5 Signs Your Course Scheduling Process Needs an Upgrade

5 Signs Your Course Scheduling Process Needs an Upgrade

The complex and decentralized nature of course scheduling often leads to challenges. If your scheduling data lives across multiple locations or errors frequently occur, it may be time to rethink your scheduling process.

Course scheduling can be an arduous task when various department schedules, program needs, and room use all need to be manually coordinated and entered into the student information system (SIS). Due to this complex process, scheduling errors and inconsistencies often occur. 

These errors not only cause administrator headaches, but they also impact students and their ability to access the courses they need. Evaluate if your institution experiences any of these five challenges to determine if your institution needs to rethink your scheduling process and tools. 

Scheduling data lives in multiple locations making it difficult to maintain one source of truth

If scheduling data is submitted through emails, spreadsheets, forms, and paper copies, the opportunity for errors is endless. Additionally, the need to cross-check and audit data can become an all-consuming task and raise questions about which data is most accurate. To reduce errors, streamline your data collection process to create a single source of truth for the scheduling process. Institutions should also evaluate how data is transferred and accessed by the registrar’s office. 

Create a straightforward submission process to make the data that your registrar receives more reliable. When data is simplified and submitted in the same format and through the same channel, it reduces the need to audit scheduling information.  

Scheduling requests and changes are difficult to track and sometimes get lost 

Schedule change requests are often submitted to the registrar in the same decentralized manner as scheduling data. However, this can lead to lost data and further inaccuracies in scheduling. Additionally, faculty and staff are unable to track the status of their change requests without a centralized system. A centralized tool to submit scheduling requests should allow faculty and staff to track their schedule changes, view updates, and receive confirmation notices when changes have been made. 

Errors on a spreadsheet

Difficulty enforcing rules and policies during the scheduling process 

When it comes to the course scheduling, “room allocation and planning have received very limited attention,” according to one PhD dissertation analysis. This can lead to challenges such as courses packed together during primetime hours and overlapping courses. These scheduling issues often indicate difficulty enforcing rules and policies during the scheduling process. For example, despite standard meeting patterns or rules about which rooms may be used, academic units may bypass these rules and schedule courses around faculty preferences. 

Put a centralized scheduling system in place to help enforce scheduling rules and policies. A scheduling tool should help institutions automatically enforce scheduling policies so academic units cannot schedule courses that violate policies. This helps proactively inform academic units about rule violations and takes the burden off the registrar’s office from having to correct rule violations.

Scheduling errors occur frequently 

Frequent errors in scheduling are a major disruption to student program completion. However, “many colleges and universities have not prioritized or effectively developed the must-have student success strategies to manage retention and completion,” says Timothy Culver of Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL)

Common scheduling errors include class conflicts, dual grading errors, and variable unit errors. These types of errors often aren’t recognized until registration is open. When corrections are made, they disrupt student scheduling as many students deliberately choose courses based on how they are graded and how many units they are. Erroneously reporting course units can also create issues with financial aid eligibility. 

Additionally, co-req, pre-req, and gen ed courses scheduled during overlapping times are particularly detrimental to student progress. To help address the issue of class conflicts, consider how to incorporate the use of scheduling tools, program maps, and student data into the scheduling process. 

Student scheduling preferences are not tracked 

When student scheduling preferences aren’t tracked and used to inform creation of the course schedule, students often can’t access the courses they need. To track student preferences, Lane Glenn, vice president of academic affairs at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts advises using, “three-year rolling enrollment reports and put them in the hands of department chairs and curriculum coordinators.” so that they have, “actual statistical information to show the registration pattern.” Data to inform student scheduling preferences includes fill rates, program enrollment numbers, student program plans, and student requests.

Course Scheduling Essentials for Equitable Access & Completion

Course scheduling is a critical tool to keeping students on the path to completion. Help all students access the courses they need to complete their degree.

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