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Course Evaluation Guide Resurrected on World Wide Web

By Stuart Jackson

The spring 1997 Course Evaluation Guide is currently available on the World Wide Web. A paper version of the guide will be available before Registration Day in the fall. The guide has not been available since sincethe fall of 1995.

The online CEG can be found at It includes evaluations of courses, lecturers, and teaching assistants dating from fall 1994 to fall 1996 in order to make up for the missed semesters when the guide did not publish.

In addition, the guide which evaluates spring '97 classes will be produced over the summer. "The CEG is most certainly here to stay," said Christopher D. Beland, an editor for the guide.

The guides from 1991 to 1994 were produced at "great personal expense," said Eva Moy G, a former editor. Moy pointed to "lack of staff, difficulty coordinating across academic departments, and lack of financial support" as "reasons for the CEG dying in 1996." The guide began experiencing problems in the fall of 1994, leading to its eventual absence in 1996.

The CEG was not published last spring because "it was just too much work for a few students who were full-time students," said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Margaret S. Enders.

Issuing a web-based version of the guide obviates the cost of producing thousands of paper copies and has aided in the guide's return.

Lee aids in CEG revival

The CEG is published by the Undergraduate Association, with extensive cooperation from MIT departments and the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs. Reviving the guide was the main campaign promise of Undergraduate Association President Richard Y. Lee '97. "The guide finally received the support and attention it needed from individuals such as Richard Lee," Moy said.

Enders was asked to look into reviving the CEG because "faculty and staff are as interested in the results as students," she said.

The CEG Discovery Team, a committee made up of faculty, staff, and students, has issued a report aimed at changing the method by which the CEG is published. The recommendations of the committee are designed to insure that the CEG will be published every semester and will fulfill its purpose.

"The basic mission of the student guide has been to provide fellow undergraduates with information about subjects and faculty, information that might be useful in deciding what subjects to take and which instructors to choose," said the CEG Discovery Team's Teacher and Subject Evaluation Discovery Report.

According to the report, the CEG Discovery Team hopes to "design a smooth and consistent process that will guarantee an evaluation every semester, and will not be an undue burden for any participating group."

Report delegates responsibilities

The report recommends a clear distinction between responsibilities of the administration and those of the UA. "The Institute is re-engineering the way evaluations are given," Beland said.

According to the report, printing the forms, distributing them to the departments, gathering the results, and distributing them will now be the responsibility of the administration. Students will edit and publish the material.

Under the previous policy, the CEG "was an entity run by students with some Institute funding," Enders said. Currently, the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs handles the subject evaluations, outsources them for data analysis, and then gives the data to the students to be published in the guide.

The report calls on the Institute to fund the CEG each year. It estimates that $17,000 will be necessary for initial implementation of the software to be used in the future. A further $3,000 will be necessary annually "for recurring costs per evaluation. These costs do not include staff payroll and the cost of producing the guide itself," said the report. Beland said that "the printed version of the guide will also carry paid advertisements."

The guide will only be available within MIT. Beland said that "since the evaluation is an internal MIT process, it's official policy that the information be released to MIT-affiliated individuals and organizations only."

The CEG was first published in 1981. Over its 15-year history it varied in size and quality, but was published once or twice every year.