System to ease graduation woes

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Eventually, students may find it easier to graduate on time.

Although still in the discussion stages, the provost’s office is looking into what is tentatively named the Graduation Planning System, which would be a software program that would merge information from the course catalog, registration and KAPS reports.

Provost Robert Frank hopes the system will show students “clear pathways to graduation.”

Associate Provost Laura Davis said the system would let students know whether they’re registered for required courses in their declared majors.

If a student hasn’t completed required major courses, a hold may be placed on registration, and he or she will have to meet with an adviser to get back on track.

Davis coordinates the provost’s retention working group, which meets once a week. The group is working on various initiatives to improve student retention, including ways to intervene early for students who may be less likely to graduate and changes to the first-year experience.

The Graduation Planning System is one of the group’s ideas.

Davis stressed this is just an idea the group is discussing and there are still many possibilities.

“It might even be possible to do this in steps or in phases,” she said. “There would need to be consultations with the faculty and the colleges and further consultation with the deans.”

One of the steps of implementing the idea, she said, will be to identify “key indicator courses” – requirements which a student needs to complete before he or she can graduate. If the plan is developed, the system could be in place by Fall 2009.

Sally Kandel, vice president of the division of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, is a member of the working group. She said the system will probably be overlaid onto the current registration system, Banner.

Davis said the system may also be able to measure demand for courses and help departments plan courses.

“Right now, students can get lost in our system and confused about how to progress rapidly,” Frank said.

The University of Florida, where Frank was formerly dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, has a similar system.

“It significantly improved our graduation rates, time to graduation and retention rates,” Frank said.

He said the system would not diminish student choice.

“Students will have the same choice but will understand the consequences of their decisions,” Frank said.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected]