Student Affairs: Study Design Project

Student Affairs Planning, Assessment, Research and Retention contracted with our office to replace their offline method of managing assessment documentation (Study Designs).

New Website: http://studentaffairs.ncsu.edu/saparr/study-design

The Project:

The need was for staff in Student Affairs to complete an online form, or set of forms that would make up a Study Design. The submitted Study Design would then go to an administrator who could add comments, change pieces if necessary, or send back to the original author for modification. Originally, using a solution like Google Docs was considered, but was quickly rejected after deciding that there needed to more structure, and more work-flow imposed on the process of creating and approving a study design. That’s not to mention the fact that Google Apps was not available for Employees at NC State, and would have forced employees to put University data on the commodity Google Docs service (which is a big security & compliance headache).

The Solution:

A web application was built to manage the entire process of creating these study designs, which took an inefficient process that involved a lot of paper, and made it streamlined and structured. Permitted users can now use this online service to create their study design in a structured fashion, filling in the necessary fields, without having to worry about fitting all their information into a small box on a printed piece of paper. These authors can also share their study designs with other permitted users, so they can collaborate on the same document before submitting for approval.

Whereas before, the template document had many different sections that may have been difficult to understand or complete as one whole process, the online application breaks out each individual section and allows the author to update each one individually. This made it easier to ensure that changes were saved along the way, rather than having to fill out a really long form, and then possibly losing your work half way through (if there was a power outage, or you didn’t have enough time to complete everything in the same sitting).

One of of the problems from the offline process, was the lack of a standardized naming convention for departments, offices or other core pieces of information that would be used to search, filter or run reports on. The application now manages those pieces of important data, so that all users can take advantage of the naming convention rather than having to question or create their own version of what they call a department or office.

And, because all Study Designs are based on particular dates or periods of time, the application now manages each study design based on its date. This enables the administrators and authors to create and manage many years worth of Study Designs from the same location, rather than them all being separated and kept on different pieces of paper or in different file folders.

Sample Screenshots from the New Application: