The process behind assigning classrooms to courses is not as simple as some might think. Space, time and keeping students on track for graduation are the primary factors.
“Each school and college is allocated a certain number of classrooms depending on the size of their specific school or college,” Senior Associate Director of Scheduling Stacey Caiazzo said. “Basically, they use that space to the best of their ability.”
The majority of classes – about 80 percent – are held in those colleges’ designated spaces, Caiazzo said. Those that do not, nicknamed “homeless classes,” Caiazzo assigns to either university spaces or unfilled rooms.
In addition to space, time plays a large factor in how a class is scheduled. Most classes follow either a Monday- Wednesday-Friday matrix, a Tuesday-Thursday matrix, an evening matrix or a summer matrix. While about 70 percent follow the time matrix, not all can. Any class that is to to be held off-matrix must be submitted and approved by Peter Jones, the senior vice provost for undergraduate studies.
“By and large, I try to minimize the number of courses that are off-matrix because it has an impact on the student’s ability to put together a course schedule that meets the requirements of about 15 or 16 credits per semester in order to graduate in eight semesters,” Jones said.
With 82 percent of the Class of 2018 in a four-year graduation agreement with the university, known as “Fly in 4,” administrators have added pressure to ensure all necessary courses are offered.
This impact comes from long classes that do not fit the general time schedule. A high number of these come out of the Tyler School of Art and the Boyer College of Music and Dance, where classes may require more preparation or instruction time.
Beyond space and time, however, is the need of the students’ and their abilities to make the most of their semester.
Maximizing the number of classes on the traditional time schedule is the main goal, Jones said. For classes that need to be longer or at different times based on the nature of the course, student adaptability is essential in its scheduling.
“Every department sits down and tries to work with the scheduler to set the best times for those courses,” Jones said. “For example, every time there is a need to have a class that is not on matrix and is going to be a two or two and a half hour class, it’s not going to be put in the prime time of [between] 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.”
Another example of how the university maximizes the efficiency of the class schedule is offering a waitlist to students when classes fill up. This allows the university administration and the schools and colleges to know as early as possible where the demand is and determine a need for added sections.
Jones and the scheduling office’s main priority is proving an academic environment where students can efficiently enroll for classes.
“The university is tracking very carefully a student’s ability to get into the courses they need in order to graduate on time,” Jones said.
Jared Whalen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org