Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 21:04
For many students, fulfilling major, minor, concentration and distribution requirements can be confusing. Traditionally, academic departments recorded credits for the students in their major while the Registrar's Office logged basic distribution requirements. Even the most basic of tasks, such as recording requirements to complete a minor, became burdensome. Beginning in the Fall Semester of 2013, DegreeWorks will change how students manage requirement fulfillments by streamlining the system.
DegreeWorks is a BannerWeb product, a company on which Davidson students already rely for academic records and class placement. It increases transparency between students and advisors, who can use the advising tool in the existing Banner system to view various graduation requirements as well as credits from AP tests, IB exams, study abroad programs and summer transfers. While other colleges use this product and contract out the coding for the system, Hansford Epes, the former registrar, has worked closely with ITS and the registrar's office to create Davidson's version. The most commonly asked questions have been made available online as the Registrar's office makes the school-wide transition.
Angie Dewberry succeeded Hansford Epes last fall and has worked closely in creating, testing and now implementing the software. "I like DegreeWorks because it has very concrete rules, but it also has some flexibility so that we [the Registrar's Office] can make waivers and exceptions,” she said.
While the traditional system included foreign language waivers for bilingual speakers and distribution credits for classes taken abroad, DegreeWorks will make checking and completing both of the tasks transparent and convenient. A new student will be able to see, for example, that not only were his/her AP scores received from College Board, but also that the two he/she wished to use as distribution requirements were selected.
The system will also make any future changes to major or distribution requirements much easier for students and teachers to juggle. This year, the most visible requirement changes were to the distribution requirements for the Class of 2016, though academic departments also occasionally tweak their majors and minors. Dewberry hopes that DegreeWorks should improve student-advisor meetings by freeing up more time to connect personally or discuss future career plans.
Possibly the most fascinating feature is the What If option, which lets students browse through majors, minors and (beginning this summer) concentrations. The system utilizes personal records to check student’s progress in completing a major.
As some around campus will have noticed, DegreeWorks began its integration this previous semester. A test group of two hundred students and twenty advisors took part, including Kathie Turner, Professor of Communication Studies. "I see DegreeWorks as a terrific, well-organized, visual display of things that were less efficiently collated," summarized Turner. It was “love at first sight."
Cole Barton, a Professor of Psychology and participating advisor, observed how, "the hard work of the registrar's office makes it easy to see what courses will fulfill what categories, and which are offered next semester."
“DegreeWorks is always evolving," Dewberry said eagerly. With close management by the registrar's office and ITS, the system is prepared to meet the changing standards in the future. Course changes for the next semester have already tested its adaptability, and DegreeWorks has surpassed every obstacle.