EMM Offers New Tool for Understanding Implications of Curricular Changes

As part of an ongoing effort to introduce and improve course scheduling analytics, EMM recently undertook a project to “reverse engineer” the DePaul University Catalog.  The resulting application, called Catalog Course-Program Search, supports faculty curriculum committees and course schedulers by helping them better understand the systemic implications of changing course offerings and program requirements.

Data Transparency Makes for More Efficient Planning
Behind the scenes, faculty committees work to map out course requirements for their programs, which are published twice a year in the DePaul catalog.  However, there is no easy way in the catalog to see how or if a particular course links to multiple programs.  Drawing from current PeopleSoft data, the new application provides the ability to search any course to identify which academic programs require it. For example, searching CMNS 315, a health communications course, shows that it currently fulfills a requirement for more than 10 programs across the colleges of Science and Health and Communication. 

Making course catalog data more accessible allows chairs, directors and associate deans to have a holistic view of student demand for courses in their program, not just demand from their own students. This tool will allow chairs to identify other programs that require their classes and properly manage capacity by coordinating across units and departments. They gain greater insight into how department-level decisions affect the students not just in their own department but in others across the university. 

Additional Analytic Tools in Development
The Catalog Course-Program Search is just one instrument to support faculty and administrators with better data for making decisions that move students toward degree completion.  EMM is developing additional analytic tools, including a dashboard that shows how enrollment trends each term fluctuate during the registration period at the course and section level. The dashboard will provide historical guidance for department chairs and associate deans to decide if or when to add or cancel a course section. While some departments currently collect and save this information about their own courses, this tool will make the data available to the university. 

Building these tools in-house allows EMM to address the university’s unique needs and interface with its current systems. While still undergoing testing, a preliminary version of the Catalog Course-Program Search is currently available on Tableau while the enrollment trend dashboard is scheduled to be available in late October. If you have not previously accessed the university’s Tableau system but would like to do so, please email tabadmin@depaul.edu to set up your access.

For questions or more information about the new analytical tools, contact Julie Artis, associate professor of Sociology and director of Course Scheduling Analytics.