SPIRE weathers major test
R. Buchholz, Chronicle staff
PIRE, the campus's new online registration tool,
had its first workout between Nov. 14 and Dec. 3 when nearly 15,500
undergraduates and more than 1,800 graduate students registered
for spring classes. The participation level of undergraduates in
pre-registration was consistent with that of recent years while
the number of graduate students choosing to pre-register rose 38
percent from last year.
course seats were filled during pre-registration, according to Associate
Chancellor for Information Technologies Rosio Alvarez. Roughly 1,400
course sections have been filled and another 200 classes have electronic
wait lists, said Elizabeth Pyle, registrar.
"The system was
effective ... in some clunky, if not perfect, way, but it's effective
because the faculty scheduled into SPIRE a sufficient number of
appropriate courses," said deputy provost John Cunningham.
"And that is always the key to a successful registration."
was successful in facilitating students' enrollment in courses,
we were interested in how students received the SPIRE system,"
"We are currently
conducting a lot of assessment activities to figure out how pre-registration
went," Pyle said. "[We] definitely feel there is a lot
of dust to settle in a process that involves 30,000 people."
A number of different assessments, including focus groups and surveys,
have been or will soon be undertaken to learn how staff, students
and faculty who are connected with the pre-registration process
perceived their experience, Pyle said.
will give us a lot clearer picture than we have right now of what
went wrong, what went right, and which areas we can best focus on
for improvement," she said.
Despite the transition
being a "somewhat painful process," students who had been
through the old registration system preferred SPIRE by a nearly
2 to1 margin, according to Pyle and Alvarez.
suggests that first-semester students had an easier time with SPIRE
than students who had been using the older pre-registration system,
Pyle said. More than 71 percent of first-year students found the
registration process to be "somewhat easy" or "very
easy" while just under 55 percent of their more senior colleagues
found it to be so.
According to Alvarez,
more than 46 percent of all students who provided feedback rated
SPIRE as "good" or "excellent" and only 15 percent
said they thought it was "poor."
Pyle said some
of the "pain" of using SPIRE was learning to use a new
"There were definitely
- with the new tool - learning-curve issues, as well as some aspects
of the tool that were found to be less convenient, initially confusing
at least, or long-term confusing," she said. Part of what she
hopes to learn from the assessments is where the points of difficulty
lie and how to "ease those issues" quickly.
Pyle said other stress
involved in using the system came from policy change. The Registrar's
Office switched from not enforcing enrollment limits in courses
during pre-registration in past semesters, to the new model of closing
sections when they are full and then offering wait lists.
list is a new aspect to the campus, so we're eagerly supporting
that and interested to see how it goes," Pyle said.