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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

FERPA Q&A: Sharing student information with an instructor

Question: I am an adviser and an instructor is asking me questions about one of my students. What information can I release to an instructor?

Answer: An instructor's "need to know" the information they are requesting must be assessed when determining what student information can be shared. For example, if an instructor is teaching an upper-level course and is asking about a student's ability to successfully complete his/her course, or the student's performance in a prerequisite to the course s/he is teaching, the instructor has a legitimate need to know. Conversely, if the instructor is asking about performance in a course unrelated to the course s/he is teaching, that information should not be released as the instructor does not have a true need to know. Likewise, except in specific, identified situations, instructors are not entitled to a full list of grades or a transcript of a student without that student's written consent. When in doubt about what information can be shared, don't be afraid to ask why the instructor needs the private student data.

Caucus night 2012

Minnesota's caucus meetings will be held Tuesday, February 7, 2012. Since March 2006, classes on the Twin Cities campus have been scheduled on caucus night per a resolution approved by the Board of Regents. Instructors are expected to make reasonable accommodations for students who attend their party caucus.

If a faculty or instructor scheduled to teach on the evening of February 7 wants to attend their party caucus, or if enough of their students in a class indicate they will be attending caucus so that holding class becomes impractical, instructors may either cancel class or make reasonable alternative arrangements.

Monday, December 12, 2011

ASR's role in graduate education student services

For more than a year, ASR and the Graduate School have been working together on the redesign of several administrative processes related to the graduate education transformation. At this point in the project, the future role of the Graduate School has become more clear: the Graduate School will continue to have oversight of post-baccalaureate education at the University; however, they will no longer be involved in day-to-day student services activities. Much of this work will be handled by the graduate programs with involvement at the collegiate level. The functions that are better served through a central office will be handled by ASR.

Over the next 8 months, a group of ASR and Graduate School staff will define the details of ASR's role in graduate education student services. These team members are:

Graduate School
Karen Starry
Brad Bostrom
Stacia Madsen
Amber Cellotti
Renae Faunce
Genny Rosing

Frank Blalark
Emily Holt
Sue Johnson
Ingrid Nuttall
John Vollum (project manager)
Barb Yungers

At the end of this project, Stacia Madsen, Amber Cellotti, Renae Faunce, and Genny Rosing will officially transfer from the Graduate School to ASR. The specifics of the role they and ASR will play in graduate education will become more clear in the coming months, but what is certain to remain is the commitment to continuing to support an exceptional student experience as they have done in the Graduate School.

Best practice: Annual written feedback

At the December RAC meeting, Kara Kersteter (Economics), Connie Hessburg-Odland (MLS and MBS), and Georganne Tolaas (Computer Science) presented their practice for providing annual written feedback to their graduate students. They have provided their presentation and examples of the communications to their students.

Annual Written Feedback Best Practices (presentation)
Annual review from Computer Science
Sample letter from MBS
A redacted letter from Economics

How ASR consults constituents when transforming administrative processes

At the December Registrar's Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting, the formalized model for consulting with constituents on transforming administrative processes for post-baccalaureate education was presented. Moving forward, ASR teams will use this model to gather requirements and inform decision-making as they transform administrative processes.

Accessibility requires action

A story about the critical role faculty play in ensuring accessibility for students with print disabilities appeared in the December 6 edition of Brief. The story profiled a University of Minnesota senior with low vision who works with Disability Services to convert course texts to an electronic format he can use.

Now is an excellent time to update the Course Guide, a system maintained by ASR, for spring 2012 courses. If a syllabus is included with the description, it gives Disability Services enough time to convert course texts for students for the semester.

Instructors can log in from the faculty Course Guide web page, enter a course description, upload a recent syllabus, or link to an existing public website.

Reviewing graduate program data in PCAS

Entry of graduate program data in the Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS) is complete and ready for review by colleges. A Google site explaining the process is now available. Colleges have until February 1 to review and make changes to the information currently entered.

New online ordering system for official transcripts

A new online ordering system for official transcripts is anticipated to go live early in the spring semester. Benefits of the new system include:

  • Online transcript ordering for any student (past or present) with an email address and a credit card.

  • The option of ordering a secure electronic (PDF) transcript, which can be sent to recipients within minutes.

  • Centralized processing (at the Twin Cities campus) of all online transcript requests for all campuses.

Academic Support Resources is working closely with the Office of Information Technology to implement the system offered by the vendor, Avow Systems, Inc. This vendor is used by many institutions, including Big 10 Universities, for electronic transcript ordering and delivery.

Prepare now for entering grades later

Grades for most full semester and second 7-week session University courses on the Twin Cities campus should be entered online by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Dec 29.

Instructors should verify that they have access to all of their assigned grade rosters before the last day of instruction. If an instructor is able to view a class list for a course using the "My Classes" report in UM Reports, he or she will have access to the grade rosters for that course. See Grade Reporting for more information about how and when to enter grades.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FERPA Q&A: Using social networks to communicate with students

Question: Our department is using a social networking site to push messages out to students about our department and events. Are there any FERPA considerations with doing this?

Answer: Yes. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are great ways to push messages to your general student population, to create and build community among students, faculty, and staff in your department, and to receive feedback on the services you are providing. However, FERPA still applies to the information that exists on University sponsored social network accounts. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Social networking sites should be used only to disseminate general messages or events to students. No student specific information or private student information should be posted.

  • When corresponding with a student about their student record you must send from and send to official U of M email accounts. Using the email or messaging features within a social networking site is not an acceptable or secure method of transmission of private student data.

  • If a student posts a question or comment to your social networking account and the response would require release of private student data, including suppressed directory information, the response should be sent to the student's official U of M email account.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Academic Support Resources: limited service on December 15 and December 21

Thursday, December 15
All ASR units will be attending a staff meeting from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. This includes the Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Finance, One Stop Student Services, and the Office of Classroom Management (OCM). Some staff members will remain in ASR offices; however, some services may be limited.

The OCM Support Hotline will be under the normal schedule and will be fully operational.

The One Stop Student Service center located in Science Teaching & Student Services will have limited service and the St. Paul and West Bank One Stop centers will be closed 8 a.m.-noon.

Wednesday, December 21
Beginning at 2 p.m., there will be limited services for all Academic Support Resources (ASR) units.

The OCM Support Hotline will be under the normal schedule and will be fully operational.

The One Stop Student Service center located in Science Teaching & Student Services will have limited service from 2-4p.m. and will close at 4 p.m. The St. Paul and West Bank One Stop centers will close at 1:30 p.m.

A new line of communication

In order to communicate timely information about administrative processes to staff in professional and graduate education programs, a new listserv was created by ASR: the Post-Baccalaureate Education (PBED) list (pbed-list@lists.umn.edu). Known collegiate and departmental contacts were added to the list upon its creation, but it is open to anyone who is interested in subscribing. To request to join, email Kate Sophia at ksophia@umn.edu.