Sunday, December 20, 2009

Inscrutible Enrollments

We offer a two-semester course in Calculus for the Biological Sciences. It requires the same prereqs as Real Calculus for Science and Engineering, a passing grade in Precalc. It requires more background than Calculus Lite for Business, Nursing, and Social Sciences, which has College Algebra as its only prereq.

I was populating my database with coures enrollments so that I could enforce various things, and I noticed that Stu was signed up for both College Algebra and Precalc. I wrote to Stu saying that this wasn't cool, that you took one than the other if you needed both. Otherwise if you just needed Precalc, no need to take College Algebra. There is no reasonable reason to take both courses in this sequence at the same time. This isn't like Western Civ 1 and Western Civ 2 where you can learn about what happened a long time ago before you learned about what happened a long, long time ago.

Stu wrote back saying that the online graduation-requirement checking oracle says that Stu needs to take both of these courses. Stu also claims to have already received passing grades in Calculus for Biological Sciences 1 and Calculus for Biological Sciences 2. As the only reason we offer College Algebra and Precalc is to get students ready for our calculus courses, there is now absolutely no reason for Stu to take either -- let alone both.

But then the plot thickens. Stu's record is not what it seems. Stu must not know that I have access to look up math class history in the registration database. Stu has credit for Calculus for Biological Sciences 2 but nowhere does it show any attempts at Calculus for Biological Sciences 1. There were also some other inconsistencies in this story.

So I used my powers of looking things up to find out who Stu's faculty advisor is and emiled the avisor, pasting in Stu's inaccurate description of the situation, asking the advisor to look into things and to help Stu find acceptable math classes.