Take a number
Staff members in the Office of Facility Management and Scheduling had to rebuild the Class Schedule and related publications as a result of the course renumbering project and the implementation of SCT Banner. "We really need to thank the people in the colleges who provided all the data and reviewed it several times along the way," said assistant director Carol Malmgren, shown here with director Mark Netter.
Photo by Bill Wiegand
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A new course numbering system will take effect on the Urbana campus with the fall 2004 semester.
A seven-level system will replace the four-level numbering system currently used. Many other institutions use seven-level systems, including Urbana’s sister campus in Chicago.
Under the new system, course numbers at Urbana will range from 000 to 699 (see box). The 300-399 designation will delineate upper-division undergraduate courses, and the 400-level designation will comprise upper-division undergraduate courses that graduate students can also take for credit.
Under the four-level system, some upper-division undergraduate classes had 200-level designations while others had 300-level designations, a disparity that sometimes confused students as well as recruiters and officials at other universities.
UIC adopted a seven-level system in 1991 to help distinguish between lower-level and upper-level undergraduate courses as well as credit and non-credit courses, which will carry 000 designations in Urbana’s new system.
Over the years, as courses were approved and added, the limitations of the four-level system led to inconsistencies in course numbering.
In side-by-side comparisons of UIC and Urbana students’ transcripts, the four-level course numbers at Urbana were occasionally misinterpreted as indicating that Urbana students had taken lower-level classes than their peers who took similar courses but with higher course numbers at UIC, said David Ruzic, professor of nuclear engineering and materials science. Ruzic also chairs the faculty advisory committee on the UI Integrate project, an inter-campus committee that has represented faculty concerns throughout the implementation of the new system.
As courses were added through the years, some academic units ended up with a hodgepodge of course numbers, and the course-renumbering project offered the opportunity for them to organize courses in more systematic ways.
“As new courses were developed, students rightfully believed that the higher the number, the more difficult or advanced the course, but that didn’t always happen because maybe the right number and sequence wasn’t available,” said Kirby Barrick, associate dean of academic programs in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
“This really does give students an advantage by providing a more consistent, understandable transcript,” said assistant provost Keith Marshall, who coordinated the renumbering project with campus academic units and the Office of Facilities Management and Scheduling. Staff in facilities management and scheduling rebuilt the course catalog and produced a new version of the Timetable, which is called the Class Schedule in the new Self-Service system.
The Urbana Senate approved a proposal to revise the course-numbering system at its Oct. 21, 2001, meeting. However, for cost effectiveness, implementation of the new numbering system was scheduled to coincide with the implementation of UI2 Self-Service, the student registration module of SCT-Banner, which is being launched this month.
“We decided that while we were putting the new registration system up it was a golden opportunity to standardize data and refine the course-numbering system,” Marshall said.
Some units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were in danger of running out of course numbers under the four-digit system, said Luci Rich, senior assistant dean for student affairs.
ACES had begun re-examining curricula in all seven of its departments about four years ago, Barrick said, to establish consistent course definitions and numbers, a project that dovetailed with the campuswide renumbering project.
“It took quite a bit of time to get seven departments to all agree to the same kind of terminology and numbers, but we think it has been very helpful to the degree-audit system and then very helpful to students,” Barrick said.
As a result of academic units’ re-examining and consolidating their course rubrics, the number of courses offered on the Urbana campus decreased from 7,500 to 7,200, said Mark Netter, director of the Office of Facility Management and Scheduling.
Since April 2003, a Course Renumbering Crosswalk Table has been available to make all units aware of the new campus numbers and was especially important in revising course marketing materials and other campus documents, said Carol Malmgren, assistant director of the Office of Facility Management and Scheduling.
The table cross-references the old course numbers and course rubrics, called subjects in the new system, with their new counterparts. Users can search the online table by the old rubrics or the new subject names and by the old and new course numbers.
The crosswalk table, the Class Schedule and the revised Course Catalog and Programs of Study are all components of a package called the Course Information Suite.
Users were able to preview thenew numbering system and the Course Information Suite online the past couple of months. However, students who register for summer courses must use UI-Direct and the old course numbers, since the new system and numbers do not take effect until fall.
In addition, summer registration was pushed ahead a couple of weeks instead of occurring concurrently with fall registration to help users distinguish between the old and new systems. On April 5, students will begin registering for the fall term using the new course numbers and Self-Service.
The Degree Audit Reporting System, DARwin, also had to be revised to recognize the new course numbers and academic requirements. Students and advisers will be able to view that information online when the academic history portion of the student module goes live and the next batch processing run is made in DARwin during the fall term.
The transition to the new numbering and registration systems will cause some “hiccups along the way,” Netter said, “and it’s going to be a challenge, but in the long run I think the university will be better served.”
Also beginning in the fall, credit for graduate courses will be conferred in hours rather than graduate units. The graduate-unit system was “almost unique to Urbana” and few other universities were using it, Marshall said.
A guide to new course numbers
A seven-level course-numbering system will be implemented at the Urbana campus beginning with the fall 2004 semester. The Course Information Suite, which contains the Class Schedule, the Course Catalog, the Programs of Study and information about general-education requirements, is available on the Web at http://courses.uiuc.edu/cis/index.html.
000-099 Noncredit preparatory courses
100-199 Lower level undergraduate courses
200-299 Lower level undergraduate courses
300-399 Upper level undergraduate courses
400-499 Upper level undergraduate and graduate courses
500-599 Graduate courses
600-699 Professional courses
(law and veterinary medicine