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Survey set to evaluate academic experience

By Anita Alem     2/4/14 6:00pm

The University Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the Student Association collaborated during the fall semester and over winter break to create a survey that evaluates current academic policies and will lead to recommending specific updates to these policies, according to Student Association External Vice President Ravi Sheth. 

John Cornwell, the associate vice president of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, said feedback from undergraduate students will be sought in the decision-making process. 

"There's an interest in each of these groups and the constituency they represent [regarding] students dropping courses after add/drop deadline and international study-abroad credit transfers," Cornwell said. "Similarly, we'd like to know more about student experiences with transferring credit from summer school. We'd like to find out the facts and the opinions of the entire undergraduate population here."



According to Sheth, the CUC has discussed these issues internally with several undergraduate representatives, including college senators and SA Academics committee chairs. Some of the changes currently under consideration include the difficulty that students have with registering for their required courses due to students who drop classes after the add/drop period. Sheth also identified transfer credit issues that undergraduate students face.

"With regards to transfer credit, the university needs to understand barriers to receiving transfer credit and how this process can be streamlined," Sheth said. "All of these changes need to be informed by students, and that is why the survey and student response is such an important part of this process."

John Haug, a Martel College freshman, said he experienced trouble with registration this semester.

"The most difficulty I faced was with registering for FWIS courses, because when there are a lot of people who are not getting their first or second choice, the process becomes inefficient and frustrating," Haug said. "I also only had two classes by the time registration ended, so I ended up having to struggle with add/drop, and luckily, one of my courses added spots."

According to Registrar David Tenney (Sid '87), the survey is uniquely designed to be highly specific and relevant to individual students.

"Instead of just sending a survey that's extremely general, [these groups are] working together and providing data so that the survey will be targeted to each student individually," Tenney said. "Each student will be able to answer questions about their specific academic history, why they could or could not get a course to transfer in, and why they have dropped courses after the add deadline. It will give students the opportunity to speak specifically, and it'll give us the opportunity to understand this at a much more relevant level."

Due to the specificity of the survey and the improvements that students could see, Sheth, Tenney and Cornwell encouraged student participation.

"I would ask students to definitely complete the survey," said Tenney. "It's a wonderful opportunity to be heard. We're all working on this to make the survey as streamlined, [user-friendly]and as relevant as possible."

According to Cornwell, the survey will be sent out at the end of this week and will be conducted for approximately two weeks. After this period, the CUC will analyze the data to identify any relevant issues and consider potential solutions. Some changes may take longer than others to implement and may lead into the fall 2014 semester.



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