Each year, students at the University of Indianapolis plan out their academic schedules and register for classes. Starting with the 2018-2019 academic year, the university will return to single-term registration after using multi-term registration for the past two academic years.
Registrar Joshua Hayes said this change resulted from concerns about schedule flexibility and student needs. He said that scheduling courses far in advance had impacted the university’s ability to respond to changes in enrollment.
“If a department needed to add a section of a course or change the time a course was meeting or change the room [where] a course was meeting because the enrollment had grown, that caused problems and really caused some unnecessary headaches for students,” Hayes said. “Schedules that they [students] had set potentially a year before were changed, and then we would have to notify [them]. It was really sort of hampering our ability to be flexible and to meet the needs of our students.”
Associate Department Chair and Professor of English Jennifer Camden said that faculty had to redo their work over and over under multi-term registration due to changing schedules.
“I used to submit a schedule, and as things changed — and they inevitably did — I would have to keep submitting updates and revisions,” Camden said. “It created a lot of work for the faculty and for the registrar’s office to keep tinkering with the schedule. I will not promise that we won’t still have changes or updates that need to be made, but it won’t be quite so many over such a long stretch of time.”
Associate Registrar Janna Ulbright said that the procedure initially used when changing to multi-term registration two years ago involved several behind-the-scenes changes to UIndy’s registration system. It also affected course planning for faculty because departments had to plan out Semesters I and II and Summer, rather than just planning for one semester at a time.
Hayes said the university had noticed the amount of communication between students and their academic advisors had decreased since implementation multi-term registration. Because students had to register for the entire year, they only saw their advisors once a year.
Hayes said that the university believes the communication between students and advisors is important enough that it should happen more than once a year. Interim Director of Center for Advising and Student Achievement Sunni Manges said that she considers the change a win for faculty, students and academic advisors, and is excited about the return of single-term registration.
“The best part of my job is meeting with students and helping them navigate their time at UIndy,” Manges said. “Single-term registration allows advisors to meet with our students more frequently and cultivate those relationships. . . [and] allows academic departments the flexibility to adjust course offerings for Semester II to best meet the students’ needs.”
Camden encouraged communication between advisors and students. She said that she understands why some students may not be pleased with the decision to switch registration procedures but that they should try to seek out their advisors for guidance.
“One thing I think that students might see as not being a benefit to the change is not knowing what is going to be offered in Semester II when they register for Semester I. But I would encourage them to seek out their faculty advisors,” Camden said. “The faculty, within the majors, know what kinds of course rotations we [UIndy] typically offer courses on or know who to ask to get the answers to those questions. So, if you say, ‘I need to take English 340, when will it be offered?’ the department chair or faculty advisor should be able to answer your question for you.”
According to Associate Provost for Academic Systems Mary Beth Bagg, the university had looked at studies from the Educational Advisory Board and the original idea of using multi-term registration was a part of a “pilot project” that the university was trying out to see if it would help with student retention.
According to Ulbright, one of the goals of multi-term registration was for students to plan their schedules in advance so that they would know exactly how their academic year would go and what their class schedules would look like.
Ulbright said that it is unfortunate that multi-term registration sometimes has negative effects on students.
“Sometimes students change majors, or departments have to change class schedules, so it [multi-term registration] didn’t work out exactly the way we thought it may have,” Ulbright said.
Switching back to single-term registration will help ensure that students are not placed in a difficult position or penalized when they have to change their schedule, according to Camden.
“If they [students] are making their best prediction for Semester II and then something happens, and they need to change their schedule, then [under the multi-term process] it was harder for them to have the flexibility,” Camden said. “I think [that by] going back to registering a semester at a time, by the time registration comes around, you know how you’re doing in your classes and what you should be taking, and it sort of returns to a level playing field of everyone making those decisions at the same time.”
Before changing procedures, the university sought feedback from faculty, departments and students. CASA conducted the survey in the fall of 2016, the first semester after switching the registration process. According to Bagg, the combined feedback led to the decision to change back to single-term registration.
A survey that was conducted by CASA polled 1,660 students, according to Manges. According to the results, 41.1 percent of students wanted to register for only Semester I, 23.2 percent of students wanted to register for only Semesters I and II, 18.2 percent of students wanted to register for Semester I, Semester II and the summer semester and 17.3 percent of students wanted to register for either the first, second or third option.
In an anonymous, informal survey of 206 students conducted by The Reflector, 9.7 percent did not have any preference and 54.4 percent of students said they preferred registering for one year at the time. The survey provided a place for students to describe why they chose the response they did. Most
students who said they preferred registering for one year at a time noted that they liked being able to see what courses would be available for the entire year and plan ahead for both school and work.
“I need to know the class year round schedule because some classes offered Semester I are not offered Semester II, and it screws everything up,” said a junior health and physical education major.
Of the students surveyed, 35.9 percent preferred single-term registration. A majority of those students said that this is because registering for one
semester at a time kept students from wasting time on inapplicable classes in the event of a major change. Many also said that it is easier for them to plan one semester at a time. “Registering for one semester at a time reduces a lot of stress,” said a junior English professional writing major. “It also allows me to know what classes I need each semester so that I don’t miss a class I am required to take.”
Hayes said the decision to change back to single-term registration was not one the university took lightly and it required a great deal of collaboration between the Registrar’s office, CASA and the provost’s office. Hayes also said that the provost’s office had been in charge of coordinating communication among different constituents across campus and that the decision was not made unilaterally.