Faculty Approve Pre-Registration Plan
Issue   |   Wed, 11/11/2015 - 01:45

The faculty voted on Nov. 3 to approve a pilot program that will extend the pre-registration process to four weeks. The motion to approve the program passed with a vote of 57 in favor, 46 against and eight abstaining.

The pilot program will be implemented by the registrar’s office and will be in place for pre-registration next spring semester.

Under the new system, the first two weeks of pre-registration will be the same, beginning with advising period in the first week. The first round of pre-registration will take place the following week, during which students can register for classes and caps will not be enforced. The third week is reserved for “roster management,” in which class rosters can be cut down to size by the registrar, and students will be informed if they are dropped.

The final week will be a second round of pre-registration, to give students another opportunity to select courses. Caps can be enforced in this second round. However, as long as students meet prerequisites and attend the first day of class, and unless unforeseen circumstances arise such as lack of classroom space, their enrollment in their courses is fully guaranteed.

The new plan is intended to reduce the stress of add/drop week for students.

“An involuntary removal from a course that you thought you were going to take — we’re going to try to make those fewer, because those are the ones that have ramifications,” said David Hall, professor of physics and chair of the faculty’s Committee on Educational Policy. “You’re all signed up for your courses, but then there’s one you thought you were getting into, that suddenly, you didn’t. And that can have a cascade effect on all your other courses.”

The program also aims to fix problems that faculty face under the current system.

“You don’t know until two weeks in, who is in your course,” said Adam Honig, professor of economics and former chair of the Committee on Educational Policy. “You can have a problem set due the second week of class, and a lot of the students haven’t even attended class yet. It makes it harder to teach.”

Honig served as chair of the committee until the end of last year. He oversaw the committee’s revisions of the proposal and pushed to present it to the whole faculty.

One provision of the system offers faculty the option of requiring instructor permission for their courses. If they choose this designation, students will not be fully guaranteed enrollment in the course in the second round of registration. According to Hall, pre-registration for a course that is designated for instructor permission will be essentially similar to the current system. The provision will essentially be an opt-out clause for the new program, and is primarily intended to give faculty more time to check the qualifications of registered students.

“The hope was to lose as little faculty autonomy as possible with the change of guaranteeing class spots,” said Sam Keaser ’17E, a student member of the committee. “And I think instructor permission will allow faculty who really value that type of autonomy to not see any change whatsoever in how they do registration.”

Originally presented by registrar Kathleen Kilventon to the committee last fall, the proposal underwent revisions throughout last year and was presented to the faculty in May. The vote was postponed to this semester because discussions had pushed the May meeting over its time limit. This year, the committee worked the instructor permission provision into the proposal before it was presented to the faculty last week.

“I believe the changes from the original proposal make sense,” Kilventon said. “When you are putting together something like this, it is difficult to anticipate all of the possible scenarios.

The feedback received in May helped the Committee on Educational Policy work with those faculty that needed more flexibility than the original proposal offered.”