The process of scheduling individual students to classes is often treated like a holiday sale at a department store.
Classes are put on display and students queue up to get a popular course or a particular class section offered at a favored time.
While this is an easy and wellunderstood process, it is often difficult for students who are not early in the queue to find workable
combinations of classes needed to graduate or make progress on their degree requirements.
The student scheduling process is essentially that of matching the sets of classes required by each student to the available class spaces
so that all (or as many as possible) of the students educational requirements are met. There may also be individual student class time
preferences which complicate the problem. The most direct approach to making sure every student is able to attend all of their needed
courses is to construct the class timetable after collecting all student course requirements. UniTime can be used to construct such a demandbased
timetable and optimize the number of students who receive the needed courses. Often this is not practical, however; so it is desirable to meet as
many student needs as possible with an existing timetable.
When scheduling individual students to a preexisting timetable in real time, the primary difficulty is ensuring that choices made by the first
students in the process do not unnecessarily preclude later students from attending all of their required courses. This is only an issue when
multiple sections of courses are offered at different times. If all courses are offered at only one time and students are unable to attend the
courses they need then you need a better course timetable.
Using knowledge based on curricular course requirements or historical course requests and the existing timetable, UniTime is able to determine the
expected need for individual course sections. If the expected need for an individual class section is greater than the number of student spaces
available, these spaces will be held for students who require that class to build a conflict free schedule. This does restrict the class time
choices of some students, but only as much as is necessary to allow later student to obtain all of their required classes. Since this is a stochastic
process, it is not possible to guarantee all conflicts will be resolved, but tests based on actual student requests show significant reductions in
unmet course needs.
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