Student Central currently has no feature to check a student's previous coursework before allowing a student to register for a class. "We haven't found a clear way to do that and not disrupt the whole system," said David Lanier, the University registrar.
A project is under way to add a prerequisite screening feature, but it will not be completed for one to two more years. The project keeps getting pushed back because of other jobs demand the attention of the registrar's office, Lanier said.
Carolyn Cannon, associate dean of academic advising, said her office is concerned that there is no registration filter on Student Central.
Cannon said there are two main problems with students taking courses for which they haven't fulfilled the prerequisites. First, the student probably does not have the necessary background to succeed in the course, and second, it takes up seats that could be filled by students who need the course and have completed the prerequisites. "If a student needs a course to graduate, and they have the prerequisites, you don't want a freshman accidentally registering," Cannon said.
Cannon said students occasionally key in the wrong call number and don't realize they registered for the wrong class. Other students just don't thoroughly examine the directory of classes.
But some students intentionally register for the wrong class in an attempt to bypass a prerequisite or because they don't feel they were placed in the appropriate level, Cannon said, adding that such incidents are more likely to happen in math and science courses, which have defined sequences.
Cannon used the example of a student registering for Math 31 even though he didn't pass Math 30 with the required grade of C- or better. "Some people say, `Even though I made a D, I can do better, so I'll be fine,'" Cannon said.
To avoid such problems, Warren Wogen, chairman of the Department of Mathematics, said his department requires students to fill out a form on the first day of class explaining how they've satisfied the prerequisites for the course.
Wogen said it's possible that a student slips by without taking the prerequisites once in a while but that the forms have been effective for his department. "Prerequisites are there for a reason, and students are likely to get in serious academic trouble (if they lie on the form),"he said.