; our conversations with the School of Art suggest that these sections will continue in the future.

Course selection:  For each Core category, we have worked with Department Heads and Program Directors to identify courses and potential instructors from among MSU’s current TT and NTT faculty.  Our criteria for identifying potential courses incuded:  (1) Non-duplication of existing Core-Online offerings; (2) Appropriateness for a general audience seeking to complete Core requirements rather than a specialized audience completing specific pre-requisites for majors.

We have identified the following course possibilities:

Writing:  WRIT 101W  College Writing

University Seminar:  CLS 201US Knowledge and Community and/or US 101 University Seminar*

Quantitative Reasoning:  M 145Q Liberal Arts Math**

Diversity:  GPHY 121D Human Geography or ANTY 101D Anthropology and the Human Experience or SOCI 150D Social Difference

Contemporary Issues in Science:  BIOB 107CS Molecules of Life

Arts:  Already offered by the School of Art

Humanities:  LIT 110IH Intro to Literary Studies or PHL 110IH Problems of Good and Evil

Natural Sciences:  ASTR 110IN Astronomy: Mysteries of the Sky or GEOG 111IN Dinosaurs or GEOG 140IN Planetary Geology

Social Sciences:  SOC 101IS

Research:  Already offered by the School of Art

*CLS 201 is a seminar designed for students who have at least 30 credits; CLS has found that more advanced students needing the seminar get more from the course if they are with other more experienced students.   US 101 is appropriate for first-time college students.

**Math also presently offers STAT 216Q in the evenings, and plans to continue that; we propose to supplement that course with a terminal Quantitative core course (M 145Q).  We have consulted with Gallatin College on the possibility of offering M 096; in their view, at present that course at night is not in demand but GC indicated that, should the At-Night Core program generate demand for M 096 in an evening format, they would be prepared to offer it.  We will coordinate with GC to track this.

 

 
Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

Access:  If implemented, this proposal will expand opportunities for non-traditional and working students to complete course work without interfering with their normal work day.  In addition, because of the reasonable class sizes, it does so in a way that is more welcoming and personalized to students who might presently have more marginal relationships or attachments to our institution.  It will provide both access and integration into our academic community.

Educating more students:  The proposal will make available approximately 350 additional seats a year, spread across 10 sections of Core 2.0 courses. 

Diversity:  This will diversify our student body by expanding opportunities to non-traditional students and including more such students in our academic community.

Community service and connections:  This will strengthen our ties to the Bozeman community by responding to real educational needs among working residents of our community.

Synergies with existing programs:  The Core At-Night program will complement other mechansisms for students to access an MSU education outside the normal 8-5 class schedule.  In particular, combined with the new Online Core program and the developing online Liberal Studies degree completion program, At-Night Core will offer an array of opportunities for students to complete Core and elective course work at MSU at alternative times and through alternative modes.  This will allow students to lessen the conflicts with their work and/or family responsibilities as they complete their degree, allowing them to complete at least some of MSU degree requirements at non-traditional times or in non-traditional ways.

 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Implementation Plan

The At-Night Core will be administered out of the CLS Dean’s office which will work with cooperating departments to schedule courses and identify and compensate instructors.  We will coordinate closely with the School of Art, to ensure full coverage of Core courses, and when appropriate draw on Core courses offered by other colleges.  If funded, we will offer a minimum of five sections of At-Night Core each fall and spring from AY 14 through AY 16.  Course times will be staggered so as to minimize overlap of course offerings in a given semester, but unless we offer a course on a Friday night or a Saturday morning (which is a possibility even though it isn’t reflected in the “At-Night Core” label), we will not be able to completely avoid overlaps.

March 15, 2013:  Identify initial courses, instructors and classroom spaces for Fall 2013 implementation

Fall 2013:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others)

Spring 2014:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others in categories not covered in the Fall)

Fall 2014:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others)

Spring 2015:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others in categories not covered in the Fall)

Fall 2015:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others)

Spring 2016:  Offer 5 At-Night Core 2.0 classes (W & US courses, plus three others in categories not covered in the Fall)

Course caps and students served:  WRIT 101W is capped at 22 students; we propose to offer a section of that course each semester creating opportunities for 44 students per year.  The seminar courses are capped at 17 students, but we will extend the caps to 19 students if demand warrants.  This will create seminar opportunities for 38 students per year.  The other courses in the proposed At-Night Core program will be offered once per year and have caps ranging from 45-50 students. 

We have given careful consideration to the course caps, given the nature and goals of this proposal.  It is possible to offer classes in our large lecture halls at night with course caps of 100 or more students.  We do not believe this is in the best interests of the target audience for these courses.  Non-traditional students who are not able to be on campus during the day are already at higher risk of having a marginal connection to our campus; we can mitigate that risk by using the At-Night Core to provide learning environments that are as warm, personal and welcoming as possible, given our financial constraints.  Thus, for the remaining courses we opt for course caps of 50 of lower, expecting that this is likely to enhance the student’s experience and connection to MSU.

In the event that demand exceeds supply for these courses, we will request extra section funding through the existing process to add additional At-Night Core courses.

 
Assessment Plan

Assessment of the success of the program will begin in the first semester, and will inform our choice as to whether to continue the program from year to year.  To understand if the program is successful, we need to know the answers to two questions: (1) Is there sufficient demand for At-Night Core courses? and (2) Are the At-Night Core courses being utilized by the intended audience?

The first question, about sufficient demand, has two parts:  Is there sufficient demand for specific courses, and is there sufficient demand for the program as a whole?

Target enrollments for specific courses:

FY 14:  All courses will run as long as they meet the CLS minimum enrollments of 10 students in undergraduate courses*.  Should a course enrollment be below 10 students at the start of the semester, the course would be cancelled as per CLS policy on minimum enrollments (unless the Budget Committee wants to argue for an exception to this rule, an exception the proposer would welcome in the interests of getting this program established).

FY 15, going forward:  All courses will run as long as they meet the CLS minimum enrollments of 10 students in undergraduate courses.  But if a course falls below 50% of its cap, it will not be renewed in future years, but instead will be replaced by another course chosen for its likelihood of success in this format.

*This is to allow the program to be established and for students to experience it as a reliable source of Core courses at MSU.  We do not want to advertise and offer courses to this underserved audience, only to pull courses at the last minute because they missed enrollment targets beyond normal CLS enrollment minimums. 

Target enrollments for the program as a whole:

FY 14:  All courses meeting minimum enrollments will run.  But if 70% or more of courses in the At-Night Core fail to enroll at a minimum of 50% capacity, the program will be discontinued at the end of FY 14 due to lack of demand relative to resources required to run the program.

FY 15, going forward:  All courses meeting minimum enrollments will run.  But if 50% or more of courses in the At-Night Core fail to enroll at a minimum of 50% capacity, the program will be discontinued at the end of the FY year due to lack of demand relative to resources required to run the program.

At the end of FY 16, we will provide a report to the Budget Committee detailing for all courses taught in FY 14, FY 15 and FY 16:  (1) Enrollment caps (which will be determined and recorded before registration),  (2) Actual enrollments, and (3) Percent Capacity at which each course ran.  Based on that data, we will assess whether individual courses met enrollment thresholds and whether the program as a whole has demonstrated sufficient demand to continue it.

Utilization by students with scheuling conflicts

The second question will be investigated by surveying students, through the D2L survey instrument, about their reasons for enrolling in the At-Night Core course rather than a similar course offered during regular business hours (e.g., work schedule, childcare responsibilities, other daytime scheduling conflicts, prefer longer classes that meet less often, no particular reason, other).   A simple survey will be shared by all instructors who participate in the At-Night Core program and will be administered at the midpoint of the semester. 

Our threshold for success will be 35% of available seats in At-Night Core classes being filled by students who are taking courses because of scheduling conflicts with courses offered at traditional times.  Note that the denominator is “number of seats” and not “all enrolled students”.  The denominator chosen is a higher standard, reflecting our concern that the funds we expend on this instruction create benefits for the target audience.  We will report on data from all classes, but will aggregate the data across classes to test the threshold.

Note:  At present, MSU does not have a mechanism for restricting enrollment in courses based on employment status or availability of the student to attend other classes.  Instead, if the proposal is funded, we will reach out to specific audiences that are the target of the proposal through news releases about the At-Night Core and coordination with University Studies and the Academic Advising Council to direct appropriate students to the courses.  In addition, it is entirely possible that to reach the intended audience we may find ourselves serving other students who take night classes for other reasons.  This is not indicative of a failure of the program, so long as we reach the specified numbers of non-traditional and/or working students.

 

 
If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

If the program does not meet thresholds stated above for course demand and utilization by target audience, the program will be terminated at the end of the academic year.  This will result in At-Night Core classes being less available, if not unavailable, to students in future years, but it will reflect the reality of the utilization by target audiences and the demand for such courses.

 
SIGNATURES
Dean/Director: Paula Lutz (plutz@montana.edu)
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (mpotvin@montana.edu)