The student sectioning algorithm is an optimized section generation and pre-registration process that seeks to create the closest to an ideal schedule for students. The tool analyzes student demand to create seats/sections for courses and then pre-registers students.
The process starts with a population of students known to be "active" and likely to take classes in a given term. To support sectioning, the system must import student data that includes status codes, programs of study, and academic history (including transfer credits, test codes and attributes).”
Programs of study can be either imported or configured directly in Astra Schedule. Programs contain required and optional courses and the rules that they must satisfy. Multiple versions of programs (catalog versions) are supported to reflect ongoing curricular changes.
Program Templates address credit hour load by term type and recommended/required course order (course bracketing). In this way sectioning can appropriately schedule different subsets of students assigned to the same version of one program. Course eligibility, derived from academic history and other prerequisites, is also enforced.
Student time availability can be managed by assigning students to time availability templates. Time availability templates define the hours during a scheduling week that are both available and preferred.
Sectioning assigns students to sections, creating those sections as needed. There are inherent trade-offs in the sectioning process.
Schedules that are completely based on minimizing sections in a schedule are often not student-friendly.
Students also must be assigned to sections so as to minimize conflicts with other sections that those students need.
Schedules that are completely based on student needs are often inefficient for the institution (too many sections).
The sectioning process is designed to isolate and balance these issues based on user input.
These three factors (section efficiency, student cohort conflict management, and student schedule quality) can be weighted by the end-user and modified for sandbox modeling.
This first phase of sectioning (Split) creates a tentative schedule and provides global time/availability information for the timetabling phase of the scheduling process. The results of this phase are an optimal schedule from a student perspective. When feasible, this phase places all students into all of their highest need courses based on their ideal credit hour load while attempting to keep students with similar course needs and availability in common sections (greatly improving the timetabling algorithm's chances of creating a student conflict free schedule). To accomplish this, the system creates what many institutions may find to be an inefficient schedule with too many sections and lower than desired enrollments per section. The next phase addresses these inefficiencies.
The second phase of sectioning (Pack) looks for opportunities to move students from low enrollment sections created during the split phase into alternate courses. The effect of this phase is to reduce the overall number of sections needed to adequately meet student course needs.
See "Create a Sectioning Sandbox Run" to begin.