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My thesis proposal
 

My thesis proposal

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This is my approved thesis proposal

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    My thesis proposal My thesis proposal Document Transcript

    • Indiana University South Bend College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Computer and Information Science Routing Slip Student: Truong Quoc Hung Degree: Master of Science Program: Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Thesis: IU Advise-A web based advising tool for academic advisors and students Dated: March 2, 2009 Hossein Hakimzadeh, Ph.D. Liguo Yu, Ph.D. Michael R Scheessele, Ph.D. Yu Song, Ph.D.
    • IU ADVISE-A WEB BASED ADVISING TOOL FOR ACADEMIC ADVISORS AND STUDENTS Truong Quoc Hung Abstract Academic advising is an important activity of an academic institution. It guides the students to explore the potential careers, academic disciplines and opportunities in the college environment. An accurate and full featured advising system can be an effective tool to both students and faculty advisors. The dynamic nature of academic programs, especially in regards to the changes in the general education and other degree requirements, poses a continuous challenge to faculty advisors to remain up-to-date. The goal of this thesis is to implement a web-based advising system which facilitates academic advisors in their efforts to providing quality, accurate and consistent advising services to their students. The proposed system will be implemented using a set of open source software packages to create a low cost, flexible, customizable, and consistent system.
    • Contents 1. Introduction 1 2. Literature Review 3 3. Proposed Solution 6 3.1. Data Model 6 3.2. Process Model 7 4. Requirements 9 5. Expected Outcome 10 5.1. Advisor User Interface 10 5.2. Student User Interface 10 6. Conclusion 12 Bibliography 13 ii DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 1. Introduction The main objective of academic advising is to guide, motivate and support students to explore their po- tientials and make precise academic choices in order to satisfy the students’ needs and comply with academic policies [1]. To achieve these objectives, IU South Bend employs the direct communication between advisors and students as the main advising system. Advisors are typically faculty or professional advisors employed by an academic unit. A normal advising session consists of meetings between an advisor and a student. On the basis of these meetings, the student makes decisions about class schedules, choosing an academic major or minor, planning for graduation and many other academic related activities. These important decisions are made based on the information about previously completed courses, degree requirements, academic poli- cies, and offered courses in the upcoming semester provided by advisors balanced against the student’s work schedule and other interests or commitments. The current academic advising system, however, has encountered some problems [2]. Among other issues, there are some noticable points. First, since the academic advisors are major and comprehensive resources for students to utilize, they need to spend time understanding and updating their knowledge about degree requirements and academic policies as well as familiarizing themselves with students’ progress toward aca- demic degrees prior to any advising period. This is a time-consuming task for any advisor especially when students far outnumber the advisors. Second, a faculty advisor may not keep up with new academic policies, new programs or new degree requirements as they may have several duties during a advising period adding to the difficulties in updating information. This situation can lead to inconsistent information among advisors. Third, most of the time, advisors answer recurrent questions about trivial class scheduling. In fact, these questions could be answered easily by students themselves, if useful information about class schedules and previously completed courses is available and easy to access. Accordingly, there should be a tool for helping students to take advantage of authorized part of academic information before coming to their advisors. Fi- nally, quite frequently, computer-literate students would like to have more electronic interaction for advising. This is an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration because the students are customers of the services both directly and indirectly [3]. Although there are some problems in the current advising system, faculty mentors or advisors cannot be replaced completely by a computer-based system. The reason is that the academic advising process requires the professional knowledge of academic disciplines to satisfy questions about a specific course structure, teaching methods, etc. Moreover, the students do not only come to the advisors’ offices for course selection, 1 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 1. INTRODUCTION 2 but also need recommendation while deciding their majors and careers. For these types of questions, an academic advisor with intensive and proficient knowledge about a specific field of study is the best source to provide valuable information that cannot be stored and interpreted from static data in a database. This thesis proposes to implement the IU-Advise system, which supports the following activities for an authenticated and authorized student or advisor: • View or print an unofficial transcript or degree audit that shows the progress toward a degree and identifies unmet requirements; • View or print students’ advising records; • Add or modify advising information; • View the degree requirements for a given program in a given academic year; • View what-if report which shows how previously completed courses fit into a new degree program; We hope that the proposed system will be a useful tool for both advisors and students and will facilitate the advising process. DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 2. Literature Review Many universities and colleges are applying computer technology to create useful tools or a complete system that improve the traditional academic advising system. There have been many levels and means for applying computer technology. The basic level is to develop a simple tool that can produce reports or cover a simple task of the advising process. The higher level is the complete software system that supports the complete advising process. For the basic level, one useful and common tool is a degree audit reporting system (DARS). DARS, which was developed by Miami University in 1985 [4], produces a degree audit which shows all the requirements of a specific academic degree, the courses that satisfy those requirements and the progress of a student toward the degree. This is a small and effective tool for both advisors and students in the advising process. DARS has been purchased and adapted by many academic institutions such as Ohio University [5], University of San Diego[6], University of Missouri - St. Louis [7] and etc. In the higher level, the AdvisorTrac of RedRock Software [8] is a commercial software that supports schedul- ing, reviewing, cancelling advising appointments, storing demographic records and keeping track of advising records. AdvisorTrac is currently being used by a number of universities, among of which are the University of Louisville[9], Western Kentucky University[10], Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne [11] and other colleges. At the software system level, redLatern, an auxilliary of Miami University [12], developed a commercial software solution based on the DARS for both students and advisors. The solution includes 3 components: u.select, u.direct, and u.achieve. This education software solution provides tools for most advising activities, such as planning courses, selecting courses, keeping track of grades, generating degree audits, and other common advising tasks with unified and consistent information throughout an academic institution. In addition to these specialized software solutions, most comprehensive administrative software systems such as PeopleSoft, SCT Banner and Oracle also have an academic advisement module. The current OneStart application portal of IU South Bend provides an access to Student Self Service. Student Self Service, based on PeopleSoft’s Human Resource Management System (HRMS) and Student Information System (SIS), provides two advising services: View My Advisors and View My Advisement Reports [13]. The View My Advisement Reports function allows student to view an degree audit with/without a unofficial transcript. It also produces a what-if report that shows how current enrolled courses can be applied to a new major when a student want to change his or her major. A course list what-if report of this service determines if a 3 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 4 selected course fits into any requirement of a given degree program. These two reports need to be polished and reorganized in order to provide more useful information than the current version. The View My Advisor offers a list of advisors of a given student and allows the student to notify one or many advisors. Figures 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 show some of current SIS reports. Figure 2.1. SIS introduction page Figure 2.2. Part of a SIS unofficial transcript page DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 5 Figure 2.3. Part of a SIS what-if report A commercial software package is not the only way to meet the needs of improving the quality of advising services. There are many computer software systems developed in - house. In 1999, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) started working on a project of a web-based advising system. This system is composed of three components [2]: • The FAQ component archives and presents most common questions that can be answered without intensive knowledge about policies, requirements and courses. • The Course component is used by advisors and administrators to maintain course information. • The Advising component captures all the information of the advising appointments between ad- visors and students. It then combines with the data in the database to produce a final result of advising. In the same manner, Indiana University: Indiana Student Information Transaction Environment [2, 14] - ISITE was developed and used in some Indiana University campuses before OneStart [2, 14] is employed. ISITE offers following features: • Producing an advising report for a student’s current major • Producing an advising report for a different major • Producing an advising report for a special purpose program • Viewing how in-progress courses apply to a student’s advising report • Adding future courses, grades, and hours to see how these changes would affect the advising report DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 3. Proposed Solution 3.1. Data Model Figure 3.1 shows the database structure for the proposed system. Figure 3.1. ER Diagram of IU Advisee 6 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 3. PROPOSED SOLUTION 7 3.2. Process Model 3.2.1. Functional Decomposition Diagram Figure 3.2 shows the functionalities supported by the IU-Advise system. The proposed thesis aims to following functionalities: • User authentication: insuring confidentiality of the student and advisor identity information; • Student services: viewing his/her degree audit, current enrollment information, advising records and unofficial transcript; • Advisor services: viewing degree audits, current enrollment information and unofficial transcripts of students as well as viewing and editing advising records; Figure 3.2. Functional Decomposition Diagram 3.2.2. Data Flow Diagram Figure 3.3 shows the data flow diagram of the proposed system. The rectangles represent the factors that interact with IU-Advise system. Students, faculty and staff are the main customers who send authentication DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 3. PROPOSED SOLUTION 8 information and requests to the proposed system and receive the results. The parallel lines represent the data stores from which the IU-Advise retrieves data and saves advising records. Figure 3.3. Context Data Flow Diagram DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 4. Requirements The project will be implemented by applying a 3 tier software model which includes a user interface, a business logic and a database layer. First, any common web browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer or even the new Google Chrome can be used to access the user interface of this system. These web browsers support most of the new specifications of HTML and CSS to layout and present results and forms. We will mainly use Internet Explorer and Firefox for testing purposes. Second, the business layer that is responsible for validating, processing and making decisions for any updates, queries, and changes on data can be implemented using Apache (or Internet Information Services-IIS), Zend Framework, and PHP. Apache is a free and open source web server. It is widely used and easy to install on both the Windows and Linux platforms. PHP is a C like open source server-side scripting language. A PHP engine can be installed on both Apache and IIS. In addition to PHP, we will also utilize the Zend Framework which is specifically designed for PHP. It is the main tool for separating the business logic layer and the user interface layer. Moreover, Zend Framework has a built-in templating engine and useful abstract classes for developing a web application. Finally, the database layer will be covered by MySql Server. MySql Server a well-known open source database engine that supports all features of a commercial database engine such as Microsoft SQL Server. The use of PHP and Zend Framework helps us completely separate 3 layers of the application and also increases the flexibility and maintainability of the project. Figure 4.1 shows the architecture of the proposed system. Figure 4.1. Architecture of the proposed system 9 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 5. Expected Outcome Figure 5.1 shows the login form layout for IU-Advise system. An advisor will type IU username and password (or passphrase) above the ”Advisor login” button and click ”Advisor login”. A student will use student’s text boxes and the ”Student login” button to login. Figure 5.1. Login form for IU Advisee 5.1. Advisor User Interface For an advisor, if the authentication process returns a valid result, the proposed system will query from the database to retrieve a list of advisees of the advisor. After processing data from the database, IU-Advise will display a screen similar to figure 5.2. From this screen, the advisor can choose a student to show degree audit (figure 5.5), unofficial transcript, current enrollment information or advising records. Figure 5.2. UI for an advisor 5.2. Student User Interface For a student, after authenticated, he/she can view the degree audit, the unofficial transcript and the advising records through the user interface in figure 5.3. Since a student can only view the degree audit (figure 5.4), there is no combo box in the degree audit like the advisor’s version. 10 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 5. EXPECTED OUTCOME 11 Figure 5.3. UI for a student Figure 5.4. Degree audit under student’s view Figure 5.5. Degree audit under advisor’s view DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • 6. Conclusion Academic advising plays an important role in creating a friendly education environment and providing benefits to college students. There are always challenges to academic advisors to offer accurate, up-to-date, and consistent advising information. IU-Advise system is developed to assist advisors in their efforts of increasing advising productivity of improving advising process. The use of PHP and Zend Framework allow users to comfortably customize, maintain and expand the IU-Advise system to accommodate changes and new requirements in the future. This thesis will provide basic functionalities and build a foundation for a full-featured system. 12 DRAFT: March 2, 2009
    • Bibliography [1] Joan F. Marques. Hitting and missing the jackpot: The nacada 2005 national conference. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, March 2006. [2] O. Marques, Xundong Ding, and S. Hsu. Design and development of a web-based academic advising system. Frontiers in Education Conference, 2001. 31st Annual, 3:S3C–6–10 vol.3, 2001. [3] R. J. Multari. Integrating technology into advisement services. The Mentor:An Academic Advising Journal, May 2004. [4] redLATERN. History. redLATERN, 2009. [online] http://www.redlanternu.com/content.jsp?articleId=80. [5] Ohio University. Dars online. Ohio University, 2006. [online] http://www.ohio.edu/registrar/darsonline.cfm. [6] University of San Diego. Usd: Dars. University of San Diego, 2006. [online] http://www.sandiego.edu/dars/. [7] University of Missouri St. Louis. Umsl dars - degree audit reporting system. University of Missouri - St. Louis. [online] http://www.umsl.edu/services/dars/. [8] RedRock Software Corporation. Advisortrac. RedRock Software Corporation. [online] http://www.advisortrac.net/. [9] Unversity of Louisville. Undergraduate academic advising. Unversity of Louisville. [online] http://louisville.edu/ advising/advisortrac/schedule-an-appointment-with-advisortrac.html. [10] Western Kentucky University. Academic advising and retention center. Unversity of Louisville, 2008. [online] http://www. wku.edu/advising/index.php?page=advisortrac. [11] Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Advising and academics. Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. [online] http://www.ipfw.edu/as/advising/advisortrac.shtml. [12] redLATERN. About us. redLATERN, 2003. [online] http://www.redlanternu.com/about. [13] Rosemary Pleva Flynn. Onestart/eden a description of iu’s transaction processing/recordkeeping environment. Electronic Records Project Archivist, September 2001. [14] Office of the Registrar Bloomington Campus. Exploring innovative methods of student service de- livery, 1998. http://www.wiche.edu/telecom/Resources/publications/guide1003/guide/{82% C44D64-CA7A-11D3-9309-005004AD2ACC}_2200_1784.htm. 13 DRAFT: March 2, 2009