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Registrar starts beta testing Degree Works

By Amber Tong     10/20/14 6:46pm

Rice University’s Office of the Registrar is beta testing for a new, web-based degree audit system called Degree Works that is integrated into ESTHER, according to Registrar David Tenney (Sid Richardson ’87).

“We’re about to begin a staggered roll-out,” Tenney said. “The first thing we are going to do is beta test with 50-60 students the roll out of university [graduation] requirements in Degree Works.”

According to Tenney, ECAPP, the current audit system, has an unsatisfactory design and very limited functions.

“[ECAPP is] very clunky, and it’s not user friendly at all,” Tenney said. “[Also] it is limited, and it will never be able to show anything more than your university graduation requirements.”

Tenney said the major difference in Degree Works is that it takes individual degree requirements into account.

“Using Degree Works in the future, you will eventually be able to see the requirements associated with your academic major or minor, along with your university graduation requirements,” Tenney said.

Another significant feature of Degree Works, according to Tenney, is its built-in “What If” analysis function, which will inform students precisely what they have to do if they were to change their minds about majors or minors.

“Perhaps you are an Anthropology major and you’re thinking, maybe I might want to double major in Psychology,” Tenney said. “You can click a button … and it will give you the exact details of what you’ll need to complete the second major, exactly what classes you’ll have to take, etc.

Tenney said the new system would be helpful for many different groups, including students, academic advisors and department administrators.

“If I get excited about it, please forgive me,” Tenney said. “I see Degree Works as a tool that will actually provide benefit to all the different groups and members of our community.”

Tenney said from an advising perspective, Degree Works is in no way a replacement for traditional advising. Rather, it actually facilitates it.

“You can get into deeper topics [during academic advising sessions] because looking at basic requirements would be a whole lot easier,” Tenney said.

According to Tenney, if everything goes well with the beta testing group, part of the system will be available to the whole student body within this semester.

“We want students to look at it, use it, test it and give us their comments,” Tenney said. “Our hope and expectation is to roll out the Degree Works auditing of university graduations requirements this fall.”

Tenney said the uncertainty lies in when they will get confirmation regarding curriculum requirements from all the departments.

“Our office has spent [over a year] scribing curriculum requirements,” Tenney said. “Over the next several months … as academic departments give us their sign-offs on their curriculum, we will then update Degree Works with that and roll out the auditing of major and minor requirements.”

McMurtry College sophomore Sharon Cho said she appreciates that the new system will help students by providing important information.

“I think it will give incentives for departments to update their curriculum requirements more regularly,” Cho said. “Now I can trust what’s on the website as up-to-date information. It sounds very exciting.”

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