Biology crowding is alleviated by lottery, additional offerings

Lander and Weinberg’s 7.012 enrolls hundreds fewer than two years ago

Two years after their introduction, the revised introductory biology classes and lottery system associated with the classes were marked as a success by MIT’s biology department administrators.

The 7.015 and 7.016 Introductory Biology classes were introduced in the fall of 2013 to alleviate the burden on 7.012, the first variant of introductory biology, taught by Professors Eric Lander and Robert Weinberg PhD ’64. Previously, 7.012 suffered from over-enrollment and crowded lecture halls. Over 800 students enrolled in the class in the fall of 2012.

The introduction of 7.015 and 7.016 redistributed the biology general institute requirement (GIR) student population. What’s more, the 7.012 class saw a general increase in the students enrolled. 451 students enrolled in 7.012 in the fall of 2013 and approximately 500 enrolled this semester, according to biology department undergraduate academic officer and associate professor, Dennis H. Kim.

Students who registered for 7.012 and 7.016 were again subject to a lottery that decided their final biology placement. According to Professor Kim, students sign up for their desired class and those students who enrolled after the class reached maximum capacity would be moved to a different class. “Everyone who registers up front has an equal chance of getting into their desired class,” said Kim. “At that point it’s completely random.”

According to Professor Kim, the results from last year indicated that the lottery and biology GIR expansion had fulfilled their purposes. He stated that the course evaluations from the biology classes in the 2013-14 school year were generally positive. According to MIT’s online subject evaluations, in the fall of 2013, 7.012 received an overall rating of 5.1 out of 7 and 7.016 received an overall rating of 5.2 out of 7.

Professor Kim emphasized the uniqueness of each biology GIR. “The positive course evaluations reinforce that all of our 7.01 offerings are terrific classes, but they are different flavors, different takes on the same subject,” stated Kim.

The 7.015 class, which is not being offered during this school year, features an advanced curriculum targeted at students with extensive backgrounds in biology, while 7.016 shares the same core curriculum as the other biology GIRs with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology.