CAP give 110 frosh warning
By Joey Marquez
After one semester with the new pass/no-record policy for freshmen in effect, 110 freshmen were given academic warnings -- more than double the number given last year.
According to Bonnie J. Walters, assistant dean for student affairs, this huge increase is a result of a grading policy in effect for the first time this year, which raised the passing grade from a D letter grade to a C.
The increase in the number of warnings given to freshmen this year has no bearing on the intelligence of the freshman class as a whole, Walters said.
Walters defined a warning as an expression of concern by the Committee on Academic Performance to a student who fails two or more classes and as a result is given a limit of 48 units for the following semester.
Walters, along with Travis R. Merritt, associate dean for student affairs, agreed that the new policy produced the increase. Both also said that if the policy had been initiated earlier, the same increase would have probably ensued.
Walters said she was "not
surprised by the outcome," and said that freshmen should not see this "as a bad thing." The purpose of the policy is for students to avoid going into higher level material without properly learning fundamentals.
Merritt defended the policy with the examples of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics: Both ask students to repeat courses in which they receive a D letter grade or lower.
Walters said that professors do not want the burden of teaching students fundamentals which they should have learned in their freshman year.
The new policy also initiated a credit limit of 54 units for the first semester of the freshman year, and 57 units for the second semester.
Walters and Merritt attributed the new limit to faculty members who acknowledge that students abuse the pass/no-record policy by "overloading" during the freshman year.
In both the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics, the number of students who did not receive credit did not increase at all.
In the mathematics department, roughly 50 students did not receive credit in calculus -- 18.01, 18.011 or 18.012 -- which was not an increase from previous years. Out of these 50 students, approximately 20 passed a comprehensive test during IAP, according to David S. Jerison, professor of mathematics.
George F. Koster, graduate registration officer and professor of physics, said that out of the 550 students who enrolled in Physics I (8.01) at the beginning of the semester, 105 students did not receive credit. This number reflected neither an increase nor a decrease from last year. Koster added that of the 101 students who took the comprehensive 8.01 test during IAP, 39 freshmen received credit.
Both Walters and Merritt believe that the new grading system is an increase in MIT's standards, and that it will better the productivity of the Institute. They also believe that the freshman class should not react badly to the increase in warnings.
The faculty approved the changes to the grading system in May 1989, after several months of student and faculty debate on the issue of pass/no-record grading.