[Editorial] A New Plan for Course Planning
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 20th, 2015
You can tell by their faces that the freshmen are utterly confused as to which courses they should pick next year. With only a course catalogue and the occasional grain of advice to assist their decision making, freshmen, and many other students, are left to make key academic choices, with little information at their disposal.
Although teachers do an excellent job of informing students about future courses, their advice is inevitably biased towards courses within their own departments. Occasionally, this propensity can even lead teachers to inadvertently promote courses they teach. Furthermore, advisors offer recommendations to students based off their own personal knowledge, but even the most experienced of advisors may not understand the nuances between classes like “Topics in Psychology” and “Psychology Seminar.”
Often, teachers and administrators alike preach the “speak to upperclassmen” mantra, which has merit, but is also inextricably-linked with terror. Sure, a freshman can ask a senior about a certain class, but without an organized system for course feedback in place, students that are shy, for example, are at an inherent disadvantage from gaining valuable information.
What our community needs is a reliable system where students can anonymously submit honest feedback regarding aspects of the courses they have taken. Towards the end of the year, students could be given questionnaires about the course, similar to teacher feedback sheets, and their responses would be published publicly, accessible to any student. Through these surveys, students could comment on course difficulty, interest of subject material, expected homework time, and more. If we were to adopt a more organized system of course planning, students would have a database of peer responses from which to make informative decisions, such as whether “Senior Seminar” or “The Globalization of Islam” is the right course for the specific individual.
As with any groundbreaking solution, this system has the potential for flaws. But, through reasonable regulation, these issues can be avoided. For example, if some students were to write explicitly vulgar comments, some method of moderation would prevent such inappropriate feedback. Perhaps SGA members could sift through these comments with the sole purpose of removing unwarranted or bashful submissions. However, negative comments that provide constructive criticism would be perfectly acceptable, assuming the complaints are reasonable and pleasantly articulated.
To provide an organized source of information to help students choose courses for the coming year, Milton could create a user-friendly website. Although this proposed website could not likely be implemented within the next year, we, as an Editorial Board, hope to see some form of this proposed system utilized in the coming years.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6865