Save time and money while boosting accuracy and efficiency

Effat University in Saudi Arabia was not only the country’s first private university for women, it was also the first to offer degrees in areas such as engineering, architecture, entrepreneurship, visual and digital production for women.

To support these efforts, Effat University introduced a co-curricular programme, the Effat Ambassadors Programme (EAP), which offers a holistic education designed to enrich student experiences beyond the confines of their major. The EAP Programme offers a variety of opportunities carefully designed to enhance students professionally, spiritually, physically, personally, socially and academically. All of which leads to promoting key skills and competencies required in an Effat University graduate.

The grading system for the EAP Programme is based on value points to distinguish its distinct nature from academic programmes.

Automating grading for more efficient tracking and reporting

“Student participation in the activities of EAP is part of the student’s grades, and therefore needs to be tracked accurately and in a timely manner,” explains Moodi AlSaib, the executive director of Management of Information and Educational Technology Services at Effat University. “Students are also given a separate development transcript that can be used as reference in applying for jobs. This is especially at the start of their careers, as most of these activities are planned to help the student acquire all the 21st century skills they need in a career before graduating.”

Tracking participation in these activities was extremely challenging. More than 50 activities were offered per semester, some of which attracted more than 1,000 participants—a huge amount of data to collect and disseminate.

“Initially, this was done by manual data entry on Microsoft® Excel spreadsheets, sorted according to individual student ID numbers,” says AlSaib. “On average, 10–15 people were involved, a process prone to human error. When instructors needed data for grade entry, they were obliged to search manually through all records for student ID numbers to find the specific information needed.”

The Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet that includes the value points assigned to each student was shared with the 190- plus instructors. Each would manually extract the value point assigned to the students registered in each of his/ her courses for the semester—on average five courses per faculty member. One mistake in calculating value points would mean recalculating all the percentages that measure student achievement.

Effat University replaced the Microsoft® Excel spreadsheets with Banner by Ellucian forms and integrated Banner with time attendance machines, significantly decreasing the time and manpower required to record data and correct human errors.

“The flexibility of Banner and ability to customise it has had a major shift in how EAP is perceived by faculty, staff and students,” says Dr. Zainab Abuelmaatti, dean for admissions and registration at Effat University. “Value points are automatically added to all the students registered in a given course, so the instructor can automatically add the grades to the list of students registered in his/her course.”

Eliminating errors in both data collection and retrieval

Customising Banner for EAP not only made it easier to administer the programme effectively, it also had a direct impact on faculty, students and the registration team. Prior to using Banner, the university used manual data entry processes for each of the 3,200 students and almost 50 activities in a given semester.

"Both students and faculty are confident in the accuracy of the data and this enhances overall satisfaction rates. Delays in reporting have been eliminated and faculty members have been relieved of tedious data entry and retrieval tasks."
Dr. Akila Sarirete, Dean of College of Engineering, Effat University

The Ellucian student information system enabled the University’s Management of Information and Educational Technology Service (MIETS) department to create a customised Banner form, automating data entry during the activity in real time. “By automating data collection, human error has been completely eliminated and accuracy guaranteed,” says AlSaib. “Student attendance is monitored by a fingerprint reading device linked directly to Banner. Fingerprints cannot be shared or duplicated and data is entered automatically on the system in less than five minutes.”

Simplifying data retrieval

Previously, faculty had to sift through thousands of student records to find what they needed. Now, they can extract information relevant to the students in their particular courses simply and quickly, saving valuable time. In addition, the university enhanced the admission process with document loading to create a better, more efficient process.

Results

By upgrading to Banner, Effat University has reduced the amount of time and people dedicated to data entry and administering the programme. “From a cost perspective, staffing efficiencies have saved Effat University more than SAR 2,000,000 (or $500,000 in U.S.) in MIETS expenditure and staffing,” says AlSaib. “Both students and faculty are confident in the accuracy of the data and this enhances overall satisfaction rates. Delays in reporting have been eliminated and faculty members have been relieved of tedious data entry and retrieval tasks.”