2020 Senior Capstone Project

Team: Chris Drazic, Martin Smith, Ryan Taylor

Graduate Program Manager

Website content and an administrative application created for the Western Washington University Computer Science Department’s Graduate Program to evaluate student progress and communicate program details.

Background

Western Washington University, also known as WWU, is a higher education liberal arts institution residing in Bellingham, Washington that services roughly 16,000 students total.  One of their departments, the Computer Science department, offers two types of programs for graduate students. By enrolling in either program, the department promises these students a Masters of Science in Computer Science upon graduation. 

Problem(s)

The Computer Science Department evaluates the progress that their graduate students make through an Excel spreadsheet, which has become troublesome due to the many fields needed to make accurate evaluations. This process in result takes up a lot of time, which is something that neither the department’s Graduate Advisor or administrative staff have much of.

The goal of the Graduate Program Manager project is to help the advising process by reducing the amount of time it takes to evaluate student progress and answer student questions.

How can administrative staff and faculty better evaluate graduate student information and progress, along with being able to communicate effectively to current students, prospective students, and the rest of the department? 

Process

As my teammates focused on understanding the pre-existing software that was developed by previous students for administrative use, I undertook research by conducting interviews with stakeholders as well as completing a heuristic evaluation of online resources readily available to the department’s graduate students.

With these findings, I then progressed to organizing and prototyping the two components of this Project taking the following into consideration:

1.) Students should be able to quickly find general information about the Computer Science department’s graduate program to reduce the amount of time that that the Graduate Advisor normally would spend answering said questions. This is important considering the vast number of resources students will access in both the department and Graduate School.

2.) Important criteria such as a student’s GPA, status, and number of forms submitted should be visible and readily available to reduce the amount of time needed to evaluate student progress.

3.) All aspects of the project must be easily maintained by those who would use it (Graduate Advisor, administrative staff, IT staff, and departmental Webmaster).

Proposed Website Architecture for Graduate Program information on the Department’s website

Proposed Database Structure for Administrative Application

With my team’s work, the Graduate Program’s information became more localized onto their department’s website and the administrative application was reorganized to provide more relevant feedback for stakeholders.