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Course Guide Moves to World-Wide Web, Changes Questions

By Venkatesh Satish
Associate News Editor

The Course Evaluation Guide is undergoing a variety of changes, including a move to a World-Wide Web version of the guide that would greatly reduce the number of copies printed each term.

The CEG, a student-run publication which compiles statistics and students' comments on classes and professors every semester, is having financial trouble that forces it to scale down the number of published copies, said Editor in Chief Christopher E. Yang '95.

Recent guides have run deficits of several thousand dollars, exhausting the surplus generated in previous years, Yang said.

"People will be somewhat unhappy [about not having the guide in hard copy], but this is the best we can do at this point," Yang said.

While only a few hundred copies will be printed, the CEG will provide a copy to living groups and other major organizations to ensure students have access to the guide, Yang said.

While the online guide for Spring 1996 will contain only the basic and traditional information, Yang said, students may eventually be able to sort the information by course, a specific professor or teaching assistant, or as it relates to a certain degree, which is another benefit to the computerized version.

Questionnaires to change

The CEG is also eliminating the bubble forms that students used to rate various aspects of the courses they are taking on a scale from 1 to 7, said former CEG Editor in Chief Eva Moy G. The new forms will require a hand-written answer that will hopefully stress qualitative analyses.

The new forms will also incorporate questions on the standard comment sheets which accompanied the bubble form, with distinct, specialized evaluations for technical, humanities, laboratory, and foreign language classes.

Currently, students "concentrate on the teacher rather than the content of the course," and the new forms might evoke more thoughtful criticism, Moy said.

Additionally, eliminating and combining the bubble forms with the standard comment form into one will mean "less hassle and less work" for staff, reducing the amount of money spent on labor, she said.

While the modifications are partly for financial reasons, "a lot of changes were things we wanted to do anyway" to improve the guide and upgrade from an obsolete computer system, Moy said.

The CEG sought student on the changes input by placing comment sheets in Lobby 7. About two-thirds of the students who commented felt that many of the statistics on the bubble forms were not meaningful, said another former editor in chief, Federico Bernal `97.

The Spring 1996 guide will still use information gathered from the old forms, but subsequent guides would use the new system, Bernal said.

CEG experiences lack of staff

Staff shortages have been a "chronic problem," Moy said. Some of the work is "very repetitive.... it's hard to find a large group of people who will do it."

As an incentive, writers and staff are paid $7 an hour, but it is still difficult to find people who "are committed to the entire process," Moy said.

"It's a problem in terms of logistics," Yang said. In many cases, editors are burdened with manually- intensive tasks that are outside their normal responsibilities, he said.

Despite the situation, "we can still meet the deadlines... everyone is putting in a lot of effort and time," Yang said.

Future staffing of the CEG still remains a problem, Bernal said.

Former editors act in an advisory capacity, and some of these editors will graduate soon, Bernal said. "We need more student participation especially from sophomores and freshmen."

Putting the CEG online may allow future guides to be made available before the usual pre-registration day release, Bernal said.

"If we get efficient writers... potentially, we would be able to have the guide out two or three months sooner," Bernal said.