Flexible P/NR student forum held

Students express favor for end-of-semester course evaluations

Student representative members of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) held a forum April 17 to discuss the CUP proposal of a flexible Pass/No Record grading policy starting with the Class of 2024 and gather student opinion on subject evaluations for this semester. The forum was moderated by Dheekshita Kumar ’20, Leslie Yan ’22, and Adedoyin Olateru-Olagbegi ’20. 

Kumar said the goals of the Flexible P/NR proposal are to ease transition to MIT, encourage exploration, and provide a safety net to students.

Kumar, Yan, and Olateru-Olagbegi responded to students’ concerns about the proposal.

Students raised concerns that the proposed policy may not adequately encourage exploration, as it will replace options such as Jr./Sr. P/D/F. 

Yan wrote in an email to The Tech that while academic exploration was not “necessarily a direct goal” of the Flexible P/NR policy, the policy acts as a safety net and could “encourage students to take risks with classes they might not have otherwise taken over fear of the grade they would receive, not unlike Sophomore Exploratory and Junior/Senior P/D/F.” Yan added that “the ability to use the 48 units essentially whenever and however” would add more flexibility.

Students also brought up the negative implications of a P as opposed to a letter grade, potential misuse of the policy, and the possibility that students will be overburdened taking an increased class load.

Kumar said at the forum that the proposal does not intend to encourage an increased class load and that advisors and upper-level students will play a role in guiding the Class of 2024’s academic choices.

“If approved, the CUP will monitor the impacts of the change continually over 5 years,” Kumar wrote in an email to The Tech. “If something is amiss, the committee would work to fix it immediately, not wait till the end of the 5 years ... CUP will be looking into how different policies interact and whether change is desired/necessary. This includes policies related to advising and drop date.”

The second part of the forum was a discussion on the subject evaluations for this semester.

“Faculty are also affected by the pandemic,” Kumar said. “Because the semester was split into an online part and in-person part, there’s a question around whether faculty members should be evaluated … but there will be some evaluation form, so the question is what that evaluation form will look like.”

Multiple students expressed favor for subject evaluations. “I firmly believe in doing an official course evaluation process,” Yiran He ’20 said. “This is how professors improve, and I think this is especially true if we do another round of Zoom University.”