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Student Access Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Student Access Initiative (SAI)?

The SAI results from the Scheduling Task Force. The Scheduling Task Force was formed by Provost Oberem in early Fall Semester 2013 and charged with:

  • Examining the impact of growth (in terms of FTES and the additional courses needed to serve students) on current scheduling practices
  • Ensuring that scheduling patterns and practices provide adequate access to the courses students need as they make progress to graduation
  • Making recommendations for change

2. Why was a scheduling change needed?

FTES counts at CSUSM have increased by at least 5% in each of the last 2 years, and are projected to increase by the same amount yearly for the coming 5 years. This growth translates to approximately 100 more courses (requiring rooms) per year, while classroom space is not growing. Fall Semester 2014 saw 160 courses appear on the Impossible to Place list compared to 60 courses in Fall Semester 2013. Most of our utilization occurs between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday through Thursday (prime times). Our projected growth cannot be achieved without utilizing non-prime times including Fridays.

Additionally, our current approach to scheduling produces many overlapping course sections, which restricts student access to courses by decreasing choice, while at the same time resulting in many times throughout the week when classroom are unused.

3. What was the proposed, and now, approved model?

The model proposed and subsequently adopted by the University is outlined in the Approved Class meeting Times. This model is designed to give students greater flexibility in creating their schedules while at the same time decreasing the unused classroom time throughout the week. This is achieved by adopting a new pattern of meeting times in which 2, 3, and 4-unit classes can be scheduled, except in the case of dedicated classrooms.

4. What will be the impact on students?

The SAI is designed to give students more flexibility in creating a schedule and more non-overlapping classes from which to choose. This should be particularly helpful to students who are juggling work and family commitments in addition to their classes. Presently, 88% of all CSUSM students taking 12 or more units have a class schedule which brings them to campus three or more days a week (52% of students have a schedule which brings them to campus 4 or more days). Studies show that when scheduling rules are tightened (and therefore the potential for course overlaps decreases), student access to classes increases and graduation rates go up.

5. What will happen to University Hour?

University hour will remain unchanged. As is the practice currently, no courses other than labs will be scheduled during University Hour.

6. Will faculty be expected to teach on Friday?

Some but not most: While the SAI is designed to increase utilization where space is available, and this includes Fridays, the majority of courses will not have a Friday component. Additionally, even when the classroom space fills up, the projected worst case scenario for having to create a MWF schedule is that it could impact at most one third of those 3-unit classes currently offered. Due to the flexibility in creating a schedule and the creativity of the people doing so, the actual number of classes that will have to be MWF (eventually) is likely to be small.

7. Will it still be possible to offer twice-a-week three or four unit courses and once-a-week courses?

Yes, but it might be necessary to move the class to a different time of the day. For example, MW 3-unit classes that meet before 2:30 can still meet on MW provided that they are scheduled after 2:30. Almost all other current 3-unit courses, including once-a-week courses, can still be offered in the SAI model within 30 minutes of their current times. We recognize the importance of particular class durations and scheduling patterns to the pedagogy in some cases. There is sufficient flexibility in the new model to allow for a wide variety of scheduling options. As the classroom space fills up (in the coming years), the flexibility will decrease, but that will happen much sooner if we retain our current scheduling model.

8. Is it possible to offer courses on MF or WF?

Yes: 2-unit courses and 4-unit courses can be offered any time on MF or WF (possibly in a dedicated classroom), and 3-unit courses can be offered MF or WF after 2:30.

9. What will be the policy on puzzling rooms?

Departments or groups of departments can puzzle rooms as long as the approved meeting times are followed. The advantage of room puzzling is that puzzled courses do not carry the risk of appearing on the Impossible to Place list.

10. Is the approved plan similar to ones used at sister campuses?

Yes. Many semester campuses nationally and in the CSU follow a scheduling pattern similar to the SAI. For example, SDSU, CSU, Stanislaus, and Chico State have a scheduling pattern that is almost identical to the one approved.

11. Can we adjust the SAI model later if it is not doing what we expect?

Yes. The Academic Scheduling Office has always operated (and will continue to operate) by one main principle: implement a scheduling practice which maximizes student access while serving well the university’s instructional mission. Any adjustment to the SAI model, whether major or minor, which is in line with this principle, will be seriously considered and implemented after due consultation with the faculty.

12. What is the proposed timeline for implementation?

The SAI will begin Fall Semester 2016.