Undergraduate Curriculum Committee

13 April 2009

Attending: Ted Baker (Chair), Ashok Srinivasan, Robert van Engelen, Andy Wang, Bob Myers

Agenda Items

  1. Issue: Discussion of the following proposal from Dave Whalley.

    Allow undergraduate CS majors to take the sequence CHM1045C (4), BSC2010 (3) + BSC2010L (1), BSC2011 (3), as an alternative to the presently required sequence PHY2048C, PHY2049C, and 2-3 other hours of a science course for science majors.

    The intent is to allow this for CS majors as quid pro quo if Biology majors are allowed to count COP3014, COP3353, and COP3330 toward the Biology major.

    Resolution: Agreed unanimously to propose this to the faculty at the fall workshop, subject to Ted double-checking that this change will not endanger our ABET accreditation.


    This would appear to satisfy the older ABET accredition requirements, under which we were last evaluated. Those state:

    IV-12. The curriculum must include at least 12 semester hours of science.
    IV-13. Course work in science must include the equivalent of a two-semester sequence in a laboratory science for science or engineering majors.

    It would seem that satisfaction of IV-13 above might require students to take the lab BSC2011L, in addition to the other courses proposed. We should, presumably also allow BSC2010C and BSC2011C.

    The additional lab would appear to be unnecessary as we look further into the future, the new curricular latitude allowed by ABET's new accreditation criteria (which we pay for by an increased program assessment burden). That is, the new ABET CS criteria only require "one year of science and mathematics", including:

    A science component that develops an understanding of the scientific method and provides students with an opportunity to experience this mode of inquiry in courses for science or engineering majors that provide some exposure to laboratory work.

    A "year", in this context is presumed to be the equivalent of two semesters of full-time study, or 24 credit hours. Our current Physics+ requirement amounts to 12 credit hours. Our mathematics courses above the 1000-level (including Statistics) add up to 17 credit hours. So, this requirement is more than covered.

  2. Issue: Suggestion for the following proposal from Ted Baker.

    Drop the department-specific physics and science requirements, above and beyond the university-wide liberal studies requirements, for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in CS. Allow students to replace these by the extra courses required for the BA degree, and/or free electives.
    Allow students in the BA degree to substitute SPC2600 or an oral competency course approved for an area in which they choose to minor, for CIS4250, as satisfaction of the oral communication competency requirement.
    Look for other ways in which we can relax the departmental requirements for the BA in CS, to allow students room to develop minors, concentrations, or double-majors in areas outside Mathematics and the Sciences.

    We recently decided to drop thhe BA degree from our ABET accreditation, while retaining ABET accreditation for the Bachelor of Science (BS). The immediate trigger for this decision is that ABET requires us us to provide an example of a student transcript for each accredited degree program. No students have chosen this option within the last year, so we could not do that. Historically, very few students have opted for the BA in CS, because all the requirements for that degree are the same as for the BS in CS, with "nine (9) semester hours in the fields of humanities and history, in addition to the liberal studies and the foreign language requirement". Underlying this decision is a matters cost. ABET charges us an annual maintenance fee of $630 per program, so maintaining accrediation of the BA program doubles our annual fee. It also increases our fee for the upcoming interim report, which is $1,700 per program, and the cost of future accreditation visits by $3,000 (since an additional visitor is assigned for each program). It seems silly to spend this money for a program that has no students in it.

    This decision led naturally to the question of whether, relieved of the restrictions imposed by ABET, we can open up the BA degree program in CS, as a way of attracting students who would not pursue the BS in CS. That is, can we use this degree to attract students who are interested in computing, but are more oriented towards the humanities and arts?

    Resolution: Agreed unanimously to propose dropping the science requirements and allowing substitutions for the oral competency requirement, to the faculty at the fall workshop.

    Further Discussion:

    We did not reach any consensus on how much further we are prepared to go toward making the BA degree a "CS Light". A first step would be to look at the requirements in mathematics, which currently amount to 17 hours. (Even more than ABET requires!) The bottleneck in the curriculum appears to be COP4531, which is the only place in the curriculum where we rely on the students having taken the required courses in Calculus (8 hrs), Discrete Math II (3 hrs), and Probability (3 hrs). If we were to drop COP4531 from the BA requirements, we could also drop up to 14 hours of mathematics courses, for a total reduction of 30 out of the 60 hours we currently specify for the CS major. Those freed-up hours could be used by students to develop a concentration (including a minor) in an application field, in business, the arts, or humanities. This subject remains open as a possibility for further discussion.

  3. Issue: Review of comments and suggestions from the ad hoc student advisory board meeting ( http://www.cs.fsu.edu/ugcc/ugsac_02_10_09.html).

    We reviewed some of the student comments, but will need another meeting to complete the review. However, we had consensus on the following points:

    1. Our students have scheduling problems due to MAD3105 (Discrete Math II) and STA4442 (Probability) only being offered fall or spring (once a year). It makes sense to develop a course of our own that would combine topics from discrete mathematics and probability, and could serve as an alternate prerequisite to COP4531. A trial run could be done using the Special Topics number. If this works out, it would reduce by three credit hours the mathematics requirements on our students, simplify scheduling, and open up an elective for the students. A first step is to find one or more faculty members who are interested in teaching this course. We should talk to Dave Whalley about this.
    2. It is important to be consistent about the division of topics between COP3014, COP3330, and COP4530, to avoid both gaps and excessive duplication of coverage. A committee of the faculty members teaching these courses should review the course objectives, with a view to clearly specifying the divisions of potentially overlapping topics.

Minutes by Ted Baker