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U Arizona Rolls Out Student Academic Progress Tracking

Both current and prospective students at the University of Arizona will have access to a new service that allows up-to-date tracking of the academic progress of all students at the university and provides detailed information of what is involved in pursuing individual majors.

This system, designed in-house at UA, is delivering two Web-based services. One, Degree Tracker, works within the existing UAccess student portal and allows current students password-protected access to track their progress credit by credit.

The other service, Degree Search, is open to the public at large and allows prospective students and their families to aid in exploring more than 200 majors at the university.

The Degree Search service is already up and running, while a pilot launch of Degree Tracker will begin this month with a full launch set to take place over the course of the next academic year.

"There has not really been a transparency of curriculum out there," said Shelley McGrath, senior director for academic programs and transfer coordination in the UA Office of Academic Affairs. "So this is like having a personal GPS so students can track their way through."

Benefits of the Degree Tracker service include:

  • Active assistance for both students and faculty advisors to see which students need help;
  • Automatic alerts when students go off track for timely graduation;
  • Use of a shared database in common with the Degree Search service;
  • Adjustable preferences that can be tailored to allow for early graduation or taking time off;
  • Flagging of courses within a recommended sequence so students know to take a lecture and a lab course at the same time; and
  • Data for long-term planning for faculty and classroom needs for course offerings.

Team members Gail Burd, vice provost for academic affairs; Michele Norin, the university's chief information officer and executive director of University Information Technology Services, and Melissa Vito, vice president for student affairs, worked within PeopleSoft to come up with the needed logic, coding and algorithms to design the service based on the recommended course sequences for individual majors.

"This project while moving quickly has also had critical involvement from both advisers and students and reflects their input, "Vito said. "At the end of the day, we hope to build a tool that will positively impact the student academic experience leading to better retention and graduation rates."

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