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ISP, ESG, and Concourse Add Variety to MIT Freshman Year

By Douglas E.Heimburger
Editor in Chief

As freshmen finalize their residence selection today, they also have their first opportunity to look at alternatives to mainstream lectures.

Concourse, the Experimental Studies Group, and the Integrated Studies Program all provide more personalized learning experiences than the standard freshman classes.

The programs are designed to offer freshmen the opportunity to work in small groups, to explore new ways of learning, and to take refuge from the pressure of the large classroom setting.

This year, two of the programs moved their classrooms and facilities from Building 20 to new quarters in Building 16. ESGremains in Building 24.

Freshmen who are interested in the programs can visit each at their open houses or luncheons today.


Concourse offers its own versions of freshmen classes for its 64 students. In the fall, Concourse offers Physics I(8.01), Calculus I(18.01), Calculus II(18.02), Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry(3.091), and Introduction to Psychology (9.00).

In the fall, Concourse students must take at least three courses within the program, said Cheryl A. Butters, who coordinates the program.

The students in Concourse are pushed "a little bit harder than they are pushed in the mainstream," Butters said.

Visiting Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '82 will again teach Concourse 9.00 this year. Wolfe was an extremely popular lecturer in the mainstream 9.00 for fourteen years.

Students inConcourse attend classes for about three hours per day, generally in the morning. The schedule leaves significant time for activities. "In the past, we've had an awful lot of students involved in student government,"Butters said.

Today, Concourse will hold an open house in Room 16-136 from noon until 3 p.m. Interested students must attend an orientation in the same room on Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Experimental Studies Group

ESGoffers the freshman core subjects and some sophomore subjects in small classes of two to five students, said Holly B. Sweet, administrator of the program.

The classes are geared for those who are "self-motivated,"Sweet said. Amajority of the classes, 70 percent, are taught by professors, lecturers, and graduate students, while the remaining 30 percent are taught by undergraduate assistants who were in the program, she said.

The backgrounds of the students in the program varies widely, Sweet said. Nonetheless, the program expects those in the group to "ask questions and really interact, not sit there in the back row of the lecture hall."

Unlike the other freshman programs,ESGallows freshmen to complete classes at their own pace, sometimes starting new classes in the middle of the term. Others choose to spread out their class length in order to more fully understand the subject, Sweet said.

ESGexpects students to take all their science and math courses within the program. The program also offers a humanities option.

Students in ESGtend to socialize extensively with one another. The program has a weekly luncheon as well as a movie series. Additionally, it has study sessions twice per week for students with home-made food.

Today, ESGwill hold an open house in Room 24-612 from noon until 3 p.m. Interested students must attend an orientation seminar and apply to the program before 4 p.m. tomorrow. If the 50 open spaces in the program are filled, a lottery will be used to select students, Sweet said.

Integrated Studies Program

ISP features a hands-on approach to learning, said Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology Arthur Steinberg, director of the program.

ISP is centered aroundan extensive hands-on teaching program via a humanities, arts, and social sciences distributioncourse "that deals with technologies in different cultures,"Steinberg said.

Labs within the HASS-Dsubject have historically included experiments in blacksmithing, weaving, and the design of clocks, while the subject includes discussions on the historical and societal impact of advances in science and technology.

That HASS-D also features a "very intensive writing section,"Steinberg added, and students who earn a B or better in the class pass Phase I of the Writing Requirement.

Unlike the other freshman programs, students in ISPtake mainstream freshman lectures, although their recitations are generally separate from the main curriculum. Freshman are urged to take hands-on classes such as the experimental version of Physics I (8.01X), for example.

ISP may not be the best program for students with extensive advanced placement credit, Steinberg said, although "with one or two classes it doesn't matter."

Overall, the program is "geared to helping students if they want help and leaving them alone if they want to be left alone,"Steinberg said.

ISPaccepts students on a first come, first served basis up to its limit of 40 students per term, Steinberg added.

Today, ISP will be having a luncheon for freshmen in Room 16-177 from noon until 1:30 p.m. Afterwards, it will be holding its annual egg drop off the Green Building. Interested students must file ISPregistration forms by 5 p.m. tomorrow in Room 16-177.