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Is there anyone here who would be able and willing to speculate about possible bugs in a university web registration program? The issue concerns a student who selected a pass/not pass option in one course but wound up with that option in a different course. The university will not budge on this, but I am curious about the possibilities that the fault could lie in their system rather than in what the student did. If no one here is interested in this, could anyone suggest a suitable forum/website for such questions. Thank you very much.

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Last Post by redwheelbarrow
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The first doubt should go with the system, although it's not likely. Has a problem ever arised like this before? My guess is that it's probably the student, but when it's his word against the system, there's not much you can do.

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Yes, I understand that the problem would appear to lie with the student--and maybe probably does. But I have some lingering doubts for a few reasons. The student swears it was done correctly, that she double-checked the screen (she did not print a copy, unfortunately--a lesson learned there). I know that her intent was as she said (I am her parent, and we had just consulted on the action). She is typically very reliable and is as honest as they come.

I did inquire as to whether problems had arisen before but the university did not answer that question. They provided a two-step log file that seems problematic because the sequence seems illogical. It says the student went to the class she did not want to select first and selected it and then went to the other class, the one she did want to select, and did nothing. That is counter-intuitive at the least. The log file is also five or six hours off--something I suppose may not mean that the system is fouled up in other ways but is curious.

I appreciate that all this may just lead down a cul-de-sac, but it's a mystery I'd like to pursue a bit further, which is why I'm trying to find out what experts think are the chances that it's a systems problem and, if so, what that might be.

By the way, is it likely one could find any record of the transaction on the student's computer?

Thanks very much for your response. Nice to see Yeats quoted, too.

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Well, it would depend on the software architecture. The logfile seemed somewhat questionable. I don't think it would record anything untill it was selected, such as the class she wanted. So, that could be doubt on the system right there. Do you remember any other information contained in the logfile? Was there a lot of information, say everything the user did? It just doesn't make since to me that it would log that she actually went to the class. I would think it would only log something like that if it were selected, otherwise what's the point? Are these people causing problems with this? I would think a University would fix something like that without no problem, if not it definitely deserves some complaining. My oldest brother had some problems like this a few years back, and it took forever to get things cleared up.

Anyways, a hard copy(printed version) would be the best proof, but other than that it's the logfile, which I wouldn't base my knowledge on. If the University won't answer wether the problem has arised before, then there's no doubt there has.

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Again, many thanks for taking the trouble to comment on this issue. The response I received was not from the registrar or anyone connected to the computer system but from a dean. The dean's account of the log file is rather cryptic. It just says that the registrar office's log file shows activity at 5:46, when the student changed one course from a letter-grade option to pass/not pass, and at 5:47, when the student went to the second course but did not actually make a change at 5:47.

That's all they gave me. I don't know whether that means that's all they have or not. Presumably, their records show--or they must believe--that the student then clicked on the button that finalized the transaction.

It seems to be in the nature of bureaucracies to communicate the minimum of information required. From their perspective, the less said the better, and, ideally, the complainant will just go away. And on any issue of grade change, the university is extremely rigid. They would prefer that some innocent students suffer rather than risk the possibility that any dishonest students might gain something undeserved. So it's just very, very difficult if not impossible to get them to acknowledge any possibility of error, to question their policies, or to consider the plight of a given individual.

About the time discrepancy--could that be a sign of other problems, or is it more likely an independent problem?

What are the chances of some record remaining on the student's computer?

With gratitude. . . .

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The time desrepency is most likely an independant problem. If they have proof that the user made a mistake, or possibly a flaw in the system, they should change it, no questions asked. If you've already talked to the dean and he still wont budge, you might have to threaten to take it to the next level.... It's sad they wont fix something like this, either they're too lazy or just plain ignorant.


As for the transaction saved on her computer, It's VERY doubtful. The only way it would be saved is if it wasn't an internet app she was running and it automatically saved after transactions. If that was the case, I'm sure they would have said something though.

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Probably, I ought to inquire further, just to ask whether there is a more extensive log file and, again, whether they have experienced bugs with the program (or system) and/or other complaints of similar problems. I just wish I had a better understanding of how these programs work and what could potentially have gone wrong with this one. But I guess it must be difficult to speculate without knowing more about the program they are running, etc.

Are there any other forums that you can suggest I might try?

Again, many thanks.

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Personally, I would go to an educational forum that deals with colleges and advice. That's about all I can recommend. You can try some different software forums, but I doubt you'll find the help you want.

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