Course X May Require Students to Take 10.001 During IAP OnlyBy Reuven M. Lerner
In the first move of its kind, the Department of Chemical Engineering has proposed teaching a required classroom subject exclusively during Independent Activities Period.
The proposal, which has been submitted to the Ad Hoc Presidential Committee on the Academic Calendar, as well as the Committee on Curricula and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, would require students in Course X to spend one IAP taking Introduction to Computer Methods (10.001), a 6-unit subject that teaches basic C programming and computer skills.
"The proposal has gone into the CUP, and the proposal is not for new units with respect to IAP," said Robert A. Brown, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering.
10.001 is "currently taught during IAP, and is one of the Institute's largest IAP offerings, with an enrollment of approximately 100 during IAP now," he added.
According to Brown, "the advantage that we're trying to get is to have our students spread out their curriculum, to make more use of the available time."
Courses may not be appropriate
Professor Linn W. Hobbs, chair of the IAP Policy Committee, said that "it would be unfair not to allow, or at least encourage, some departmental required subjects to be taught during IAP, provided they're appropriate for the IAP period."
"10.001 certainly falls into that category," he added.
Brown agreed with this assessment, adding that "You have to be very, very selective in what you teach during IAP."
"There are courses that fit IAP very well," said Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs. "There are others which are better done in the regular term."
Hobbs said that while 10.001 would be the first required classroom subject to be taught during IAP, it would not be the first departmental requirement offered exclusively during that time. "Geology field camp and architecture internships are required," and both of them are offered only during IAP, he said.
"The concern," Hobbs said, "is that if all departments did this, it would remove some number of IAPs for each individual in that department."
Brown said that while other departments might also offer required classes, only a limited number of subjects lend themselves to being taught over IAP. 10.001, for instance, "lends itself very, very well to that format," he said.
Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, said that an important factor to consider in the 10.001 proposal is that students may fulfill the requirement without actually taking the subject. "It's pretty easy to find approved substitutions," including the popular subject Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00), he said.
The various committees involved in the decision "are pretty close to it" now, with a final judgment due in the next few weeks, Smith said. The groups will probably recommend to "proceed with caution," he added, explaining that Course X might be expected to offer 10.001 during the fall as well as IAP until the faculty is given a chance to debate it.