How to Leverage Student Degree Planning Data to Create a Student-Centric Schedule
Using data from student degree plans and degree audits helps institutions build schedules that more accurately meet student needs. Learn how student data equips administrators to meet the needs of current students, understand which courses enable student completion, and plan for future instructional resources.
Historically, colleges and universities struggled to access and use student data to create student-centric schedules. Even today, faculty availability and faculty preference represent the top two factors that influence the creation of the course schedule. However, many institutions realize they can longer afford to continue the same scheduling practices that often prevent students from accessing the courses they need.
As more institutions adopt student planning and degree audit tools, they can leverage this data to understand what classes their current students plan and need to take. Consider using student planning data in the following three ways to create a more student-centric schedule.
Go beyond historical enrollment data and understand what your current students plan to take in future terms
While historical enrollment data provides a baseline understanding of student needs, it often lags at predicting shifting trends and future student needs. Student degree planning data helps administrators understand which courses current students need and which ones they plan to take in future terms. This data allows the registrar’s office and department schedulers to better plan which courses and the number of sections to offer.
To better understand student needs, consider looking at student planning data by department or major to determine the right mix of courses to offer. Additionally, look at student needs by class year and other demographics that influence students’ course needs.
Analyze degree audit data to determine which courses students still need to take for completion
While degree audit data does not indicate which courses students plan to take in future terms, it allows administrators to understand which courses students have already taken, and which ones they still need to take to complete to fulfill their requirements. This information helps scheduling teams see which courses are critical for students to complete their program, versus which courses may have some wiggle room around scheduling.
Degree audit data also helps administrators understand which courses shouldn’t be scheduled at the same time. For example, are there courses outside of prerequisites and corequisites that shouldn’t be scheduled at the same time? If they are, will students still be able to fulfill their requirements on-time?
Assess which terms students plan to take courses to plan for the right instructional resources
Assessing course needs by term not only helps meet student needs, but it also helps institutions plan for necessary instructional resources. In the event that an institution cannot secure enough instructional resources to meet student needs, knowing this in advance gives advisors enough time to work with students and help them prepare an alternate schedule that allows them to take the course a different term, but still stay on track.
If students’ academic plans and instructional resources misalign, this also may prompt institutions to consider whether outlined course sequences place an unnecessary strain on their ability to offer enough sections to meet student needs. For example, if multiple programs all require first-year students to take Writing 101 in their first semester, the institution may not have enough instructors to teach the necessary sections to meet student demand. Rather than hiring more instructors, institutions should evaluate if all programs need students to complete Writing 101 in their first semester or if some programs could require the course second semester instead.