Course and Room Scheduling in Fall and Spring Semesters
Instructional space is a resource of the Institute. As such, it must be managed efficiently and consistently to ensure maximum benefit for all academic units on campus. It is our goal to ensure that all instructional faculty are provided with classroom facilities that meet their pedagogical needs. Preferences will be accommodated whenever and wherever possible. The Guiding Principles for Classroom and Academic Scheduling will be used to inform decisions about classroom scheduling.
This policy repeals the 2013 and earlier policy statements that allowed for scheduling outside the official Standard Class Meeting Times (“the daily schedule grid”). Under that policy, academic units could “pair up” with other units to schedule classes at irregular times to best utilize classroom resources. This is no longer allowed because it enables non-compliance with the official Standard Class Meeting Times.
Our current fall and spring calendar is a semester calendar with 15 weeks of instruction, in which 50 minutes of class attendance are considered one contact hour. The working unit of academic credit is defined as follows:
- One unit of credit represents how much time a typical student is expected to devote to learning per week of study. Each course is evaluated by a system of credits related to time spent in class, lab, research, or field study. One semester credit is expected to require at least three hours of scholarly activity per week.
- For lecture-based course work, one 50-minute hour of class attendance is scheduled for each credit awarded, but any combination of class attendance, lab, research, or field study experience may be arranged.
- Additional time is expected out-of-class for preparation and homework. The amount of time that students should expect to spend out-of-class on homework and other assignments should be commensurate with the credit hours granted for the course. For example, a three (3) credit lecture-based class requires nine (9) hours of scholarly activity per week which, considering three (3) hours of lecture per week, indicates a requirement for an additional six (6) hours of scholarly activity in the form of homework assignments, project assignments, guided study and self-guided study of the course materials.
- Studio and laboratory classes earn one (1) credit per three (3) hours of attendance in formal instructional studio or laboratory sessions.
- Exceptions to this policy for undergraduate courses must be approved by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Exceptions for graduate courses must be approved by the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee.
For each credit hour in the 15-week semester, we currently average 750 minutes of class attendance. This is consistent with University System of Georgia and Institute policies that state one credit hour equates to 50 lecture minutes per week for 15 weeks and scales linearly. Thus, most 3-hour classes are scheduled in one of the following formats:
- Classes meet three times per week for 50-minute periods, for a total of 2250 minutes (3x50x15); or
- Classes meet two times per week for 75-minute periods, for a total of 2250 minutes (2x75x15).
Course and Room Scheduling Policy
The following class scheduling protocols are intended to ensure (a) courses are scheduled for sufficient meeting times to account for the credit assigned to the course, (b) effective and efficient use of instructional space, and (c) consistent policies that ensure all academic units have fair access to instructional spaces.
To be effective, it is critical that the standard schedule grid must be followed by the academic units when scheduling their courses. Exceptions, regardless of how well-intentioned, have the potential to reduce room utilization efficiency, increase room schedule conflicts, and reduce course and schedule opportunities for students. Effective utilization of instructional spaces and ensuring that students have as few complications as possible to create a semester schedule are the highest priorities in this process.
General Guidelines and Procedures
The following policies apply to the scheduling of all courses, unless an exception has been requested and approved as defined below:
- All courses MUST be scheduled in accordance with the Standard Class Meeting Times defined below.
- The scheduling grid applies to all spaces that are scheduled for instruction, whether rooms are maintained centrally or departmentally.
- The amount of time scheduled for a class must be consistent with the official course description (e.g., a 3-0-3 course must be scheduled for “3 hours” or 150 minutes of lecture time).
- A course with more than one hour of lecture per week may not be scheduled for only one day per week, except within the Friday Flexible Block (defined below).
In deciding whether or not to request an exception for a specific course, the academic unit should consider the following guidelines:
- Exceptions may be ongoing, based on unique requirements or scheduling needs of a degree program, or may be granted for a single course offering. Approval for a single term does not imply future approval for an ongoing exception.
- All requests for exceptions must be submitted in writing to the Registrar for vetting based on parameters set forth by the Provost’s Committee on Classroom and Academic Scheduling (PCAS). The PCAS may also act as an appellate group.
- There must be an academic reason stated for the request. Preference of the instructor or preference for one classroom over another will not be considered valid reasons for the request. Specific information on the pedagogical needs for the request, as well as the implications for students’ overall class scheduling and degree progression, will be requested as part of this process.
- Exceptions based on scheduling considerations require compelling justification; e.g., courses broadcast live between Georgia Tech and another institution or limited availability of a non-GT instructor.
- Requests for one-day schedules for courses with more than one lecture hour require compelling justification; e.g., off-campus travel during the lecture period. Instructor preference will not be considered as a justification. All such courses must be scheduled with a starting time of 3:00 pm or later. (This requirement includes one-day-per-week evening courses. For efficiency, programs with regular evening programs are encouraged to request ongoing exceptions that cover all courses normally offered in those programs.)
- The request for an exception must be approved prior to the start of registration for the affected course(s) prior to publication of the Schedule of Classes for that term.
- No request will be approved after registration has started.
- No changes to the times/days of the week when a class meets will be made after students are registered in the class, unless there is an emergency.
Process for Requesting an Exception
In the limited instances in which an exception may be warranted for a course meeting outside the Standard Class Meeting Times, or meeting for fewer hours/minutes per week than the policy states, the following actions must be taken by the academic unit:
- Requests for an exception must be submitted via a form available on the Registrar’s website at: http://registrar.gatech.edu/files/exception-request-for-off-grid-class-schedule-and-final-examination.pdf.
- The form must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office at least 5 working days prior to the publication date of the Schedule of Classes for that term.
- An emergency situation, for example, if an instructor has to be replaced and therefore the date and/or time of the class has to be changed, would still require the submission of the form.
Acting under the delegated authority of the PCAS, the Registrar will run reports from Banner to determine if any courses are listed in non-standard meeting times.
If a non-standard time for a class (or section of a class) is discovered prior to the “go live” date for the Schedule of Classes for each term, and there has been no request for an exception, the School Chair will be notified. The School will have the option to either submit a request for an exception or change the meeting times/days of the class/section to meet the standard grid. The request must be made 5 business days prior to the go-live date or there is no guarantee that it will be reviewed.
If a non-standard time for a class (or section of a class) is discovered after the “go live” date for the Schedule of Classes for each term, and there has been no request for an exception, the School Chair will be notified. The School, having missed the opportunity to request an exception, must change the meeting times/days of the class/section to comply with the standard grid.
The Registrar’s Office will continue to monitor the schedule until Phase II registration has closed to ensure that no changes are made without prior approval if they are scheduled outside the Standard Class Meeting Times. Any course/section that is scheduled outside the standard grid must have been approved as an exception to remain in that meeting day/time.