The Class of 2017’s pass rate for the math and science General Institute Requirements (GIRs) was 97.2 percent last semester, an improvement over last year’s rate of 96.7 percent. Around 12.9 percent (144 students) of the Class of 2017 received at least one flag in a GIR, given to students who have a D or F in a class five weeks into the semester, and 86.8 percent (125 students) of those who received one or more flags passed their GIRs.
Julie B. Norman, the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, said that, in recent years, there has been a “remarkable improvement” in flag rates and rate of flagged students passing their classes, or recovery rate. Norman said that flag rates have seen a steady downward trend in the previous four academic years (2009 – 2010 to 2012 – 2013), with an average student flag rate of 19.7 percent and average recovery rate of 79.3 percent.
This year, 7.012 had the highest GIR flag rate at 14.6 percent. In spite of this, 97.9 percent of registered students ended up passing the class. In contrast, Norman noted that “about 25 percent of the class was flagged” in Fall 2000, with a recovery rate of 52 percent.
Norman said that work with advisors and outreach to students, particularly those who received multiple flags, is the reason for the improvement. “Because the transition from high school to MIT can be challenging, some students struggle academically,” said Julie, “What is important is the action the student takes between being flagged and the end of the term.”
The Dean of Undergraduate Education, the Office of Minority Education, the MIT learning communities such as Concourse, and academic advisors work together to help flagged students. Norman added, “This sustained collaborative effort has helped increase awareness of resources for students.”
When a student is flagged, both student and advisor receive an email from the Dean of Undergraduate Education that recommends resources such as tutoring, S^3, sites for health or medical issues, and the Office of Minority Education.
Donna Friedman, the Associate Dean for Advising and Academic Programming, also sends a message to students who receive more than one flag. “For multi-flagged students, we ask freshmen to fill out a self-assessment and recovery form which they submit to me and their advisor,” said Friedman in an email to The Tech.
“The primary purpose is to connect the student to the adviser to understand what is impeding progress,” said Norman. “Perhaps the student is struggling with study issues and time management, or is homesick.”
Students with fifth week flags were also invited to join the Seminar XL/Limited Edition (LE), a structured study group program that organizes study groups in the evening beginning six weeks into the term and provides, according to their website, “a supportive venue for collective conceptual problem solving”.
These subject-specific groups are led by trained upperclassmen or graduate students who work through problems from subjects that are difficult for students. Typically, four to five students are in each study group with one upperclassman or graduate student. Each seminar is a three-unit class. Thus, students may take up to two seminars during the first semester.
Freshmen can also access resources regarding fifth week flags online at: http://web.mit.edu/firstyear/2017/rightnow/flags.html.