Inside Higher Ed :: Don’t Forget the Registrar

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The role of the registrar in academic innovation

The registrar has, in fact, a major role to play in four of the most basic academic initiatives found on many campuses:

  • Redesigning and improving the quality of courses and curricula.
  • Enhancing the processes of course management and delivery to create more options and increased flexibility.
  • Translating academic policies into efficient and easily used procedures and refining campus-wide inter-departmental records management procedures accordingly.
  • Maintain official academic records and related processes in accord with state and federal privacy legislation while providing faculty and students with the information they require for quality advising and decision-making.

The common issues

When comprehensive course or curriculum redesign efforts get underway at either the graduate or undergraduate level a number of fundamental questions need to be addressed. Among them:

  • What were the assumptions being made by faculty about the students entering their courses and degree programs, and how accurate were the assumptions?
  • What knowledge and skills did students actually bring to particular classes or programs? (If students entered an introductory course with a wide range of knowledge and competencies, why should they all start at the same place? If students had advanced skills or knowledge, could they be exempted from certain units within a course or curriculum?)
  • Must all students move through a course or program at the same pace? If some students required more time to complete a unit, how could we handle grades at the end of the semester when the work was not yet complete? When students move at different rates, have different requirements based on prior knowledge and experience, and if work might carry over from semester to semester, how can we handle credits, grades, student charges and faculty loads not to mention various student-aid issues?

(For a more detailed list of common questions and how one campus, Syracuse University, developed systems to successfully address these issues, please see a “Case Study: Flexible Credit and Continuous Registration.”)