Oversubscribed Biology Class Will Spill Into 4-370

Students in 7.013 Will Fill MIT’s Largest Lecture Hall

Although 659 people have preregistered for Introductory Biology (7.013), only 566 seats are available in the 26-100 lecture hall where the subject will be taught. Students who cannot fit in 26-100 will still be able to see the lecture via a live video stream shown in 4-370. A course instructor and teaching assistants will be in the overflow room to answer students’ questions.

Tyler E. Jacks, one of the two lecturers for 7.013, said that he has taught the subject five or six times before, and that in the past it has attracted about 500 students.

One cause of the subject’s unusual popularity may be that two other introductory biology classes, 7.014 and 7.015, will not be offered this spring. 7.014 is usually offered every semester, but it is not being taught in 2007–2008. The Biology Department also announced in November 2007 that 7.015 would not be taught in the spring.

Another factor which may explain the increased enrollment in 7.013 is that the Department of Biology no longer gives credit for 7.012 to students who scored a 5 on the Advanced Placement Biology exam. The General Institute Requirements, MIT’s core curriculum, require a student to have credit for any one of the introductory biology classes 7.012, 7.013, 7.014, or 7.015.

About one-fourth of the Class of 2009 received AP credit that satisfied the GIR biology requirement. The Class of 2011 was the first which did not receive AP credit, although about sixteen members of the class received biology credit last fall by taking an Advanced Standing Exam.

Jacks said that about 75 percent of those enrolled in the subject are freshmen. Not all students come to the class well prepared, Jacks said; while many students have an extensive biology background, others are seeing the material for the first time in years.

“The importance of biology in everyday life makes this an important course,” said Jacks. He said the subject will prepare students to understand new developments in biology: “Stem cells, cloning, recombinant DNA technology, the genome revolution — all of these things that you read about in the newspaper every day.”

Jacks said that with two lecturers, two course instructors, and about a dozen teaching assistants, the subject should be ready to handle the extra students.

“It’s gonna’ be historic, but I think we’ll do fine,” he said.