Appendix P

4/25/17

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNIVERSITY PLANNING

Course and Classroom Scheduling Recommendations

(Advisory/Consultative)

Implementation: Upon Approval by the President

Introduction

The members of the University Planning Committee have been asked by Faculty Senate Chair Strauss to review and evaluate the course and classroom scheduling process. With the adoption of LionPath and the CollegeNET Optimizer for classroom and event scheduling, the University has experienced a large number of scheduling difficulties since the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester.  As we approach the end of the first full academic year with these systems it is imperative that specific problems be addressed as soon as possible. Although the list below is not exhaustive, we believe that it represents the most important immediate problems that we face. A list of recommendations that address how to correct these problems is included. Further improvements to the system will need to be examined in the future.

The Current Course Scheduling Process Summary:

Each semester, the administrative staff within each department must add all details, including course time, estimated enrollment, room requirements, and other information for each course.  Once the information is entered into LionPath, then the CollegeNET Optimizer will import the information from LionPath, and then automatically schedule all courses through the prioritization within the CollegeNET Optimizer.  After an initial optimizer runs for all standard time periods, then there is a second run of the optimizer to assign classrooms to non-standard time periods.  Following the automated scheduling with the optimizer, then departments can request remaining available rooms if their classroom was not scheduled, or there is a desire to alter the room.

It is important to note that the current process differs significantly from the previous system used prior to the Fall 2016 semester.  The previous system (ISIS) was set up to comply with the classroom prioritization defined within Policy AD-82 – Classroom Scheduling, which outlines three levels of prioritization for classes [1) Roll-over; 2) Priority scheduling of general purpose classrooms; 3) General credit] along with prioritizing other classroom uses [4)Instructional support; 5) Co-curricular; and 6) Non-credit and events.] The current process simply selects rooms based on availability within a particular partition (building or cluster of buildings), with an initial priority to standard course times, and then a second run for non-standard course times.

The current classroom scheduling approach does not ensure that a classroom will be available for each course in the requested time period, and there are multiple examples of departments who have altered their course scheduling to identify acceptable classroom assignments.  The shifting of time periods of classes between semesters and years can have a significant impact on students and departments who are striving for consistency within semester schedules, especially for departments that offer required courses once per year.  While consistency is not always possible, predictability should be a goal to assist students in avoiding scheduling conflicts that can delay their degree completion.

During the initial implementation of the new LionPath system and the CollegeNET Optimizer, there were 53 departmentally controlled rooms reclassified to general purpose classrooms, but with a promise that these rooms would not be scheduled frequently, and that they would be primarily available for department use, except for several hours of classes per week.  These rooms were previously used by departments for research seminars, faculty candidate presentations, thesis proposal and defense presentations, guest lectures, student organization meetings and departmental classes.  These classrooms have been added into the CollegeNET Optimizer as General Purpose Classrooms, and there are no different priorities on these classrooms as compared to other general purpose classrooms.  Through an analysis of these rooms, they have an overall utilization of 44.1% in Fall 2016 and 37.8% in Spring 2017, which significantly exceeds the initial estimated use of these rooms. In fact, 21 of these newly reassigned GPCs had usage rates over 50% in the Fall 2016, and 14 were above 50% in the Spring 2017.

Recommendations

After reviewing the challenges encountered by departments within the classroom scheduling process, the University Planning Committee provides the following recommendations to improve the process effectiveness and efficiency.

Recommendation 1:

Add functionality to LionPath to allow for course information to be automatically populated for each semester from the previous year’s information.  This would significantly reduce the staff time required to develop the initial classroom request and it will also reduce the possibility for data entry errors, especially with the settings that support the CollegeNET Optimizer.

Recommendation 2:

Add functionality to LionPath to enable the automatic roll-over of classrooms from the previous year.  This would be similar to the previous approach that prioritized the previous use of the room, provided that the room was used to a 70% capacity per Policy AD-82 – Classroom Scheduling.

Recommendation 3:

Add functionality to the CollegeNET Optimizer to allow for an instructor to be scheduled in the same classroom when teaching multiple sections of a course within two adjacent standard time periods.  This will reduce the disruption to class instructors by not having to relocate to a new classroom.

Recommendation 4:

Add functionality to LionPath and CollegeNET Optimizer to include prioritized classroom scheduling for departments in a similar manner as the previous ISIS system, and in compliance with Policy AD-82 – Classroom Scheduling.

Recommendation 5:

Add functionality to the CollegeNet Optimizer to only schedule classes in the 53 newly reassigned GPCs that were previously used for departmental functions when a room that meets the scheduling criteria is not otherwise available.  This would enable the departments to continue to have a priority for these spaces, except when the rooms are needed for classes due to full capacity at the time period.  The departments can then schedule classes or other department activities within these classrooms.

Recommendation 6:

Evaluate the class schedule time periods to ensure that departments are complying with the 45% maximum classroom scheduling from 10 – 2 pm, and minimum of 15% of course offerings on each day of the week (Monday to Friday), and Maximum of 30% of course offerings on any day of the week (Monday to Friday), as stated in Academic Administrative Policy C-1.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNIVERSITY PLANNING

  • James Adair
  • Richard Bundy III
  • Kevin Cockroft
  • Peter Eberle
  • David Gray
  • Nicholas Jones
  • Binh Le
  • David Lieb
  • Frantisek Marko
  • John Messner
  • Padma Patil
  • Laura Pauley, Chair
  • Nicholas Pearson
  • Vansh Prabhu
  • Andrew Reisinger
  • Gavin Robertson
  • Jeff Robzen
  • Ira Saltz
  • Shuang Shen
  • Steinn Sigurdsson, Vice Chair
  • Ford Stryker
  • Ming Wang
  • Jong Yun