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Let’s Improve Class Scheduling

Jordan Lefaivre 3(L)

After a mix-up with my class timetable this semester, I thought it was time to explore some of the problems with the current scheduling regime.  The challenges in creating an effective scheduling system are numerous.  There will be drawbacks to any scheduling system.  Despite this, there is no doubt that the current system can and should be improved.

The first and most important goal should be preventing unnecessary trips to the office of the Vice Dean.  Making an appointment in order to request special permission to enroll in a class causes unnecessary stress and inconvenience.  I am sure the Vice Dean does not wish to address everyone’s individual scheduling needs.  Conversely, I am sure students prefer the convenience of an automated scheduling system.

Next, there should be as little overlap amongst classes as possible.  It is incredibly frustrating to find that one is barred from enrolling in a desired class because it overlaps with a class in which one is already enrolled.  While this problem is inevitable, and should be expected, it happens far too frequently.  It is very apparent that certain time slots are far more common than others.  Alternatively, there are several time slots that offer very few classes.

I cannot stress this problem enough.  Not only must students scramble to claim one of the limited seats, if they fail to claim one, they may be forced to re-jig the rest of their timetable in order to fulfill their graduation requirements.  When this occurs, it is often at the expense of optional courses that may be of great personal importance.

While this game of timetable musical chairs is occurring, students must have an eye on the examination schedule.  In undergraduate studies at the U of A, the examination schedule was created according to the timeslot of the class.  All classes taught in a given timeslot were allotted the same examination time.  This system made it impossible for conflicts to occur between examinations.  It ought to be explored why a similar system has not been implemented in this faculty.

We must ask what is causing these class conflicts and explore possible solutions.  Sessional professors generally require early morning and evening timeslots.  The remaining times however assigned, should be done with an eye towards providing the least amount of conflict for the students.  I understand that teaching is only one aspect of the job for a professor, but I encourage professors to be flexible in the times they are willing to teach.

The limited supply of classroom space contributes to the problem.  Students should be open to the possibility of attending classes outside of the Law Centre.  There are several lecture theatres available in the buildings surrounding the Law Centre.  (For the love of all that is holy, not the Fine Arts Building!  I do not think I could withstand the muffled sound of avant-garde flute music coming through the walls during a lecture.)

There are so many variables in this problem; I have only scratched the surface.   Hopefully you have some ideas that you can pass on to the office of the Vice Dean.