Case Study: Wilmington University Course Scheduling Process

Process Streamlining of Course Scheduling

JMA assisted Wilmington University with a redesign of its course scheduling process.

  • Client: Wilmington University
  • Process: Course Scheduling Process
  • JMA Methodology: Process Streamlining

Summary

Wilmington University faced a challenge. The University had experienced a huge increase in number of students, campuses and programs, and expected even more growth in the future. However, the Registrar’s process for scheduling courses, assigning faculty / instructors, and communicating course availability to students was becoming obsolete and rapidly losing ground.

The Provost and Registrar decided change was needed and assembled a team of seven staff to streamline the course scheduling process. The scope included creating and updating courses, determining demand and offerings, and communicating information about courses and offerings to students.

The team’s charge was to:

  • improve the experience for both those involved in the course creation process and those using the process to schedule courses
  • make the process intuitive and easy-to-use, integrated, effective, efficient and bureaucracy-free
  • reduce the number of course changes and cancellations after scheduling
  • provide optimized class sizes

Using JM Associates’ Process Streamlining methodology, and with facilitation provided by a JMA associate, the team mapped out of the existing process, identified the problems, brainstormed and researched fixes, and recommended to the sponsors changes to improve the process.

Problems

Wilmington University identified several major issues with the course scheduling process:

  • had evolved over many years, and changes introduced had often complicated things, leading to confusion, frustration, inefficiency and potential errors
  • work require to gather and analyze required information and create the schedule was tedious, with a lot of back-and-forth among offices and campuses
  • process involved too much paper and staff time
  • each division used a different approach, leading to duplicated efforts and inconsistencies
  • each semester’s scheduling was based solely on previous year’s data, with little known about longer-term trends or graduation requirement demands
  • frequent cancellation of low-enrollment classes and a lack of seats in high-demand classes, leading to further inefficiencies in faculty hiring and classroom usage
  • printed course schedules was immediately outdated, with students not always referring to the more up-to-date web site
  • course information was presented by program and site, but students couldn’t sort it in ways that would assist in course decision-making (time offered, location, division, major, etc.)

Solutions

The team’s recommendations included:

  • define roles and responsibilities to eliminate duplication while increasing integrity and accuracy
  • eliminate paper-based processes and redundant steps and decrease tasks that do not add value
  • leverage student system features, capturing data only once
  • automate tasks to increase accuracy and decrease data entry
  • decrease preperation and publication time for the course booklet
  • provide continued analysis and information to divisions during pre-registration and registration periods so they can make course changes that reflect actual demand
  • establish consistent processes and procedures across all divisions to encourage cross-divisional planning and information sharing
  • deliver new, cross-divisional data on student class levels, new students admitted, previous demand, and dropped courses to help coordinators to make more informed course scheduling decisions
  • ensure faculty and divisions continue to be focused on course requirements and policies while the Registrar continues as the guardian of these policies
  • capture and leverage information about adds and changes in previous semesters to inform course scheduling in the future