New Course-Listing System Will Help Students, Save Money
The way some academic departments list their courses in the University's catalog may soon change, as the University of Arizona prepares to move to a new administrative system that will offer tools to make it easier for students to locate the courses they need. The new system is expected to reduce the need for course cross-listing and help reduce the costs associated with behind-the-scenes maintenance related to courses with multiple names.
In the current Student Information System, or SIS, many University courses are cross-listed, meaning they have more than one course prefix. For example, the sociology class SOC 220, "Introduction to African American Studies," is also listed as an African American Studies class â€“ AFAS 220, with the same course name. While the course number and title stay the same in cross-listings, the prefix changes, and a course may have up to 10 prefixes, said Dianne Horgan, associate dean of the Graduate College.
Listing courses with multiple prefixes indicates to students that certain courses can fulfill requirements in different subject areasâ€“ for example, the class can meet a sociology or African American Studies requirement. Â
Regardless of the number of prefixes a course has, the department that teaches it is given the credit for it, Horgan said. The University tracks departments' production of credit hours, which are reported to deans, the provost and the Arizona Board of Regents and used, in part, to make decisions affecting those departments in various ways. That makes it beneficial for departments to show that they produce a large number of credit hours, Horgan said.
Cross-listing can serve many purposes, such as helping students find the course they want or notifying them to a class's interdisciplinary content. However, maintaining cross-listed courses, which often change prefixes, takes significant time and money to ensure classes appear correctly on schedules, transcripts and so forth, from semester to semester, Horgan said.Â
In the spring, the UA will begin its transition to using PeopleSoft software to manage student information, as part of the Mosaic Project to replace aging computer systems on campus. When students register for fall 2010 classes, they will do so through a new UAccess Student system, which will offer a host of new tools for searching for courses and likely will diminish the need for most cross-listing, Horgan said.
While cross-listing will not be eliminated by the new system, new search tools will allow students to look for courses based on more specific criteria that just course title, said Horgan, who serves on the Functional Council and Business Intelligence Advisory Council of Mosaic's Project Team.
For example, students are expected to be able to search for classes that fit the remaining requirements of their academic plan or narrow classes down by key word, date and time they are offered, or specific course attributes, like writing-intensive courses, honors classes or courses that might be of interest to a specific major.Â
"This will simplify things," Horgan said. "It will save us probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and it will be easier."
Because maintaining cross-listed courses involves a lot of manual processing, reducing their numbers should save a lot of administrative time, Horgan said.
PeopleSoft's course management system also will make it easier for instructors to hold or limit a certain number of seats in their classes for majors, Horgan said.
Although cross-listing will continue in the new system, Horgan said she anticipates the need for it will decrease as a result of the new search tools. There is no mandate saying departments must stop cross-listing.
Mosaic team members are currently working to transfer all existing courses from the old system to the new system. Reductions in cross-listing will likely take place over time, Horgan said.