JoAnn Jack, registrar of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, announced in an Oct. 31 email to students that the first phase of the new academic advising tool and degree audit system is now available for students and advisors on SIS.
Students can access the new degree audit system under the “Academic – Student Degree Audit” tab on SIS. Clicking on the “Student Degree Audit” tab leads to a login page. After logging in, students can look at audit options, submit a comment and check exceptions to requirements and sub-requirements.
According to the email, phase one of the academic audit system has encoded general requirements for all undergraduate students and major requirements for engineering students. Phase two of the system will include major and minor requirements for students in the School of Arts and Sciences. Jack said that phase two will include planners, notifications to students and advisors and registration from the degree audit system. Jack said that her office hopes to release phase two of the system in fall 2019.
According to Jack, the old degree audit system was taken down due to the change in credit system, with the adoption of semester-hour units (SHU). Jack said that feedback on the old system was not positive, and as a result, the registrar made a change.
Tricia Sheehan, the project manager of the new degree audit system, said that the vendor of the new system is CollegeSource. Tufts purchased the application from CollegeSource and encoded its degree requirements into the application, Sheehan said.
According to Jack, the registrar has worked closely with the School of Engineering when preparing phase one of the new degree audit system, which focused primarily on engineering degree requirements.
Sergio Fantini, a professor in the biomedical engineering department, said that the registrar has requested information from the Outcome and Assessment Committee (OAC), which consists of faculty members in the School of Engineering. Fantini, a member of the OAC, said that the committee provided the registrar with information about degree requirements. The registrar also presented the OAC with a working sample of the new degree audit system before its official rollout to solicit feedback and make adjustments, according to Fantini.
David Pearl, a junior double majoring in science, technology, and society as well as anthropology and minoring in entrepreneurship, said the new system does not support double majors or minors. For Pearl, the new degree audit page only displayed his first major under the “Run Declared Program” section. Pearl also said that he had heard from other students that the new degree audit system counted some requirements incorrectly.
“Why not just wait and release it all at once? … It’s not effective for most people unless it has the major requirements [for Arts and Sciences degrees],” Pearl said. “There’s already a distribution requirement sheet that’s one page.”
Charlotte Warne, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said the tool is useful in tracking Advanced Placement credits, course selections and course planning. Warne said that the new degree audit system is a “comforting confirmation” as it shows the requirements yet to be fulfilled for graduation.
“It’s just very comprehensive and simple to understand,” Warne said. “They don’t add stuff that you don’t need to know about … I would say that simplicity is the best feature [of the new degree audit system],”
Warne appreciated the prioritization of engineering students in developing the system, but noted that the system in its full rollout would be useful for students pursuing multiple majors and minors.
“It is especially difficult for engineers to keep track of all their requirements since there’s so many so it’s been really helpful on that aspect, but I am sure people [in the School of Arts and Sciences], especially with double majors or minors, where you try to keep track of everything, it could be really helpful,” Warne said.
According to Jack, since engineering degrees are accredited by both the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and the university’s accrediting body, the New England Commission of Higher Education, they have more restrictions than liberal arts counterparts. Jack said that this means that engineering majors have a more streamlined course selections, which the registrar was able to encode. She said that for liberal arts majors the general requirements are more complicated and the registrar “felt it was important to get a tool out to all students as soon as we possibly could.”
Jack said that the registrar will be soliciting feedback from students, faculty and staff. Jack added that since the rollout the registrar has been able to “make the necessary tweaks based on student and advisor feedback” and that the overall feedback was “very positive.”