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‘Goldilocks Solution’ is Just Right for Process Management at South University: How to Offer Training and Improve Student Retention with CURRICULOG

What Reinhold's creativity shows is that CURRICULOG's best feature is defining and enforcing process, regardless of where that process is found.

CURRICULOG is designed to automate the curriculum approval process. That was the reason for the software’s inception and the driving force behind its development: helping higher education institutions create and manage the cumbersome human process of getting the right input and approvals when they decide to change an element of their curriculum.

For the majority of DIGARC customers, that is exactly why they purchased the CURRICULOG curriculum management system. But for an intrepid few, Curriculog’s impact can be so much larger.

Reinhold Gerbsch, director of quality enhancement plan and academic project manager at South University, saw the potential in CURRICULOG right away. In this case, though, it had nothing to do with curriculum.

With years of consulting experience in organizational development and process management, his skills at defining and streamlining people-driven processes helped him spot an unlikely ally in CURRICULOG. At its core, CURRICULOG automates processes.

Defining a process

The most difficult part of solving the dysfunction that exists in most organizational processes, regardless of industry, is defining a process. The people involved in the process know it more as an amorphous, burdensome responsibility. No one knows all the components. No one knows why certain parts of the process exist. Most importantly, no one seems to ask: is this process a good one or a bad one?

As a consultant, Reinhold spent decades asking that question in various industries. To evaluate a process and its results, he has used a variety of tools, from a simple Excel spreadsheet to feature-laden project management tools. CURRICULOG is the ‘Goldilocks’ solution, he says; it rests between the others. Its biggest strength, according to Reinhold, is that it forces those involved to define their process.

A process step has explicit participants with responsibilities that are visible, trackable and enforceable. This helps identify weak points in the process, which leads to refining it. Is that step necessary? Does it need different people? Do those people need additional help or training? Asking these questions leads to a more stable process with better accountability.

Student Retention Stumbling Block Eliminated

Armed with his new tool, Reinhold set out to improve the process of student retention on South University campuses. For a multi-campus, private institution like Savannah, Georgia-based South, student retention has become an important initiative. Identifying students at risk of dropping out of classes is a precursor to keeping retention high and in producing high-quality graduates.

The team at South had an established method for identifying and contacting these students, but it wasn’t consistent, and was difficult to prove its effectiveness. To improve the process, Reinhold employs CURRICULOG. Using the Approval Process form as a week-by-week progress report over an 11-week quarter, it details what should be done each week to identify and contact at-risk students. Each week’s section includes instructions such as forms to attach and total students contacted, providing the team an easier visualization of its progress.

At the end of the quarter, the team could also see the results easily, from the originally identified students to those that did not re-register. This means that the next quarter can be spent refining the student retention methods, such as defining what makes a student at-risk and which contact methods are most effective at reaching them. The process isn’t a stumbling block anymore.

CURRICULOG Explains Itself

While implementing CURRICULOG to help South University with the problem of student retention, Reinhold saw yet another unconventional use for the software. Knowing how challenging it can be to train a large group to use a particular solution, he did something novel; he turned CURRICULOG inside out and built a process to teach people CURRICULOG by using the software itself for the training. This training approval process is again broken into a series of steps, each representing a core capability of CURRICULOG.

Each step has established tasks, such as making a comment or uploading a file. Once done with the tasks, the trainee approves the proposal and the proposal moves to the next step, where Reinhold reviews their progress to confirm they understand the assignments. The result is a capable, confident team that thoroughly understands the software — and a reusable training process for employee turnover and refreshers.

Leave no Process Unturned

What Reinhold’s creativity shows is that CURRICULOG’s best feature is defining and enforcing process, regardless of where that process is found. The tool finds an approachable way to ask you the tough process questions:

  • Is this step necessary?
  • Does it have the right people?
  • Do the participants need additional help or training?

Whether the process involves curriculum, student retention or training, CURRICULOG users can state confidently: this is a good process.

— Andrea Link, Director of Software Engineering

Want to see how other Central New Mexico Community College uses CURRICULOG to streamline curriculum management for their eight campuses? Check out the case study.

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