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A new planning tool will be available to ASU students next fall when class syllabi are incorporated into the online registration process for spring 2012 courses.

During registration, students will be able to view recent syllabi for classes they are considering before enrolling, allowing them to make decisions based on course load and personal interests.

The University Technology Office is still working on the best way to implement the program from a technology standpoint, but students can expect to see the program up and running next semester.

The idea came from the Undergraduate Student Government Policy Department when students voiced concerns about not knowing what classes entailed until the first week of the semester.

“I’ve spoken with countless students who have felt blindsided by their first week of classes and as a result, have had to make additional advising appointments, withdraw out of specific classes, and navigate the endless paper trail of making formal class changes,” said Michael Wong, USG’s vice president of policy.

Syllabus disclosure would give students a variety of information before the semester starts, Wong said.

“This would allow students the opportunity to see what each class entails in selected readings and activities, make smart decisions about time commitments based on course load, and find out whether or not they will be using the plus-minus system or standard grading, all before the first day of classes,” he said.

Assistant Vice Provost for University Academic Success Programs Duane Roen said it will benefit students to know a little bit more about the classes they are signing up for, particularly optional classes.

“In the case of a required course, it might not be quite as helpful as it will be for elective courses,” Roen said. “For elective courses, there are some choices, and by seeing a syllabus students can say ‘This ties into my interests a bit more than the other one, so I’ll take this.’”

Mechanical engineering senior Jared Robinovitz said he has dropped several classes during the first week of the semester for various reasons, including a partial lack of interest.

Last semester, Robinovitz dropped MUS 354 — Special Topic: Hip-Hop — during the first week of classes after looking at the syllabus.

“It was just a lecture class, general studies, online,” Robinovitz said. “I was looking for something on the easier side, and after looking at the syllabus, it was lot more work than anticipated and overloaded my workload. I decided it was way too much for what I needed and conflicted with other classes.”

Wong said the new system will help students avoid situations like this in the future, and it will reduce the chaos of the first week of classes.

Robinovitz agreed, saying he thinks the system will be an effective planning tool for students.

“Students will especially appreciate being able to compare schedules [between classes] to see if their schedule is going to get really hectic with a lot of group projects at the same time, or anything like that,” he said.

Syllabus disclosure will be optional for faculty, but Roen said he expects many to participate.

“We’re going to make sure faculty knows it’s available once the mechanisms are in place, and we hope that students will encourage faculty to participate,” Roen said. “We will do everything we can to encourage them, but ultimately that faculty member will decide whether to do this.”

Roen, who teaches two courses, said participating could potentially benefit faculty as well.

“Faculty always appreciate having students who are eager to be in a course, so if this will help students be a little more eager about being in a course, that will benefit everybody,” he said. “When I put myself in that position [as a student], I’m going to be happily involved and invested in that course, and I’m going to learn better, and I think teachers are going to appreciate that as well.”

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