Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.
UPDATE: Bumped up to try to draw a little more discussion (3/3)
So maybe you saw this article in the Chronicle this week about a school out in Nevada that had “registration challenges:”
A few years ago, officials at the university decided that they had to do more to reduce the hassles of registering for courses. They imagined a kind of registration czar, someone who could communicate well with faculty members but who had the authority of an administrator.
My favorite part was a few sentences later when the article said, “Each semester [the new czar] helps 50 to 60 students solve their scheduling problems.” I mean the University of Nevada at Reno has fifty or so students a semester with scheduling problems, and they hire a registration czar. I was one of about 80 advisors working during registration week, and I must have talked to 10 students, easy, with serious schedule/course completion problems. If my experience was typical, well, you can do the math…
But our lack of a registration czar is not the point. Can you imagine the lines outside that poor sucker’s office? Mercy. No, that is not what I want to talk about here. Last week, we discussed online grading (go here if you haven’t voted yet), but we’re not going to let the Registrar’s office off the hook just yet. I want to talk about faculty duties during registration.
First, a collection of facts. Our current system of advising and registering students (at least the faculty role in the process) dates to the time prior to the availability of online enrollment. Nearly 75% of our students register for classes online.
Our contract says,
“Registration shall last no longer than one week at all Colleges. Faculty who select Saturday or week-end classes shall be present on the days that registration is held for these classes, but will not be required to be
present in registration for more than five days a week. Duties of faculty members during the registration period shall consist of advisement, programming and other professionally related duties. After classes start, registration shall be handled exclusively by the administrative staff and Department Chairpersons. A faculty member shall be assigned to no more than six hours of advisement, programming or other professional activities per day during registration except that a faculty member teaching beyond the normal course load may be assigned an additional six hours per week for each three hour credit course taught above his normal course load. The time of any faculty member during the period of registration not required for registration duties shall be utilized for professional development in the form of academic meetings and conferences, student orientation activities, departmental meetings, inter-departmental meetings and other appropriate professional activities.”
Even after hiring a bunch of new advisors over the last few years, who do heroic work, for the most part, and faculty becoming more familiar with the programs and the process, our students are still frequently mis-advised (for example, my department had 50, as in five zero, students signed up in various sections of one music class without the required co-requisite; an average of 10% of the students in 200 level Humanities classes don’t have the pre-req they need to be successful in the course; horror stories from other departments, no doubt abound).
We have all had the experience of sitting around in 404, while there is a long line of students, without anyone to see–either because the students waiting are new (and so not sent to faculty advisors) or because the number caller didn’t see us or because of the mysteries of the universe.
It would seem that there has to be a better way. What do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?