Class Scheduling

The Office of the Registrar Academic & Classroom Scheduling works closely with the school and departmental schedule deputies to coordinate the scheduling of classes. The resulting schedule is an important tool in meeting students' curricular needs.

If a department decides to cancel a section because of insufficient enrollment or for other administrative reasons, the schedule deputy for that department must notify the Office of the Registrar Academic & Classroom Scheduling. It is the departmental schedule deputy's responsibility to advise each student enrolled in that section to initiate asection change for the course. If there is no other section for that course, the student must officially drop the course. In all cases, students still enrolled in a cancelled section the first Monday after the cancel was initiated will be dropped from the section by the Office of the Registrar.

Changes to the official schedule of classes for a given session shall be modified only by joint action of the department head, departmental schedule deputy, and the Office of the Registrar Academic & Classroom Scheduling. An instructor shall not make an unauthorized change in the time and place of a scheduled course.

For all disabled students needing proper scheduling, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students, who will help you with the accommodations that are needed, or go to the Disability Resource Center Web site.

Academic Class Schedule at Purdue

Purdue operates with a 55-hour academic week.  Classes are offered Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday), plus Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.  The 10-hour day has been in place since the 1962-63 school year.  As good stewards of precious resources, the university long ago recognized the need for order in the house.  Born out of necessity, the use of standard start and stop times provide the framework for Purdue to assist its students to make progress towards degree, unimpeded by poor schedule construction based on personal preferences or a shot-in the-dark approach to actual student course needs.  

The primary goal of academic scheduling is to develop class times that maximize the chance for students to develop workable schedules in order to make progress towards degree.  Academic scheduling encompasses courses, staff, and facilities.  Following standard scheduling patterns is the cornerstone to this process.  Meshing start and stop times allows students to build a schedule with maximum course selectivity.   Another key component is “spreading” courses out during the day, rather than queuing at the popular hours.  By spreading course offerings throughout the day, students are better served with more choices, and the university, as a by-product, optimizes the amount of teaching space and staff resources needed to meet the academic mission.  Providing superior course selectivity for students, which has its own benefits, and is of utmost importance, has the natural by-product of decreasing the need to build additional spaces and freeing up space for other university needs.  The fact that Purdue has very good space utilization is a serendipitous result of its approach to developing class schedules for the benefit of its students.

Achieving the best distribution of course offerings, with the subsequent effective use of instructional spaces, begins with central development of the schedule for the limited resources classified as large lecture room and collaborative classrooms, aka Active Learning Rooms.  Those schedules are developed first, with the subsequent construction of the departmental schedules, encompassing the smaller general purpose classrooms and departmental teaching spaces.  Each of these processes is described below.

Large Lecture Room Assignment

Large Lectures are defined as classes of 60 or more students.  Due to the major influence that these courses have on the master schedule and also because of the limited availability of large lecture facilities, these classes are coordinated and established by the Office of the Registrar.  The Office of the Registrar recognizes that single section courses have less scheduling flexibility than multi-section courses.  When building the large lecture schedule for a term, a sophisticated software program is used to facilitate data entry by the different departments across campus.  Departmental schedule deputies enter their requests into the software, including preferred time, location, size needed, meetings per week, equipment needs, and length of meetings (3 meetings per week for 50 minutes each; or 2 meetings per week for 75 minutes each, etc.).  The data entry process also allows for requestors to include narrative to help explain their particular needs.  This software also tracks joint student course enrollment information from the previous-like term to aid in the development of all schedules, including the large lecture schedule, so that schedules are developed that minimize course conflicts for students, and thus aid in their ability to build workable schedules in order to continue to make progress towards degree.

Collaborative/Active Learn Room Assignment

Over the last several years, the emergence of the IMPACT program, and the accompanying facilities needed to meet the pedagogy of both courses in the IMPACT program, as well as other courses which desire to move into the active learning style room, has begun to change the face of master schedule building.  The facilities used by active learning courses are far different in nature than a traditional large lecture room or general purpose classroom, and have just as much need to be managed as a scarce resource to ensure that the needs of the many are met in as fair and equitable manner as possible.  The same request process and software used for the development of the large lecture room schedule for a term is also employed for the assignment of time and location for these active learning classes.

Just like the central scheduling of large lecture rooms, central scheduling of the Collaborate/Active Learning facilities promotes equitable and efficient sharing of these limited resources.

General Comments About Assignment of Specialized Spaces

It is imperative to note that the process for developing the schedules for these specialized spaces, both large lecture and collab learn, occur in a very tight timeframe – three weeks from the start of the data entry process to the assignment of classes to time and the distribution of those assignments to the departments.  During the data entry process, there is an on-going clarification of needs, with much back and forth between registrar personnel and the departmental schedule deputies, prior to the use of the computer software to assign the requests.  With the increase in the collaborative/active learn spaces, the individuals with extensive knowledge of these types of spaces will be given access to the data entry system so that those special needs are understood and accurately reflected in the data entry items.

General Purpose Classroom Allocation

The allocation of classrooms is an important element in developing a schedule of classes which will provide maximum student course selectivity.  Course selectivity can be best achieved when course time patterns are distributed as broadly as possible over the operating week.  Strategic assignment of classroom resources encourages this kind of distribution.

The classroom assignment process begins by making a projection of each department's need for general purpose classrooms for the coming semester based in part on an analysis of the use made of these facilities in the last-like semester.  Each department is then allocated a number of general purpose classrooms by the Office of the Registrar to use for building the department's schedule.  One classroom is assigned for each 45 daytime room-hours of anticipated instruction in classrooms other than large lecture rooms and collaborative/active learn rooms.

As of fall 2015, there are 275 general purpose classrooms (the same number as in 1996), 52 of which are scheduled as large lecture rooms).  The number of remaining rooms available for assignment varies slightly from semester to semester as some are always undergoing renovation and a varying few are usually held in reserve in order to accommodate last-minute changes.  Assignment of the available rooms to the departments is made in accordance with the projected need taking the following factors in consideration:

  • Size
  • Location
  • Type of seating
  • Special equipment - which can cover those small general purpose classrooms with collab/active learning equipment

Obviously, a perfect fit for each class is impossible, and many hard choices must be made.  All courses should be scheduled within the times available, using the standard operating times in the assigned rooms.  Departmental schedule deputies use the same software used by the large lecture room and collaborative learn processes to aid them in the development of schedules that minimize course conflicts for students, based on historical course interaction.  The important role of the departmental schedule deputy cannot be overstressed.  They are relied upon to represent their department in the building and maintenance of the master schedule of classes each term.  As such, it is important that they have the support of their departmental administration when faced with making timely and informed decisions regarding course offerings.

As noted earlier, the purpose of this process is to insure that classes will be distributed as much as possible over the week so that a maximum number of courses will be available to each student.  Queueing at the popular hours should be avoided.  Another way of looking at the classroom assignment procedure is to view the number of classrooms as a number of time slots, i.e., if a department is assigned five classrooms, it may schedule at most five MWF 10:30 classes, five TTh 12:00-1:15 pm classes, etc.

After departments have submitted their timetabled schedules to the Office of the Registrar, all general purpose classrooms revert to central control.

General Purpose Computer Lab Assignment

Schedules for these special rooms are developed after the departmental schedules have been completed, and follow the same process as described above in the Large Lecture and Collaborative Learn room assignment process.

Selection of Class Times

The Academic Week

Class scheduling is done within a 55-hour week.  In general, classes begin at 7:30 am Monday through Saturday, continue through the noon hours, and end at 5:20 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.

Approved Time Sequences

The following time sequences are to be used in planning the Schedule of Classes.  Requests for exceptions must be approved by the Dean and the Provost and require a letter submitted via the Office of the Registrar at schedule planning time each semester, indicating the need.

Approved Time Sequences

Requesting Evening Courses

As a matter of policy, 500-level and below courses are scheduled within the 55-hour week noted above.  Exceptions must be approved by the Dean and the Provost and require a letter submitted via the Office of the Registrar at scheduling planning each semester.

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