CSUSM Honored for Strategic Class Scheduling Project
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Initiative helps recognize bottleneck courses and alleviate road blocks to graduation
California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) received a 2013 Campus Technology Innovators Award in the Administrative Services category from Campus Technology Magazine for its efforts to streamline its class scheduling process, helping to ensure that students have access to the courses they need to graduate while producing new efficiencies to safeguard the University’s budget.
“It is a complex process to balance and offer a variety of elective classes, which might have low enrollment numbers, with those classes needed for graduation, which have a large enrollment and fill quickly,” said Dean and Chief Information Officer Wayne Veres.” Our college deans and associate deans needed a way to know which classes they should offer to benefit the most students and not cause delays in student graduations.”
Previously, schedulers relied on what was offered in the past as well as word-of-mouth input from academic advisors based on what they were hearing from students.
“Universities typically schedule their semester classes by copying from a past semesters offerings and then tweaking the schedule,” said Rick Fierro, associate dean in the College of Science and Mathematics. “We were never quite sure whether the classes we were scheduling were the right ones to help our students graduate in a timely manner. Now we can identify courses to help us anticipate demand and build an efficient and responsive schedule.”
Staff on the Business Intelligence Team in CSUSM’s Instructional and Information Technology Services department knew that there had to be a better, more efficient and innovative way to get the concrete information that schedulers need. Using the University’s Oracle/People-Soft Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, they were able to extract detailed student data outlining fulfilled and unfilled courses needed for degree completion. Using Microsoft Reporting Services, staff produced a weekly course demand report with up-to-date information that deans and college faculty could use to identify which courses benefit the most number of students.
The new system, which debuted for fall 2012, allows planners to view data by student academic level so that decision-makers can not only see what courses are in demand but who needs them. This is particularly useful in recognizing bottleneck courses and alleviating potential roadblocks for upper-division students and graduating seniors.
“Colleges and departments benefit from the new system because we cannot offer all courses available in the course catalog each semester due to budgetary constraints,” said College of Science and Mathematics Dean Katherine Kantardjieff. “This system of processes and reports gives schedulers visibility into graduation needs of our student population. Colleges then can optimize, mixing elective courses and high-demand courses effectively in semester schedules.”
April Grommo, director of Information Technology Projects and the Business Intelligence Office, says her team’s role is to help provide University staff and faculty with the information they need to make educated decisions with data.
“We are proud to be a model of best practice and are honored to be recognized for our work,” she said. “Our next project is to take the course need report and flip it so that colleges and departments will be able to analyze historical trends on what courses students have taken to fulfill graduation requirements. We hope this will further streamline the course scheduling process and ensure that even more students are served with the courses they need, when they need them”
About California State University San Marcos
California State University San Marcos combines the ambiance of a mid-sized, personal, modern campus with the unequaled value of the California State University. Since its founding in 1989, the campus has distinguished itself. Students benefit from the latest facilities and equipment, a superb faculty that enjoys teaching, and a rigorous academic program that prepares students for a successful life in and out of the workplace. A recent survey reported that our annual spending in the region was $161 million, generating a total impact of $307 million on the regional economy. Eighty-five percent of CSUSM’s alumni stay in the region. CSU San Marcos is located on a 304-acre hillside overlooking the city of San Marcos. It is 15 miles east of the ocean; just 30 miles north of downtown San Diego.