New Course Numbering System To Be Implemented Next Summer
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 01:10
Beginning with course registration for the Summer 2014 term and the 2014-15 academic year, Boston College will transition to a new system of course numbering and catalog management, having outgrown the current UIS numbering system.
A curriculum management advisory committee has recently worked to implement a new system that would more accurately reflect course levels and allow for increased standardization among numbers for language and common core courses. Looking to institutions like Harvard as models, the committee determined that the Kuali catalog management system would fulfill these goals.
Presently, the UIS system includes a two-letter prefix that indicates the department in which a course is housed, followed by a three-digit number from 001-999. The Kuali system involves four-letter subject codes followed by a four-digit number from 1000-9999.
Many of the new subject codes are simply expansions of the current prefix, such as COMM for communication instead of CO. For other departments, the new lettering allows for more specificity about a course. Many classes in the romance languages department, for example, will now be more precisely labeled SPAN for Spanish, FREN for French, and ITAL for Italian. Journalism courses, rather than falling under the general university department (UN) will now be indicated with the prefix JOUR.
With regard to the course number, classes will be more clearly sequenced, as each range of numbers will correspond with a level of difficulty. Courses with numbers from 1000-1999 will be core courses as well as lower-level undergraduate electives and elementary language courses, whereas numbers ranging from 3000-4999 will indicate upper-level major courses, upper-level electives, third and fourth year language courses, and advanced seminars and independent research.
In some cases, the current UIS number reflects the course’s level of difficulty or preparedness required. With growing limitations on available numbers, though, many departments have been forced to give illogical numbers to new courses. Numbers representing courses that have been retired for at least five years can be reused, however, the number from a retired course may not necessarily correspond to the difficulty of the new course to which it is being assigned.
“Often we would have a new course come up, and had to use whatever number was available, even if it seemed too low or too high,” said Treseanne Ainsworth, assistant to the chair of the English department and director of undergraduate advising, in an email. “We just had to tell students not to go by the course numbers as an indication of ‘level.’”
Ainsworth added that, while the new system does provide more flexibility in assigning numbers to new classes, the department will not be starting completely from scratch.
“We kept many of our existing, familiar course numbers for convenience, such as Studies in Poetry, which was EN131, [and] will be ENGL1131,” she said. “We do hope this will make registration and planning easier for students, though their best bet is still to discuss course selections with their advisors, and read the course descriptions.”
As far as what students should expect when registering for courses under the new system, the process itself, using the UIS registration system, will look the same. Some improvements will be found, though, in sections of the Agora portal, according to Louise Lonabocker, executive director of Student Services, and Linda McCarthy, technology director for student and academic application services for Information Technology Services.
“You’ll see a much improved course information and schedule when you go to search for courses,” Lonabocker said. Searching for courses will be more comparable to doing a search on Amazon.com, she said, with students being able to narrow their searches with key terms and particular days and times.
McCarthy said that there will be a crosswalk available as a searchable PDF document online that will provide the old and new course numbers to ease the transition. She also explained that the UIS registration system, in its entirety, is not scheduled to be phased out until 2018.
Students should be aware, Lonabocker said, that the University does not change academic history, therefore degree audits and transcripts will show the old course numbers for classes already taken under the UIS numbering system, and new course numbers for classes taken once the new system is implemented.