Contract and Employment Questions

Suggestion for how sections are filled...

I'm relatively new to BYU-Idaho and just completed my first semester, so perhaps this question has been posed and answered in the past. If so, please send me to that discussion and I'll jump in there!

I was curious as to how different sections of the same course are filled. I noticed that the other two instructors for my course have full classes, and mine is slowly filling (Winter 2017). I'm fairly certain this same order for section filling was done for this past semester as well (Fall 2016). Are all things considered equal for determining who's class gets filled first?

If everything is equal then it seems like it would make more sense to have students sign up for the course, then depending on the number of total students determine how many sections/teachers you need and divide the students up randomly. I don't have any data to back this up, but it seems like those students who sign-up early (and therefore fill up the first section) are more committed to sticking with the class. Those who sign-up last minute (and fill the last section) are maybe more likely to drop the course, or not be as invested. This seemed true for my course this last semester as the first section had the most students, the second section a little fewer, then the last section (mine in this instance) had the least (around 10 students fewer). If all of the sections had a closer number of total students then the teachers would have a more equal work load - again assuming we're getting paid the same amount for teaching the same course. The other teachers for my course had to do a lot more grading, but I had more time to make some resources to share - which worked out fine for me, but I don't know that it's really "fair" (to throw out a phrase from my 5 year old). 

In summary it seems like it would make more sense to make a good estimate for how many sections you'll need (and how many teachers), but then to not fill them until very close to the beginning of the semester so that all the sections have approximately the same number of randomly assigned students (not in order of how they signed up). 

Then again, maybe there's a reason for why it is the way it is... which I'd be curious to understand.

Thanks for listening!

Sister Katie Groneman

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Replies

  • Katie, you present a great perspective. My understanding of the registration process stems from my 8 years in the BYU-Idaho Student Records and Registration Office. To my knowledge, the current registration process/philosophy stems from a long campus tradition of wanting to maximize a student's flexibility surrounding their schedule (course, time, teacher, building, etc.) Online sections of a course are not influenced by a student's desire to be in a certain building at a certain time. However, online sections of a course still include a unique instructor assigned to them which is an option that would no longer be available to students if we were to adopt the idea you present above. I could be wrong, but allowing a student to select their preferred online instructor seems to be important to students.

    Interestingly, however, Pathway students probably don't have the same desire to select a specific instructor that an online matriculated student might have. This seems like something the Pathway Administration may want to consider in the future. Pathway registration is handled in an entirely different student information system than the BYU-Idaho Online students.

    You also raise an interesting perspective that would need further research as to whether or not "last minute" registrants are less dedicated to the course work than early registrants. It certainly appears that anecdotally that has been your experience. 

    • My name is not listed as instructor - I do not think that names are listed so students don't get to choose instructor (from what I understand). You can check out my situation by searching for BIO 230 Human Biology. I believe the other instructor's names were not on there until their section was full, but I do not know for sure.

      Or maybe the reason why the other sections filled in quicker was because their names were listed, and since mine just said, "Staff" people would choose mine last. This course is new to being offered online as of Fall 2016, so maybe that has something to do with the order that we are listed and our sections filled.

      • That is a good question, I am not sure when names are populated. I will have to go back and check with Online Employment and Scheduling...

        • Instructor names are populated into the registration system from the beginning of registration for all sections that are "Level 1".  The exception to this is when there are new instructors planned for a section (we don't have all of their information), when we are still trying to finalize plans for a certain sections, or for sections that are Level 2 or 3 (we do hold off pushing the instructor information until we are sure that the section is going to carry).  

          • I thought the levels were determined by the number of students enrolled. Are they determined by something else? And it would seem that as instructors we are not equal then, or that we are not randomly assigned - all three of us are brand new this last semester. 

            I still think that having one giant section, then dividing it equally makes more sense and is fair. This current system doesn't seem fair unless there's some difference in how we are ranked as instructors. And if there is a ranking, then I can understand that, but I don't know what it is - I'd like some transparency there.

            • Yes, the sections are assigned according to a combination of both TGL scores and student scores.  We are actually very transparent about this.  The problem that we run into is that new instructors are always coming on, so it is hard to keep everyone informed.  This last summer, our Online Employment & Scheduling Director, Rob Stewart, explained this and a number of other items at the Online Instructor Conference.  Here is a copy of the URL that.  Rob does a great job explaining in this presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTqlpx6Pph8 

  • Katie--This makes good sense! I've noticed a similar pattern on occasion when I've taught two sections of the same course.  The lower numbered section had a full group of committed, hard-working students.  The higher numbered section (the later added section) had students with more of a "last minute" approach to their coursework and learning.  And, they were much more likely to not complete the course.

    • Alisha, This semester my two courses are just the opposite. My first course has had more drops (3) and the second none. The second course is very diligent and even has several non- U.S. students (it's an upper division writing class). This is the first semester I've taught two sections of this class, so I have no other experience to base it on.

      • Interesting! I mostly teach Pathway classes, so I wonder if that makes a difference?

    • Alisha - That is interesting since it was not a difference between instructors. Thanks for your input.

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