The winter months presented some challenges to the uAchieve 5.0 Planner development team. After getting “the basics” of an auto-generated plan working, we spent late fall and winter focusing on “the details” that make an academic plan usable. A few of the issues we encountered are:
- OR’d requirements and sub-requirements
- When and how should the student be presented with a choice?
- When and how should the student be able to reverse a decision on which (sub) requirement is being pursued?
- Categories of requirements that must be met to graduate but are not necessarily planned from (we refer to these as Side Quests)
- Minimum GPA (Cumulative, Major, Minor, etc.)
- Minimum Credit (Cumulative, Major, Minor, etc.)
- Residency (University, College, Major, etc.)
- Limit Ceilings
- Transfer Credit, Pass/Fail, Independent Study, Repeats, etc.
- Course Availability: We can prevent a course from being placed in a term if availability is known.
- How far in advance is availability known?
- Are “typically offered” terms known?
- Do we enforce “typically offered” course placement (beyond known terms) or allow students to place courses in any term?
Feedback from beta participants has been invaluable in breaking through these challenges. We started a monthly meeting with all participating institutions to provide updates on our progress and gather feedback on open development questions. The variability of the participants’ location, size, policies, organization, degree program offerings, student systems, and other factors provides the breadth of experience and requirements that we need to build the best possible planner. As expected, we often get different answers to these challenges, which requires us to design a flexible solution.
In addition to resolving these challenges, we are reviewing details of automatically-generated plans with one of our beta institutions, poring over each plan looking for anomalies or quirks in the placement of courses. As expected, a few minor adjustments to the algorithm needed to be made, and those updates are nearly done. The biggest takeaway from this review is that our vision and design for auto-generated plans are holding up to scrutiny. After another round (or two?) with this institution, we will expand detailed plan reviews with other beta clients.
Progress this winter has been methodical. By testing with real encoding data provided by our beta participants, we were presented with some challenges that we did not originally anticipate.
Feedback from beta meetings has allowed us to develop a planner solution that will benefit all current and future uAchieve clients. We are more confident than ever that we can automatically generate plans from existing degree audit encoding that make sense and graduate students on time. Additionally, we are committed to demonstrating a working version of uAchieve 5.0 Planner at this year’s CollegeSource Annual Conference and look forward to sharing more this summer.
For more information, view past articles related to uAchieve 5.0.