GW hopes to improve scheduling process

In light of a task force report released earlier this year on the state of course scheduling and classroom shortage difficulties, the University has made strides to improve the scheduling process that plagued students, courses and faculty members last year.

According to the report, almost 200 courses were left without a classroom during the spring 2005 registration process, prompting the Faculty Senate to call for a University review of scheduling procedures.

Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for Academic Planning, said at a Faculty Senate meeting last Friday that administrators have made headway for the spring 2006 semester, with only 28 homeless courses so far of the 3,351 courses offered outside of GW’s medical and law schools.

In its report, the task force identified several key factors that led to last spring’s marred registration process. Large classrooms were chosen to house small courses, while smaller classrooms were left overcrowded. Courses with specialized technology needs were closed out of the necessary equipped rooms, while favorable time bands in the late morning and early afternoon hours were overloaded with too many classes.

The task force concluded that the University must find additional classroom space and centralize its scheduling process before last year’s problems will be solved. But the report noted that the spring 2005 problems were unusually severe due to a technical problem with the University’s scheduling software.

Linebaugh said GW has taken major steps to address the task force’s recommendations. This semester’s classroom assignments were centralized in the Academic Scheduling Office of the Office of the Registrar to streamline the scheduling process. The report said several University departments manually picked their own classroom before the scheduling software was run, in order to get priority rooms before other departments.

“The ability of school schedulers to assign classes into rooms before the scheduling software has run has sometimes resulted in abuse,” the report stated.

The scheduling office now carries out all the information entry for class scheduling, instead of leaving some assignments to individual departments, Linebaugh said at the meeting. Each school also has an associate or assistant dean that focuses exclusively on the scheduling for his department to deal with overcrowded time bands. The deans work to make sure all time bands and days of the week are represented equally in the course schedule.

Linebaugh said University administrators are also now better-trained to run the scheduling software that matches course enrollment numbers to classroom seating capacity.

“(These improvements) put all the responsibility in the Registrar’s Office and away from individual schools who may make unreasonable and inaccurate requests,” said Linda Gallo, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor who served on the task force.

“With (the software) fully implemented, there is a lot more information accessible a lot faster,” she said. “I feel pretty good about what the administration has been able to do in the few months since the task force met.”

Faculty Senate Chair Linda Robinson said the task force encouraged administrators to start tackling issues sooner.

“Eventually they would have addressed it, but probably not as rapidly and efficiently,” she said.

Linebaugh said students probably won’t notice much of a difference during registration, since most homeless classes are eventually placed each semester, whether they move to earlier timebands, different days of the week or Mount Vernon.

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