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Q & A Regarding Student Enrollment Verification Using Canvas

From Provost Willard Gingerich:

September 9, 2014

Q & A Regarding Student Enrollment Verification Using the Canvas Learning Management System

Q: What is the issue?
A: Very briefly, following a recent Federal Program Review of Title IV compliance, federal auditors have mandated that the University must immediately implement a procedure whereby every student’s enrollment can be verified before any student receives federal financial aid funds.   It was incumbent upon the university to immediately devise a method that could be quickly implemented for the fall 2014 semester by which enrollment could be verified. The window of opportunity to devise this solution was less than six weeks. Yesterday they reaffirmed that demand. 

Q: Why did you elect to use the Canvas learning management system rather than making changes to the “Web for Faculty and Advisors” in order to accomplish this?
A: Careful consideration was given to adapting the “Web for Faculty and Advisors”, but after consultation with our vendor, it became clear that the extent of code revision and testing required to ensure a working solution would put our ability to acquire the necessary data for the first weeks of the fall term at risk. 

Q: Why is the questionnaire automatically graded?
A:  The intent was to have the entire enrollment verification process occur with little or no intervention on the part of the faculty. This could only be accomplished by automatically placing the assignment in all courses and sections of record scheduled for the fall semester and having the enrollment verification occur by means of an automatic scoring capability which processes the moment the student completes the assignment. The process must produce a score in order for the results to then be captured and loaded into the financial aid module of our administrative systems which will then authorize the disbursement of financial aid.

Q: Am I able to remove the assignment and the associated grades?
A: Yes. It was always the intent that the assignment would be in place for a limited period of time – a few weeks into the semester in order to do the necessary data collection.  When the Financial Aid Office informs us that the compliance requirement has been fulfilled, I will distribute a notice to all faculty advising that you may delete the assignment. This will expunge both the assignment and the grading points associated with it.

Q: What happens if a student does not complete the survey? 
A. Students will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid without enrollment verification.  This means that some students who have started the semester will not be able to continue their attendance–Which would, obviously, have a profound impact on their ability to complete not only this year, but their degrees.  Federal financial aid is critically important to more than 8,000 current students, many of whom come the most financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Q: Will the same procedure be used to handle this enrollment verification need in the future?

A: Not likely.  As noted earlier, this procedure was assembled hastily and it has raised many legitimate concerns and procedural complications that must be remedied.  I am working with the appropriate members of the faculty, financial aid administration and IT to reinvent or at worst adjust the present procedure in a manner that ensures the intrusions on the academic process are minimized and still allows us to answer the federal mandate.

Thanks again for all your attention and support.

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