The time for class registration has a habit of bringing students anxieties and difficulties, from trying to work out which classes to take to time conflicts and classes being full. Registration for the spring semester brought a different problem for some biology students, though, who could not register for some courses due to an error involving course prerequisites.
Dr. William Cody, associate professor and chair of the biology department, said, “Students trying to register for biology courses received an error message that they did not have the required prerequisites for the course. This happened for students that had the appropriate prerequisites for the class they were attempting to register for and for students attempting to register for courses with no prerequisite.”
John Hughes, a junior biology and nursing double major, was registering for physiology but was unable to because the system claimed he had not met certain prerequisites. “The process was frustrating because it added another thing to an already busy schedule,” Hughes said.
Dr. Deanna Soper-Pinkelman, assistant professor of biology, had several students experience registration issues for multiple classes such as Tropical Ecology and Ecopsychology, Underwater Exploration and Evolutionary Biology.
She noted that as registration was going on, she began receiving emails from students claiming they weren’t allowed to register for her courses because BannerWeb was saying that they had not taken General Biology when they had already done so. “Students had met them (the prerequisites), and still had trouble registering,” Soper-Pinkelman said.
Soper-Pinkelman mentioned that other professors had similar problems. “Dr. Cody sent out a message to all of us saying that there are actually multiple classes having similar issues,” Soper said. Students were advised to fill out forms with the Registrar’s office to manually register, as well as email the professors of classes they needed to take.
Blake Palmer, assistant vice president of information services, noted that this was a new issue on their end. “This was the first time we encountered this issue. Once we were notified of an issue, we were able to apply a fix to allow for correct prerequisite checking,” Palmer said.
Palmer is confident that this issue won’t come up again, though if it does, there are now plans in place to address it. “I do not anticipate this issue recurring — if the issue comes back up, then we know how to fix it in short order,” he said.
Soper-Pinkelman is also hopeful that the problem has been fully resolved. She explained that not only was it stressful for professors and students involved, but it also increased the already massive workload of the Registrar’s Office. “They were working a lot of very long hours trying to make sure everyone got into the classes they needed to,” Soper-Pinkelman said.
Marisa Darby, registrar, explained that the Office of the Registrar does not determine what prerequisites are placed on courses. That information comes from other faculty members and the Registrar’s office adds or deletes them as necessary.
“It is important to note, that while the Registrar’s Office manages the registration process, every aspect of what makes a successful registration does not lie solely in this office; it is a collaborative process with many other moving parts,” Darby explained.
The Registrar’s office, as well as the Information Technology Services respond to the issue promptly. “Once we were made aware of this issue, we worked in tandem with faculty to make adjustments, we processed overrides, and contacted IT for their assistance with ensuring the prerequisite checking process was working correctly. We do not anticipate this issue again,” Darby said.
Although hiccups in registration like this one are an inconvenience to students and faculty, they are also part of the process of improvement and expansion.
“Every semester, we all work to ensure the registration process is evolving. With that said, it will never be without its challenges; hence the term growing pains. However, I truly appreciate the communication from students and faculty about their concerns, and the patience you all grant us as we navigate and work to remove barriers. I am most grateful for our phenomenal IT department who is always willing to jump in and help rectify any issues that may occur,” Darby said.