June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.376.1 - 14.376.18
CPAS: On the Structure and Usability of a Course Planning and Audit System
We present CPAS, a system that allows students and their advisors to track progress in an academic program. Our design is able to perform a semi-automatic audit of degree requirements; the only human-approved components are ones that require discretion.
The underlying mechanism is based on robust propositional logic with extensions that make the entry, interpretation, and audit of complex degree requirements straightforward. The system also includes support for human-approved requirements due to the natural discretion that must be applied when evaluating certain requirements, such as multiple courses with a “cohesive theme”.
Additionally, we demonstrate an implementation, which focuses on providing a clear, straightforward interface for all users while maintaining the appropriate level of security and privacy. To the best of our knowledge, CPAS is the ﬁrst degree audit system that was designed with a web-based, graphical interface from the start. CPAS indicates in simple terms how a student is progressing in the degree and allows students to explore other academic programs offered at their university.
We also address several key software engineering research questions, such as the storage of complex major requirements and the design of lucid user interfaces for a variety of users. Considering the number of academic institutions and the variety of academic programs offered, quantifying and collecting correct expressions for major requirements in our system is a nontrivial problem. We explore the possibility of using a collaborative social network, with appropriate security and quality controls, for this purpose. We show how CPAS was used to enter the major requirements of complete academic programs and present a visualization functionality that illustrates such programs.
CPAS is a fundamental contribution to education research since it provides a way for academic programs to be mapped out in a generalized ontology. Thus, it allows students to maximally utilize the academic resources of their university, and it allows faculty members and departments to plan and represent programs and to advise students effectively.
Traditionally, course selection and degree audits at Cornell and many other higher education institutions have been performed with paper and pencil tools or individually designed spreadsheets used by both students and departments. A fully automated solution is impossible, since some requirements need approval of the advisor or involve vague guidelines only, for example, that two courses must be “in related disciplines”. Our Course Planning and Audit System (CPAS) integrates automatically auditable requirements with those that must be manually approved in a straightforward way using a simple, well-designed web-based interface. CPAS allows degree requirements to be easily speciﬁed by department staff in a very general way. It was used in a prototype system to deﬁne the computer science degree requirements in the Engineering and Arts & Sciences colleges at Cornell and several majors at other universities.
Rusak, T., & Barnes, C., & Russ, G. S., & Kam, V., & Gries, D. (2009, June), Cpas: On The Structure And Usability Of A Course Planning And Audit System Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5866
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