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Faculty Senate Resolved Concerns

Availability of secure lockdown browser for test taking

As a mechanism to support academic integrity, the CON searched for lockdown browsers. We give tests on multiple campuses simultaneously, and despite efforts to always have tests proctored, we have had incidences of students opening and accessing other websites during secure tests. We were planning on using Respondus, but when contacting Pullman last spring, learned that Respondus had been piloted but the decision was made to not use it. We would like to know about the process that was used to evaluate the resource, and what alternate resources are available to provide similar protections.

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One Reply to “Availability of secure lockdown browser for test taking”

From Rebecca Van de Vord, Assistant Vice President, AOI:

There have been a number of questions about the Respondus Lockdown Browser. At one point Respondus was integrated with Angel and could be selected for use for exams in that platform. Very few courses implemented the tool and for those that did, a number of technical issues were experienced. That, of course, was several years ago.

A lockdown browser is most useful in a controlled (monitored) environment where the students have only one possible internet connection. If students have multiple tools available (eg, computer, phone, tablet) they can be taking a test in a lockdown browser with one, and surfing online with another. It is for this reason that Global Campus advocates for proctored exams for online students and does not employ a lockdown browser.

CVM is piloting ExamSoft this year to deliver their online exams and it incorporates its own lockdown system. They will have information to add to this conversation after the pilot concludes.

Access Center and Student Accommodations

Multiple constituents have expressed confusion and concerns about the accommodation process / procedures and the impact on the class as a whole. Would it be possible to have the Director of the Access Center come before the Senate and explain the process of accommodating students as well as the process for modifying student accommodations mid-semester, as well as ffield questions from the faculty?

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2 Replies to “Access Center and Student Accommodations”

Hello! This is Meredyth Goodwin, from the Access Center. I would be happy to answer the questions of specific faculty or arrange to meet with departments or colleges about the accommodation process. My email is: m.goodwin@wsu.edu. I will make every effort to communicate in less than a week. We value the faculty support we have developed over the years and wish to address any areas of question or concern. Thank you!

Department of Athletic’s Request for Student Athlete Classroom Performance

A number of my constituents received from administration an email encouraging them complete the request from an email they will receive from the Department of Athletics to update them on the performance of any student athlete in their class at week 5 and at week 13. The goal is to ensure that student athletes are performing well in the class and to help them succeed. The email also encouraged my constituents to do better than last year’s 58% response rate. This request raised a number of concerns.
1. Student athletes sign consent forms to release this information. Is this really consent or would they not be able to play if they did not consent? If that is the case, is this really consent? Some constituents said they did not respond to this request due to not believing the athlete really consent out of free will.
a. Details of this consent process would be appreciated.
b. Also what are the benefits/drawback to forced consent and classroom monitoring?
2. Why is this early warning system not available to all students?
a. Is AWARE a viable solution to do this for all students?
3. How is the information used by athletics, is it positive intervention (tutoring, help with time monitoring) or is it negative (threats and ultimatums)?
a. One constituent had reason to believe that athletes who were performing too well in the classroom were receiving negative feedback to focus more on athletics and less on the classroom.
4. How meaningful is this information in the fall when student athletes who play in the fall have missed over half of the classes?

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One Reply to “Department of Athletic’s Request for Student Athlete Classroom Performance”

The following responses to questions 1, 3, and 4 come from Thad Hathaway, Senior Associate Director of Athletics. Question 2, regarding early academic warnings for all students is forthcoming.

Question 1: Student athletes sign consent forms to release this information. Is this really consent or would they not be able to play if they did not consent? If that is the case, is this really consent? Some constituents said they did not respond to this request due to not believing the athlete really consent out of free will.
a. Details of this consent process would be appreciated. (see above)
b. Also what are the benefits/drawback to forced consent and classroom monitoring?

Response: I’ve attached the document that all student-athletes sign at the beginning of the year NCAA compliance meetings. In regards to this release, we need this for multiple reasons, not just for periodic academic updates, mid-term and final grades. In order for us to ask for a waiver to extend eligibility, or any other reason, we need to have them sign this. In my 16 years in this profession, I have never had a student-athlete question signing this. If we did have a student-athlete who did not want to sign the Release of Educational Records, then we would contact the NCAA to ask them how to manage the situation. Compliance meets with each student-athlete to review each section of the compliance paperwork so they are aware of what they are signing. We explain why the NCAA and WSU is asking for their signature. They are at no time told they have to sign anything or else. However, they do have to complete the paperwork to practice with their team – if they decided not to sign any section, then we would go to the NCAA for direction on that case (which we have never had to do). In addition, Division 1 athletic programs are required to report and calculate progress towards degree benchmarks semester by semester for all roster student-athletes. If we did not have access to academic information we could not verify their eligibility to compete for an NCAA sport program.

Question 3: How is the information used by athletics, is it positive intervention (tutoring, help with time monitoring) or is it negative (threats and ultimatums)?

Response: The Week 5 and 13 inquiry is for the purposes of identifying struggling s-a’s and providing the appropriate academic support that may be missing, and in some cases, proper referral to other University support available if high-risk feedback is consistent across other student services (athletic trainers, strength staff, etc.). See attached email I sent to my staff last week about the value of this information we collect. Also, while we encourage faculty to provide a brief update, they are not required to at week 5 and 13 and they could certainly ask their student-athletes in class before responding (this would ensure another professor-student contact). Our return rates have gone down (used to be around 70%) since the University decided to require midterms for all students a few years back, instead of just for the new transfers and freshman. We will accept a dip in return rates now that we have midterms on all our student-athletes (I have heard of other institutions that require reporting at three different times – I think some SEC schools).

We are certified advisors and all advisors have access to their student’s grades. We have student-athletes that we are working closely with and that we are concerned about. I know I’ve heard other units discuss doing a similar early alert campaign for their concerned list, they just haven’t resourced for it or built that into their support systems yet (they all can with SSC Campus now and imagine some are doing it now).

I can tell you that one of the questions we hear when a significant student issue arises is what were you doing to assist/help/guide said student. The professor inquiry is another way for us to connect with our campus to make sure we are collectively working together and aware of any potential problems before they can grow bigger. We use this information to add tutoring, add weekly academic meetings, intervene on behavioral issues that the professor is requesting of us (just for your reference, please see attached email for example on behavior).

Question 3a: One constituent had reason to believe that athletes who were performing too well in the classroom were receiving negative feedback to focus more on athletics and less on the classroom.

Response: Honestly, this comment is insulting to our professional staff who are fully dedicated to seeing our student-athletes achieve at the highest academic level that they are capable of (like all other student support programs at WSU). We do want the best for our students and believe we are effective in our involvement with our student-athletes on a weekly basis when needed. We celebrate, highlight and praise our student-athletes who are performing well and would by no means encourage them to perform at lower standards. While graduation is extremely important, this data is about making sure we have the proper academic support in place for our students to meet their academic goals one semester at a time.

Question 4: How meaningful is this information in the fall when student athletes who play in the fall have missed over half of the classes?

Response: I would say this information is even more helpful for our in-season student-athletes as we can determine, at an early juncture, if the student and professor are working together to accommodate and make-up for these University sponsored events.

Clarity on the D25 Initiative

There is a need for clarity on what specifically is meant by WSU’s goal of being recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities. One interpretation is that WSU will be in the top 25 institutions on a list of public research universitites ranked from 1 to X. However, this is not how the D25 is being tracked and defined on the D25 web page. Specifically, 10 metrics are evaluated and reported by The Center for Measuring University Performance (MUP) yearly. MUP’s top 25 public research universities are those institutions that rank in the top 25—among all public universities—on at least one of the 10 measures cited above. Using those criteria, a total of 42 public institutions qualify as top 25 public universities in the MUP 2015 report. The primary concern is that it is unclear what it means to be among 42 public institutions that qualify as among the “top 25 public universities”.

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0 Replies to “Clarity on the D25 Initiative”

WSU Research Infrastructure

There are concerns regarding the infrastructure needed to support clinical research specifically, and biomedical research more broadly, at WSU. These concerns fall under 3 broad categories: IT, budget mechanisms, and timeliness. Currently there is little in the way of IT infrastructure for researchers who routinely engage with sensitive, protected health information (PHI) and who must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A case in point was presented at the Faculty Senate meeting of 9/20/18 in which a constituent (G Duncan) is currently unable to receive data for a large registry of twins assembled from WA Department of Licensing records because no IT systems currently meet the specifications and standards required by the DOL. It should be noted that this is not an issue germane to a single researcher, rather this is an institutional issue because more and more researchers will be interacting with PHI and will need to satisfy increasingly stringent IT standards. The other, more general, issues pertain to the need for flexibility by research staff in Pullman in establishing specialized research budgets (e.g., service center accounts) and timeliness in establishing important grant management tasks such as subcontracts and agreements with outside consultants. Examples were provided in Faculty Senate in which tasks such as subcontracts were established in a matter of days at top public and private research universities compared to a matter of weeks at WSU. Timeliness is critical when interacting with federal funders such as NIH and NSF.

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One Reply to “WSU Research Infrastructure”

From Sasi Pillay, Vice President and Chief Information Office, in response to the first concern:

1) CAHNRS, ITS Spokane and ITS’ Information Security Services are collaborating on a solution hosted within Amazon Web Services (AWS) to properly secure Dr. Duncan’s research. Targeting completion by the end of this calendar year, this environment can then be audited well in advance of the February 2nd 2019 deadline by the Department of Licensing which had set the parameters around us receiving their data.

2) The lessons learned from (1), along with the associated configuration, can then become the reference architecture/solution for similar needs in Pullman and the other campuses. While each use case will have different cybersecurity control requirements, the basic architecture can and should remain the same.

 
From Dan Nordquist (Associate Vice President Office of Research Support and Operations), in response to the second part of the concern:

From Spokane: Have not seen nor heard about this report. What I can tell you here in Spokane is, we get the new & amended subs out the door within 24 hours and most of the time faster than that. The only exception would be if we need further information/documents. The colleges are on top of it, but we sometimes we wait a while for IReach.

From Pullman: Karen Breese (Controller’s Office) and I (Jessica from my shop in ORSO) resolved the Service Center issue, plus resolved the Data Use Agreement issue, but there is still an IT Security issue that CAHNRS is working on.

Transparency and clarity on PBL funding

There are concerns related to how PBL funding is established and whether this is an appropriate funding model for a complex, multi-campus system. As currently understood by constituents, PBL does not necessarily track tuition dollars generated by a given unit. This creates a situation where there is no real incentive to grow a program; as a simplistic example, a program with 30 students that increases enrollment to 50 students may or may not receive any increase in PBL funding. The issue is compounded when one considers the range of academic activities undertaken within various units including education, research and scholarship, service, community outreach, etc. In addition, there are concerns whether poorly performing units are subsidized by well performing units because once again, PBL funding doesn’t necessarily track revenue in and so a unit with large enrollments and research activity may be subsidizing units with lower enrollments and less research activity within the same college. Instead, there was discussion whether an alternative funding model, one that provides an incentive for program growth and innovation, would be better suited for WSU. A PBB or ABB model — performance based budgeting or activity based budgeting — would provide funding to units based on the revenue generated. Such a model would truly incentivize units to grow, expand, and innovate. Finally, there was discussion about programs that would be susceptible to such a funding model but are critical to the universitie’s core mission. Perhaps those units could be funded using other mechanisms, such as endowments, set asides, or a dedicated state funding line.

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2 Replies to “Transparency and clarity on PBL funding”

From the Office of Kirk Schulz

Response: There are a number of budget models employed in higher education. Two classic, yet opposite models are the incremental budget vs. a responsibility centered budget. WSU currently employs elements of each in its allocation of resources.
An incremental model employs an allocation process where units’ legacy funding levels increase incrementally based on overall changes in institutional resources. WSU PBL works like this, in that units have base levels of funding, which is backed by a pool of tuition plus state appropriations. When new state funding is provided, such as for mass salary increases, each unit receives a proportional increase in PBL.
In contrast, a responsibility centered (RCM) budget allocates resources such as tuition to the units that generate them, which is intended to incentivize revenue growth and cost control. WSU has elements of this type of model with our enrollment based budget (EBB) model for undergraduate enrollment on the Pullman and Spokane campuses. While not true RCM, it is a program that shares new tuition with the colleges that generate it. Another key element of an RCM budget is that units (colleges) are responsible, typically through a tax, for paying the costs of institutional overhead (administration) and funding a subvention fund that is used to subsidize units that may not generate enough revenue to operate at a profit, but are vital to the mission of the institution. WSU uses this type of overhead assessment with our campuses in Vancouver and Tri-Cities. Both of those campuses receive the tuition they generate less an 11% assessment for institutional support.
Last year President Schulz established a Universality Fiscal Health Advisory Committee led by Vice President for Finance and Administration, Stacy Pearson. One charge of this thirteen member committee is to examine current budgetary practices and propose new budget models for the future. Ultimately, the goal is to recommend a budget process and model that supports operations and strategic initiatives of WSU’s evolving multi-campus system.

Thank you for this reply. As follow-up, a couple questions / comments. First, are any faculty on the Fiscal Health Advisory Committee? If not already and/or there is room for another faculty member, I’d like to be considered. Looking forward to hearing about the recommedations from this activity. Second, there is still concern how the base level was historically created (what is the forumula that was used to create the legacy budget) and how this can be increased outside of the MSI. While UG enrollment is incentived, graduate enrollment is not, so how do units capture more PBL when enrollment in graduate programs increase?

Email and Announcements and lack of students and faculty of reading them.

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One Reply to “Email and Announcements and lack of students and faculty of reading them.”

Reply from Greg Crouch. I interpret this concern to be that WSU sends too many emails/announcements to students, faculty, and staff. Because of this email saturation, students, faculty, and staff often do not read or respond to important emails. I have relayed this concern to Erica Austin and University Communication asking for a policy that controls the amount of email sent. I have also asked IT to investigate if it is possible to monitor email traffic with Office 365 analytics. More to come.

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