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Student course guide revived

The Student Course Evaluation Guide will be published starting in spring term, 1987, according to Dean Dellinger '88, a student heading the effort.

The guide, which has not been published since fall term, 1985, evaluates courses offered in previous terms. It rates professors and teaching assistants on a numerical scale for teaching skill and style. It also offers advice and comments to students interested in taking the courses evaluated.

Former Student Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) Chairman Mark Fister '86 had said last fall that "a severe shortage of manpower" and "an increase in the number of courses evaluated" led to SCEP's decision to stop publishing the guide.

Almost 200 courses were included in the guide when SCEP cancelled its publication.

Publication of the guide had stopped due largely to the graduation of Steven Barber '84, according to Dellinger. Barber wrote many of the computer programs which had been used in preparing previous guides.

"He wrote some pretty good programs which worked, but when he left, no one knew how to use it as well as he did," said Dellinger. "We're starting with the program itself. We're not going to approach the departments until we have a working program."

An unspecified number of courses offered spring term, 1986, will be evaluated for the spring term, 1987, guide. Dellinger said that he hoped to continue printing a guide every term from then on.

John Keunzig '88 will write the computer program to tabulate response forms based on his previous data processing experience. Professor Leonard A. Gould '48 of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) is providing funds toward developing the program.

With EECS "being the largest department, we are concerned with getting the evaluations done," Gould said. "I happened to know some students involved with [the guide], so I offered money from the department to help develop software."

The data used in the guide is obtained from forms distributed to and collected from students in certain classes. One side of the form is used for numerical ratings, and the other provides a space for comments. Dellinger said comments for the guide will be chosen based on the number of similar responses made by students.

"I think the guide serves a useful purpose because it gives the students some student feedback when choosing classes," Dellinger said. "Admittedly, you can ask an upperclassmen, but with the guide, you have not just one student's opinion, but a collection of many students' opinions," he explained.

Dellinger expects to plan the size and the contents of the guide during Independent Activities Period. He encouraged all interested in helping to contact him.