Action Project: Scheduling Revisions for the Semester Calendar

Charge and Members

Action Project Team

Michael Fiske, Steve Midkiff, Robert Mendris, Martha Rader, John Kelley, Ginny Ramey, Joe Van Deusen, Chuck Warner

Charge to the Team

The goal of this project is to improve the scheduling of courses at Shawnee State so students can complete their programs in a timely manner by:

  • efficient use of classrooms and other space,
  • better use of days of the week and time slots for classes, and
  • decreasing course conflicts so that students are better served and able to keep on track to graduation with minimal disruptions.

Objectives to realize this goal include:

  • investigate the use of computer-based scheduling programs to increase efficiency and reduce conflicts and
  • improved communication among departments to coordinate course scheduling.

The “Scheduling” Action Project Team is charged with implementing this AQIP project over the next two years. A copy of the project description that was submitted to AQIP is attached for additional background information.

The Action Project Team is responsible for:

  • Gathering information about the current status of scheduling, including:
    1. room use statistics, course conflicts, departmental scheduling requirements, and
    2. student, staff and faculty satisfaction with scheduling system and procedures, and
    3. other possible measures of scheduling difficulties and successes.

  • Developing a set of assumptions concerning the best scheduling system for Shawnee State University.

  • Examining scheduling systems and structures at peer institutions, including software used to schedule classes, rooms, and other activities.

  • Communicating regularly with appropriate campus groups concerning AQIP Action Project #2, including:
    1. preparing information for campus-wide review,
    2. updating the Strategic Planning Committee on Action Team #2 progress,
    3. coordination and meeting with the Director of Institutional Planning and other Action Project Team leaders, and
    4. obtaining input from campus offices involved in scheduling.

  • Submission of recommended changes in scheduling systems and structures that will increase room use efficiency; minimize conflicts for students; and enhance student retention, persistence to graduation and satisfaction with advising to the President, Cabinet, and Strategic Planning Committee for preliminary review.

  • Reporting on project progress and outcomes, including:
    1. minutes of all meetings, hearings, focus groups, etc.,
    2. preparation of a final report at the end of the project,
    3. assistance in preparing annual AQIP updates, and
    4. participation in building the Shawnee State AQIP Systems Portfolio.



January–March Committee organization and data collection concerning scheduling at Shawnee State
March–May Peer institution investigation of scheduling systems, structures, and procedures
April–June Discussion with departments about scheduling needs for semester conversion
June–September Investigation of alternative scheduling systems, software, and procedures and submission of preliminary recommendations for review by President, Cabinet, and Strategic Planning Committee
September–October Revision of recommendations for submission to campus and development of specific outcome measures to judge the success of the project
October and November Campus-wide discussion of proposed changes


January–March Monitor implementation of proposed changes as appropriate offices and campus groups begin faculty and staff training, changes in structures and procedures, communication with students. Build summer and fall schedules for 2007 using new processes and systems.
April–May Monitor registration using new systems, coordinate with Advising Action Project
June–October Evaluate new systems and processes using outcome measures developed for this project.
November–December Report on Action Project activity, challenges, successes, recommendations, etc.

Project Description

Institution: Shawnee State University
Submitted: 2005-12-19


Planned project kickoff date: January 9, 2006
Target completion date: December 15, 2007
Actual completion date:

A. Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:

Scheduling Revisions for the Semester Calendar

B. Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:

The goal of this project is to improve the scheduling of courses at Shawnee State by:

  • more efficient use of classrooms and other space,
  • better use of days of the week and time slots for classes, and
  • decreasing course conflicts so that students are better served and able to keep on track to graduation with minimal disruptions.

Objectives to realize this goal include:

  • investigate the use of computer-based scheduling programs to increase efficiency and reduce conflicts and
  • improved communication among departments to coordinate course scheduling.

C. Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:

Category 6: Supporting Institutional Operations

D. Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:

Shawnee State University is switching from a quarter calendar to semesters so an opportunity to become more responsive to the needs and expectations of a changing student population exists. The current perception is that too many courses are offered in the same time slots creating conflicts for students and creating potential difficulties in being able to schedule courses necessary for graduation. Friday's are not effectively utilized under the quarter calendar. The switch to semesters will allow for better space utilization. In addition, it is hoped that a change will occur in the "scheduling" culture that currently exists on campus which is based on a historical approach to creating a schedule.

E. List the organizational areas – institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units – most affected by or involved in this Action Project:

The groups most affected by this project will be the Provost's Office; the Registrar's Office; College of Arts and Sciences and its six departments; and the College of Professional Studies and its three departments. Other offices on campus such as Facilities, the Student Success Center, and Student Affairs may be indirectly affected by the Scheduling Action Project.

F. Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:

Communication among departments in identifying and avoiding course schedule conflicts will improve.

Building the schedule each semester will utilize results of the communication among departments and the input from departments concerning scheduling parameters and priorities.

The creation of the schedule will utilize computer software that minimizes conflicts and efficiently assigns space and time.

G. Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):

Shawnee State University is transitioning from a quarter calendar to a semester calendar. The semester calendar will begin in the summer of 2007. This project will be in place during the switch to semesters and beyond to assure the implementation of new procedures and structures and the collection and analysis of data regarding the impact of the project.

H. Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:

An Action Project Team of 6-8 members will be formed to provide the detailed planning, implementation, and assessment of the Scheduling Action Project. The university's Strategic Planning Committee will provide an oversight and coordination role with the Action Projects. Administrative responsibility for monitoring and assisting the Action Project progress will be with the Associate Provost/Director of Institutional Planning.

I. Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:

Shawnee State University currently has a low efficiency of classroom space utilization when compared with other public institutions in Ohio. This project will measure classroom usage statistics and the use of time slots during the week. We will attempt to measure scheduling conflicts, possibly through student and faculty surveys.

J. Other information (e.g., publicity, sponsor or champion, etc.):

An institutional concern and need identified during the Vital Focus and Conversation Day was improved communication on campus. This project will consciously model good communications by regularly informing the campus community about progress through multiple communication approaches including, web postings, emails, newsletters, and reports to governance groups (faculty, administrators, staff and students). The project will also seek input from campus groups by a variety of means that may include surveys, focus groups, meetings with key individuals, open meetings, and requests for information.

Meeting Minutes

February 7, 2006

Present: Michael Fiske, Steve Midkiff, Robert Mendris, Martha Rader, Ginnie Moore, Joe Van Deusen, Chuck Warner

II a. Semester schedule models

Peer institution blocking models were distributed. These will be discussed at the next meeting.

II b. Ed Astra

Robert presented information on two firms that provide scheduling software.

Chuck suggested looking at Schedule 25 that is companion software to Resource 25. Both are compatible with Janzibar. It was noted that Resource 25 does not have a scheduling optimization package. Currently Resource 25 is underutilized. Sandy Little will be invited to our next meeting in order to inform us about what data is being entered in Resource 25.

Chuck will arrange for web demonstrations by both EdAstra and Schedule 25. Martha's assumptions will form the basis for questions to the two firms. Chuck should focus on technical questions and Joe should focus on facilities questions.

III a. Assumptions regarding scheduling

Martha presented a draft of "Assumptions regarding semester scheduling."

There was much wide–ranging discussion about both the goals and assumptions involved in semester scheduling. It was agreed that this committee should only concern itself with academic concerns. Thus, the title of Martha's draft is revised to "Assumptions regarding semester academic scheduling."

It was pointed out that Martha's list includes desirable outcomes/processes and assumptions.

The assumptions are:

  • Utilize a five–day week to minimize scheduling conflicts for students;
  • Enlist the participation of all academic units in scheduling courses over the five–day week;
  • Discourage use of excessively long time–blocks that are not conducive to student learning;
  • Facilitate data capture at the university;
  • Reward the use of standardized start and stop times for classes.

February 28, 2006

Present: Michael Fiske, John Kelley, Steve Midkiff, Ginnie Moore, Martha Rader,
Chuck Warner.

I. Old Business

a. Semester schedule models

It was agreed that the blocking models from Fort Lewis College and Central State College probably provide the best fit with SSU. Michael Fiske distributed a blocking model based on the Fort Lewis schedule to team members on 1 March.

b. Review EdAstra and Resource 25 presentations

The team held web conferences with EdAstra to review their Platinum Analytics Tool on 22 February and with Resource 25 to review their facilities management product on 24 February.

The team agreed that it is not possible to have the EdAstra Platinum product operational by Fall 2006; but it was noted that this product could be valuable in advising, retention of students, and planning. To that end, Chuck Warner will schedule a web conference to view the EdAstra base solution product (The conference is scheduled for 4 pm, Thursday, 9 March.

There was considerable discussion of shortcomings in the current use of Resource 25.

The Action Project Team strongly recommends that:

  • Scheduling software be positioned properly within the university for efficient use.
  • Scheduling software needs sufficient budgetary and personnel support.

c. Assumptions regarding scheduling

Evening classes should start at 6 pm

 Annual Update Report to AQIP

Note: The AQIP explanation of each question is italicized at the bottom of the question.

1. Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.

Action Project Two on Scheduling has a team of eight members (two faculty and six staff) who met regularly in the winter and spring quarters after the Action Project Kick-off event on January 6, 2006. The Scheduling Action Project had some immediate goals related to SSU's semester conversion and some longer term goals related to efficient scheduling using computer software and improved communication among departments.

The team collected information about peer institutions, had demonstrations from software vendors, and developed a list of scheduling assumptions for the semester calendar. After reviewing a number of scheduling blocks, the Action Project Team recommended a semester scheduling system to the institution. The scheduling times in the model allows for a variety of semester credit hour class types and increases the efficient use of all time periods. The university should see increased classroom use as a result of the semester conversion and adoption of the scheduling model.

The Action Team completed its short term goals during the winter and spring quarters 2006.

Describe concrete achievements: meetings, data gathered and analyzed, plans made or implemented, changes in processes, and measured results. If you haven't made much progress, explain why you think things are moving slower than planned.

2. Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.

With recommendation from the university-wide Budget and Academic Quality Improvement Planning Committee (BAQIP), the President appointed members of the Action Project Team and provided a charge and timeline for the project. Dr. Michael Fiske, Chair of the Math Department and Chair of BAQIP, agreed to Chair the Action Project Team.

Meeting minutes have been placed on the institution's AQIP web pages. The Action Team members have met with numerous individuals and groups on campus as they collected information and data about scheduling. Information from peer institutions was helpful in examining schedule blocking models. Regular reports concerning the Student Advising Action Project progress were made at the monthly meetings of BAQIP.

AQIP wants Information about motivation and communication: how you kept this Project on the institution's priority list, how you maintained general awareness of the importance and progress of the Project, and how you kept those working on it directly active and motivated.

3. Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.

The Scheduling Action Project will continue to examine information and data collected in early 2006 to refine the scheduling process at Shawnee State University. The Action Project Two team will particularly be looking at processes to improve communication among departments to minimize scheduling conflicts for students. Continued examination of software solutions will also be a goal of the team. The Action Project Team plans to evaluate its recommendations and solutions by collecting data related to student and faculty satisfaction concerning scheduling, room and time block usage, and schedule conflicts.

One "mini-project" within the Scheduling Action Project is to use the new blocking model for scheduling along with the new semester curriculum in each academic program to build a mock schedule for the fall of 2007, the first term when Shawnee will be on the semester calendar. The Action Project Team has worked with the Registrar to obtain a draft schedule from each department chair over a year in advance of the transition. The registrar will use the department chair's input to create the mock schedule to test for room use efficiency, use of time blocks, avoidance of conflicts, and student friendliness. The Action Project Team is also encouraging departments to plan schedules for a full year along with tentative schedules for two year and four years into the future to assist students in their academic planning.

Be specific about the next critical steps you are planning to move the Action Project ahead. If your planning is vague or there is no planning at this point, explain why.

4. Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.

One of the goals of the change to the semester calendar is improved use of time and space at Shawnee State. Under the current quarter calendar, there is predominately a Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule with little use of Friday. The Action Project has proposed a scheduling block model that will increase the use of the full week. It is hoped that this will result in cost-savings, reduced competition for classroom space at high demand times, and increased satisfaction of students. The short-term results of this project may be of interest to other institutions going through a calendar or other major scheduling change.

Share practices (or processes, policies, procedures, or initiatives) that could be adopted or adapted at other institutions. AQIP is most interested in practices that would give value (better educational services, cost-savings, improved morale, more satisfied stakeholders, etc.) to another institution if they copied your innovation. If you believe that your work on this Project has little or no value for other institutions, explain why.

5. What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?

In one sense, the easy part of this project has been completed with the adoption of a scheduling block model, although there was a lot of discussion and give-and-take related to this short-term goal. The challenge of increasing communication among departments to reduce schedule conflicts and increase efficiency of classroom utilization awaits the Action Project Team in the fall. The Action Project may want to consider expanding the membership of the team or find some other way to engage academic leaders on campus.

This is an opportunity to get constructive, actionable feedback and advice from our review process. Use this question to specify where your blocks, gaps, sticking points, or problems are. If you have already fashioned strategies to deal with any challenge you face, share both the challenge and your strategy for meeting it.

6. The optional question:

If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help to stimulate progress on this action project, explain your need(s), and tell us who to contact and when?

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