As departments campus-wide scramble to redesign and adjust curricula for the 2012 switch from quarters to semesters, the Undergraduate Student Government is pressuring officials to communicate those unfinished changes to students.
Jay Johnson, associate director and assistant provost of institutional research and planning, said one new addition to improve advising on campus is the creation of the Transitional Academic Plan, or TAP. This new program is in the end stages of development and allows advisers to view, edit and add notes to any student’s advising file.
“That is a new piece of functionality, built by the CIO (Chief Information Officer), that will be a new platform and tool for advisers and students,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the program will give access to all advisers university-wide. An adviser can pull up the file and see what other advisers have said. The direction of the student’s academic plan is then consistent across all departments and programs. Johnson said TAP is being created for the transition to the semester system, but he believes this will become a permanent tool for advisers.
USG President Micah Kamrass spoke to The Lantern about the transition to semesters and the obligation of the university to communicate with students.
“I want to make sure that we’re giving us a good amount of time to prepare for semesters. Right now, every single major in the university is being redesigned for semesters, and that all has to be done by summer,” Kamrass said. “We’re going to push the university to start communicating that immediately with students over the summer, or earlier.”
Johnson said nine subcommittees of the Council on Academic Affairs have been created for the quarter-to-semester transition, and one of the nine’s sole purpose is to train and assist advisers to help students make the transition to semesters.
“The next stage is communicating to the students what kind of courses they need to be taking and how it impacts sequence,” Johnson said. “These changes are at a departmental level.”
Johnson said semester-adjusted curricula should be approved by the CAA by July 1.
Steven Fink, an associate professor of English and co-chair of the semester conversion coordinating committee, said another issue that might arise in the transition is the lack of sections for everyone attempting to complete a series.
Fink said individual departments will attempt to accommodate every student trying to complete a series of courses by opening more sections than they normally would.
“Things will go most smoothly if you can manage to schedule the sequence in its entirety before the transition,” Fink said. “It may mean that departments need to schedule more sections so that students can take all the classes to complete the sequence.”
Fink said course series that currently require three quarters of classes will most likely be transformed into two semesters. Fink said this could become an issue if a student has one or two sections of this series when the transition to semesters is made. One potential solution is the creation of bridge courses.
“(They will create bridge courses) if a department sees enough need to create a particular set of bridge courses for that sequence, because a number of students will be going through at that time,” Johnson said.
Fink said any bridge course would be included in a specific department’s curriculum revision plan and then approved by the CAA. He said most departments will avoid creating these types of courses, but said if someone’s course plan was so tight that breaking up a series was not an option, this would be a viable solution.
In order to ensure a flawless transition, it is crucial that students meet with advisers, and advisers meet with department chairs, Fink said.
“We want to make sure (the transition process) gets communicated to students so they can schedule appropriately next year,” Kamrass said. “I want students to be able to get as much done as they can next year so that they don’t get adversely affected by the semester transition.”