u.Achieve finalized as replacement to DARS

Bradley has seen a multitude of changes recently: The construction of the Business and Engineering Complex, the not-so-distant implementation of Bradley’s Core Curriculum and the appointment of University President Gary Roberts. Now, change has come once again in the form of a new degree audit system: u.Achieve.

Although u.Achieve and Bradley’s former system Degree Audit Report, DARS, operated simultaneously since the fall semester of 2016, u.Achieve officially replaced DARS earlier this semester in mid-October. DARS held familiarity to the entire Bradley staff, being used for nearly two decades, with its inception at Bradley in the late ‘90s.

The registrar’s office said via email that the system switch was due, as DARS was outdated.

“The time for a significant upgrade had come,” Registrar Andy Kindler said. “DARS was working fine, but we were several versions from the most updated release. We also upgraded to enhance system security.”

The registrar’s office said not only did they want to incorporate a reliable, enhanced degree audit system for campus use, but also to make the transition between systems as smooth as possible. According to Kindler, they have achieved those goals the past year.

“One important decision that assisted in this was to run DARS and u.Achieve parallel for a year,” Kindler said. “This allowed users time to familiarize themselves with the new system, and gave the implementation team time to continue refining the new system … It’s a continual work in progress. Our implementation team has done our best to respond to issues and questions as they have arisen and are committed to continuing to do so.”

However, some students said they do not know how to operate the system. Of those students is junior organizational communication major Victoria Williams.

“Change is good in a sense, but I wish they would have had a seminar on how to use it,” Williams said. “I’m an EHS 120 student aide, so I have to teach the incoming freshmen how to use u.Achieve. I know how to use it now, but it took me a while.”

As for faculty members, u.Achieve has a different reputation. Kindler said most of the faculty and campus have given good reviews thus far.

“Rather than complaints, we have received a lot of valuable feedback that helped us make vital improvements, especially when we first went live,” Kindler said. “We have received a lot of positive feedback; people seem to like [u.Achieve]. The views are more user-friendly; audits are logged, so you can go back and review things. Approved degree requirement exceptions can be viewed; you can easily run what-if audits if you are considering changing to or adding a major or minor.”

One faculty member who see u.Achieve as an upgrade is Director of Academic Success Center Gregory Haines. As someone who looks at numerous audits of student degrees in the Academic Success Center, Haines approves of the u.Achieve switch.

“It’s a much more robust system,” Haines said. “U.Achieve allows for students to have different parts of their program connect with the correct catalog term, which worked well with the implementation of Bradley’s Core Curriculum. In DARS, we were severely limited with how that could work, and it was very static in nature and didn’t allow the switch between the two separate curriculums. U.Achieve is much more dynamic.”

According to Haines, small hiccups are natural in the beginning stages of a system implementation. Haines said these are not severe problems, however, and the solution comes down to good communication between the various departments and faculty.

“Some audits had programming issues,” Haines said. “Some information didn’t show up correctly on a row. That [is solved] by a simple phone call to the registrar’s office. In the long-run, I think u.Achieve is the 100 percent better solution. Getting feedback at this stage is imperative for u.Achieve to be successful. When we see these issues, they have to be reported so the [issues] can be fixed so that people can really depend on what they see on their u.Achieve audit.”

Haines also said issues may arise if students are not familiar with using the system.

“In the beginning, it was a bit frustrating [without being shown how to use it],” Williams said.

However, Haines said the Academic Success Center has implemented ways to get incoming students to become familiar with u.Achieve.

 

“In addition to advisors being able to help students with their degree audit, the Academic Success Center has now hired the student aids who helped students at freshmen orientation,” Haines said. “Student aids help pick classes during orientation, and now they are able to help students with u.Achieve, which allows incoming students to learn the system. They report any issues occurring in the system to me, and I am more than willing to send the issues to the registrar’s office.”

Students and faculty who experience issues or have questions operating u.Achieve may report to the Registrar’s Office at their office number (309) 677-3101 or via email at registrar@bradley.edu.

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