USG designs syllabus database to help students with course registration

Sruthi Meka, Staff Reporter

The Undergraduate Student Government wants to make course registration easier. With the new syllabus database, created by the Academic Affairs subcommittee, students can look through a resource bank of syllabi for a number of undergraduate courses.

“You hear from upperclassman, this class is hard, this class is easy, this class is a lot of work, and things like that, but they’re not very concrete things,” said Xiaoyu Li, vice president of the academic affairs committee.

“If you were able to see the syllabus, you would know better what you expected to learn in this class, what the assignments are, what the grading is like,” she added.

According to Li, the database, available on the USG academic affairs webpage, will also allow students to better plan their schedules to accommodate exams and minimize potential conflicts.

When the academic affairs committee initially passed the resolution to develop a syllabus database last year, they decided to work with the university to compile syllabi, which already were collected for accreditation purposes.

However, the committee realized that the syllabi weren’t being compiled in a user-friendly way. They decided to send their resolution to the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education (FSCUE).

“FSCUE did some more research and digging and got advice from IT, who told them that, in order to make this a safe and sustainable type of resource, we would have to get an outside contractor who would be responsible for collecting all of the syllabi and maintaining and updating the syllabus database,” said Li.

The annual cost of maintaining the database with an outside contractor would total about $50,000.

“If we’re asking the university to devote $50,000 a year, we need to prove that someone’s going to use it,” said Li.

Because of this, the committee decided to create a lean mock-up of the syllabus database, which would be used to measure general student interest in the resource.

The committee encouraged its members and other students to send in their class syllabi, which would be virtually filed away. These are the syllabi currently available on USG’s website.

“The [folder] we’re compiling right now isn’t the end product,” said Li. “Whatever we’re uploading now is just really for attracting more students to come use it, and also for the general use of everyone who’s using [the database] right now.”

As of Nov. 17, the academic affairs webpage received just over 450 hits.

“In that regard, 450 students is a significant number,” said Li. “But we still need to analyze that data and present it back to FSCUE to see what they think about it.”

“Hopefully, in the future, when we find funding, or somehow convince the administrators that this is a valuable resource, we’re hoping to have the course syllabus database incorporated into SIS in the way course evaluations are,” said Li.