The thought is, we could send out surveys and ask people to let us know what days and times would be good for them… And then try to fit that to a schedule of classes… And then beg those people to sign up for classes… And then see if the classes will fill up… Or we can try something radically different.
Natural Selection for College Courses
What I saw at my Almost Alma Mater, Clemson University, was a classic over-subscription model at play. The department would open up many sections of a class, many more than they could possibly staff, and see who signed up for what. Sessions that had poor enrollment would get cut, and the students were notified of other open sessions they could attend. If an essential professor was only available on a certain schedule or for a certain number of sections, the schedule was whittled down even more, and the students were filtered into the optimal day and time schedule for the course. Next semester: same tactic. After several semesters, a pattern might emerge, but then again it might be cyclical. The departments would stick to the tactics that worked.
Of course, there are the occasional “I can only take this class on this day at this time” crises, and these burdens were usually shouldered by the advising staff. And there’s always the possibility that it will backfire and actually generate an over-subscribed population. This usually also falls back onto the advising staff and somewhat onto the professors to train TAs to run the excess classes.
So what’s your problem?
This semester, Spring 2014, was actually worse, but the enrollment for the intro classes have been steady at ~6 people per semester for 4 semesters running. That means there are at least 20 eligible students per track, yet we’ve only seen a handful of signups for the advanced classes.
So we’re trying this new tactic in Summer and Fall 2014. If it works, we’ll continue moving forward. We also know that part of the problem is just lazy marketing. We need to get accurate information about the classes into the hands of people who might care in time for them to act. Working on it. However, it also seems that getting the right combination of day and time is a big factor.
Taking one for the team…
Our program needs to grow if it’s going to survive, and I’m willing to do a little growth hacking to give it a shot. Help me spread the word, and if you’re interested in learning about AngularJS, Laravel, and other in classroom setting start the process!