Remediation of Class Registration for First-Year College Students

Remediation of Class Registration for First-Year College Students
Photo by John Schnobrich / Unsplash

As an academic advisor for first-year college students, I teach the fundamentals of their selected degree paths, such as what they can gain from their degree and what classes go towards degree completion. During appointments with my advisees over the past few years, I've encountered different learning styles on how students retain information. My advisees range from new first-year students out of high school to adult learners who have waited several years before attempting their bachelor's degree. Because the learning styles within this range are so large, I have to modify how I approach learning opportunities, including teaching students how to register for classes that go toward their degree pathway and why these classes are important.

Outdated Advising Practices in 2023

Part of my job responsibilities is to teach students how to search for classes in their degree path and then show them how to register for those classes on our college registration portal. For the last year, the office I work for has used this specific document to help students prepare for advising.

To be quite blunt, I've hated this document from the moment I saw it. It's text-heavy, with bold red font throughout. As a first-year student, I'd immediately disengage with this information, so I decided to remediate this document into two digital documentation steps: a video tutorial on how to search for courses and an infographic on how to register for those courses. 

Just before our semester began, I'd been playing around with ideas on creating a better advisement document, so I plan to present this to my boss to see if they find the new digital documents effective for our students.

"What Classes Do I Need to Take?"

I've encountered many challenges keeping students engaged enough to comprehend the information I'm trying to give them. My advisees tend to skim or ignore instructions that look 'boring' and 'bland.' During email correspondence, students will not thoroughly read the text instructions I gave them from the advising document, which results in registration errors. To prevent issues in the future, I had to reassess the registration process by thinking about the end user, first-year college students, who tend to lean more towards digital media elements such as images and videos when trying to understand a new concept.

I started the digital remediation with a simple Excel spreadsheet that gives first-year History and Political Science students an outlook on what classes I recommend they take for their first year. For example, the students in this major would benefit from taking a Public Speaking course if they ever intended to become a history tour guide or college professor.

Photo by Amanda Austin

Each line lists the name of the course, how many credit hours, and even a box they can check off after registering for the class. Now, students have a visual of what courses will help the first year of their degree path.

Searching for Course Days and Times

On our college website, students have a 'portal' that houses important applications, such as DegreeWorks and D2L, along with the 'Register for Classes' application. A common issue with my advisees is that they need help searching for course days and times when preparing for registration and need help finding the specific list of classes. It can be challenging to explain verbally or via text how to find this list in their portal, so I created a step-by-step screen recording on how students can search for their classes. To ensure the video is accessible to most users, I will auto-caption the recording once uploaded to YouTube to make following along with the video much more manageable.

0:00
/2:59

Since many of my advisees learn at their own pace, the video tutorial has many benefits. The user can watch the video where they feel comfortable and can pause, rewind, or skip to a part of the video they may need extra time with.

For Those Who Are 'Old Fashioned'

Surprisingly, some students feel that a video explanation is too much and may prefer a tangible object to look at, such as an infographic. I've always been a big fan of Canva, and when designing documents, I can use set templates or modify them to create educational visual content. For my advisees, I wanted to create a one-page infographic-style PDF document that would give them all of the critical information needed to register themselves for classes.

In chapter 12 of Technical Communication from Lannon & Gurak (2022), I learned that in creating a readable infographic, there must be a clear and concise flow to my information, along with straight-to-the-point text and clear visuals of photos and icons that make sense to the user. I numbered each section of my infographic to help students understand the instruction flow of the document. Each image shows step-by-step what the student should be looking for on their computer screen when they're registering for classes. When choosing color schemes, I wanted to keep the design mild, with short text and the main focus on the images, to mirror the registration program they'd be looking at on their computer. 

Overall, my goal was to create new visual digital documents different from the text-heavy advisement PDF previously given to me. I hope to get my classmates' feedback on this, as I'd like to share it with my boss and test it out during the next round of class registration. 

Amanda Austin

Amanda Austin

I am a passionate writing professional with skills in technical and professional writing, blogging & web design, a career in higher education, and an M.A. in Technical and Professional Writing.
Brunswick, Georgia