Vienna, Austria played host to the 12th International Conference on the Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling. The conference focuses on a wide range of industries from Healthcare, Public Transport, Production and Higher Education.
Scientia was represented by Business Consultant and former Senior Timetabling Officer at University of Wolverhampton, Helen Kirby-Hawkins. Helen’s presentation focussed on student perceptions of the time of their activities and how this motivates their attendance behaviours.
Helen said “The presentation was based around research which focussed on cohort specific feedback about their teaching timetable. The findings of the research centred on a preferred working day and was supported by other research which suggests this preference transcends discipline. The findings also demonstrated that gap tolerances (the number of hours between activities in the timetable tolerated before a student modifies their attendance behaviour based on the gap) may vary based on the distance from campus a student lives”.
Helen’s presentation went on to explore the rationale put forward by Clay and Breslow’s 1996 study. The study looked into the time an activity is scheduled and the factors in motivating attendance. Clay and Breslow’s acknowledges that timings are part of a bigger decision-making process and factors are weighted. The study also accepted that the time of an activity is scheduled is a factor and therefore the teaching timetable has an influence on student attendance.
The presentation further explored other considerations including curriculum complexity and module choices also have a large influence on timetable construction and mean that sometimes the workable solution introduces gaps between activities due to the number of pathways for students.
The conclusion drawn from the presentation was that further research is required into different cohorts and year groups to understand if attendance behaviours change overtime, vary across cohort and whether gap tolerance varies to better equip timetablers to schedule activities more intelligently to maximise attendance.
The conference gave Scientia a real insight into how an international community of researchers, practitioners and vendors are focusing on all aspects of computer-aided timetables and how timetabling and scheduling advances can make a significant impact to the bottom line.