Concordia University is lagging behind other universities in terms of the level of academic challenge, according to the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) released at last Friday’s Senate meeting.
The recent survey compares Concordia to over 700 universities by examining responses from 3,454 random Concordia students. It looked primarily at first- and last-year students in Canada and the United States.
“There’s not much improvement there…not a significant change in slope,” said John Molson School of Business faculty senator Gordon Leonard at the meeting. “My interpretation is that we have to do a lot more than just say we did a good job,” he added.
Bradley Tucker, director of the Office of institutional planning, noted at Senate that Concordia’s results in categories other than academic challenge, such as “student faculty interaction” and “supportive campus environment” showed some level of improvement.
The NSSE survey, which was first piloted in 1999, gives insight into undergraduate students’ learning activities. The purpose then “was to try and give information to universities drawn from their student population that let them know whether they were engaging in practices that have been shown to have impacts on students’ post-university experiences,” said Tucker. He also said the NSSE began in a period of “ranking mania.”
Opposing the survey results, President Frederick Lowy said that “despite the turmoil last winter” regarding the ousting of his predecessor Judith Woodsworth, “academic activities continue unabated.”
Smile for the camera
No conclusion was reached on the issue of whether or not journalists should be allowed to broadcast Senate meetings live.
“It’s already in the public domain, we don’t need to go any further than that,” said Leonard.
Concerns were expressed that cameras in front of the senators’ faces while they are talking could be both intimidating and distracting, and that anyone could attend the meetings instead.
“I was indeed one of those who raised concerns, after the November meeting,” said Rae Staseson, an arts and science senator. “I found the presence of roving cameras disturbing and not following journalistic ethical guidelines.”
Staseson said that allowing cameras into Senate could “inhibit very frank discussions and debates” and “enhance a kind of overly exuberant senatorial performance.”
However some senators, mostly student representatives, spoke strongly on behalf of allowing cameras in, as long as those behind the cameras were following proper guidelines.
“My opinion is that these meetings ought to be both recorded and broadcast,” said student senator Gene Morrow. “I think that it’s fairly clear that with everything that’s happening here is in the public interest.”
The issue was unresolved and sent to Senate’s steering committee for further review. A similar plea for live broadcasts of Board of Governors meetings was recently voted down by a majority of governors.