MajorQuest wins national award for innovative use of technology

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) chose Penn State's MajorQuest as the 2016 Advising Technology Innovation Award winner for its creative and unique use of technology in support of academic advising. Developed and maintained by the Division of Undergraduate Studies, MajorQuest is an online advising tool originally introduced in 2012 and recently enhanced with a new interface and expanded capabilities.

The award-winning advising resource helps students identify potential majors by focusing on the curriculum in each and emphasizing the importance of considering those that match their strengths and interests. 

MajorQuest first prompts users to select key areas of interest — such as art and design, cyber information, culture and history, environment and sustainability, and sports or teaching. Additional filters suggest other preferences related to entrance requirements and/or math, science and language courses. The results show majors with coursework focusing on all interests and preferences selected and also include hyperlinks to resources about each major, the college/department that offers it, related clubs or listservs and advising points of contact. 

“Students use MajorQuest not only to discover viable majors,” said Laura Brown, senior undergraduate studies adviser in DUS and a member of the development committee, “but also to inform richer conversations with academic advisers who can help them connect personal interests, experiences and life goals to academic opportunities and possible career paths. ​

“Our team carefully reviewed all Penn State majors to determine the interest areas associated with each program’s coursework,” she continued, “meaning each interest tag linked to a major reflects what a student will study in that major.

“At least annually, programs coordinators across the University review this work to ensure MajorQuest is as up-to-date and useful as possible.”

Jeff Sechler, the division’s multimedia specialist and MajorQuest developer, said, “I was excited to work on MajorQuest and especially intrigued with improving its design and user interface. The filters and final product were the result of many conversations and lots of team members with good ideas.

“It’s gratifying that the National Academic Advising Association recognizes MajorQuest’s value to students,” he added.

With more than 11,000 members, NACADA is the leading professional organization for academic advising. The association specifically promotes quality academic advising and professional development in the advising community to enhance the educational development of students. NACADA’s annual awards program promotes recognition of outstanding advising programs and professionals within higher education with the goal of improving advising resources for students.

The Division of Undergraduate Studies, a unit within the Office of Undergraduate Education, is Penn State’s largest unit of enrollment for first-year students and leads the development of advising policies and practices, manages the University-wide academic information network and provides general academic advising for current and prospective Penn State students.

Last Updated June 16, 2016