Dal reviews scheduling methods, classroom options

Consultants hold student and faculty input sessions to help Dalhousie improve their system of class scheduling and classroom choice

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Chem 1022, an open course, has permanently moved from the Life Sciences Building due to having too many students in the class for the room. (Photo: Marie David)

Dalhousie University has hired a consulting firm to help better understand problems in scheduling and classroom allocation.

The university hopes the review will show how much time students spend making their timetables, who students contact for help, and how students "define a quality timetable" said Susan Spence Wach, chair of the university classroom committee.

Michel de Jocas, principal consultant on the review, said he wants to know what kind of questions students ask themselves.

"Does it work for me? Does it allow me to have part time work? Does it allow me to pick my kids up at day care," he said.


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Dalhousie University has three campuses. Studley, the main campus, Carleton and Sexton. Each campus has its own faculties.

Lynn MacDonald of the Registrar's Office said that timetables need to take into account academic requirements as well as the room used to teach the course.

Making a timetable for school is frustrating for some students. Kari Jonas said she finds the online system difficult for her to make her timetable. "I always find it a little bit confusing" said Jonas.

Student's voice

Three student input sessions were held Wednesday and Thursday of last week. The sessions were in the format of a focus group where students who were invited discussed how they make their timetables. There were also faculty sessions, which focused on the classrooms and what type of qualities a good classroom should have.

Kate Harris, is a graduate student in anthropology who also teaches.

"I have major concerns for my students and myself. There are spacing issues that withhold our learning and ability to teach," said Harris.

She said the questionnaire is not personal enough. "The questions were narrow. There was no space to put extra comments. They should make a new list to include that."

De Jocas said the review is still in the beginning stages. "We are very much in a learning phase of understanding what the issues might be or the concerns, and there are a few. That's why we are here."

Dalhousie has worked with Educational Consulting Services before. The consultants have done a planning assessment at the Sexton campus and already understand how things operate at Dalhousie.

University officials were unavailable to comment on the cost of the consultation or the number of students who participated in the review.

Spacing problems

The review also addresses how to efficiently use classrooms. "It's about wanting to make sure that we are making the best use of our classrooms. That we're taking a look at providing efficient scheduling for students, for faculty members," said Spence Wach.

MacDonald said for most courses, it is faculty who determine the number of students who enroll. She said most courses that do not have a limit to the number of students who can register, are a bit more difficult to place.

The results of the review will be given to the classroom committee in a couple of months to decide what adjustments to make.

Updates

On Jan. 25, Susan Spence Wach told Unews that 20 students and 52 staff attended the sessions. She said they had hoped for higher numbers but those who were present had valuable input. The review will continue as scheduled.

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