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Use the CEG, but fix it first

Use the CEG,

but fix it first

In a recent letter to members of the faculty, Provost Mark S. Wrighton announced his support for the Course Evaluation Guide, calling it a useful resource for students and faculty alike. While it is good to see faculty members interested in student perceptions of MIT classes, there are many problems with using the CEG to make this determination.

The administration should be aware of the CEG's problems. Not all students respond to the CEG, especially when they do not feel strongly about the course. While many professors try to give students time to fill out the forms, others wait until class is over to hand out the forms as the students are preparing to leave. Others hand the forms out at the beginning of class, forcing students to choose between taking notes and filling out the forms. CEG workers need to take measures to ensure uniform administration and collection of the forms.

Another problem lies in the CEG's format. The guide is difficult to understand, with confusing bar graphs and perplexing numerical evaluations. The candid remarks, which more accurately reflect student opinion and are far more interesting, are found at the back of the book. However, they are not accompanied by the name of the course they refer to, so students and faculty cannot fully benefit from them. Since these comments are the best way to gauge student opinion on a class or professor, they should be listed alongside the appropriate class. This change would help make the CEG a more honest reflection of the academic environment.

It is heartening to see that the faculty is interested in student opinion, and the CEG has the potential to become a valuable resource. Today's CEG, though, is an imperfect window into student opinion, and the guide needs substantial revision if it is to be an effective decision-making tool.