The EC Course Review Makes Selecting Classes Easier

Last year when Yale Levin (OC), Stephen Moret (OC), and I volunteered to work with Harbus Online to improve the EC course selection process we had no idea what impact this project would have on our class.

The more we talked with second years, the more we realized that selecting EC classes had been a very stressful and unsatisfactory process for them. In her February 2000 article “EC Course Selection-A Plea for Kaizen” Karen Baldeschwieler (class of 2000) wrote:

“Determined to be an informed citizen, I cracked the green booklet of course descriptions. That was somewhat more helpful, as it gave a general sense of what each course would cover // However, since I hadn’t learned most of those things yet, I didn’t really know whether I would like them! … I asked one of my professors, and she said to check out the student ratings.

Ratings! Eagerly, I thumbed through the ratings handout. Although one or two professors received really high ratings, for the most part I was back where I’d started. The ratings were tightly clustered, so almost every professor received between 5.3 and 5.7 on a scale of 1 to 7. What should I make of these statistically insignificant differences?
Completely confused, I threw up my hands and launched into a week-long bout of procrastination and pouting.”

Not surprisingly over 80% of second year students who responded to a Harbus survey were in favor of creating another source of information for selecting EC classes: a website which would aggregate what EC students had to say about the classes they attended.

Don’t get me wrong, the problem was not the lack of information. In fact, the administration provided a lot of great sources: a booklet and website with a description of each class’s curriculum, another booklet with ratings of each class and professor, and even faculty presentations. Besides, there were other sources like club presentations or simply talking to second year students or your professors.

However, none of these sources gave a complete picture of what each class would be like. Course content is only one determinant in selecting a class replica watches, but what students really care about is the fit with their interests and preferred method of learning. Things like the amount of reading, guest speakers, numbers vs. theory focus, and applicability to a particular career do matter. By reading the opinions of many EC students about a particular class it is much easier to understand whether that class would be a good fit. What someone may hate like reading three chapters of a legal textbook per class, someone else may find to be exactly what he/she needs to master. That’s exactly why I took Prof. Constance E. Bagley’s “Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship”- I wanted that reading. Believe me, I loved every minute of that class, but I understand that you may not.

In the spring of 2000 our team launched the EC Course Review by sending a poll to collect comments from class of 2000 students. We asked them to answer the following question: “What would you say to a first year student who was considering taking this course?”

The response to our initiative was overwhelming. Despite our initial technical difficulties, 480 second year students responded to our poll which offered no benefit whatsoever to them. All of those 480 students just wanted to help first years!

The EC Course Review Website was launched a couple of weeks later thanks to the amazing programming effort of Harbus Online Tech. Rep. Marcelo Guinea (OE) and support from Harbus Online Editor Masi Denison (OC).

The site turned out to be of great help to the class of 2001. Our survey indicates that 94% of the class of 2001 students used the website and 77% found it to be very useful in their course selection process. One of the most common suggestions for improving the website was to increase the number of EC students who answer the poll.

Class of 2001, now it is up to you to make the EC Course Review website happen again! The poll collecting your comments is about to close, so this is your last chance to return the favor and help first years. If you used the EC Course Website at least once last year, now is the time for you to pay it back! //