CUE Promotes Online Resources

The Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) reported on progress in making coursepacks less expensive, agreed to attempt to allow current freshmen to enroll directly into new life science concentrations, and considered ways to preserve the anonymity of students who fill out CUE evaluations in its monthly meeting on Friday.

Members of the committee said that in response to an Undergraduate Council (UC) position paper presented in February, the staff of the Core Office, library liaisons, and graduate students in each department will now work with professors to make better use of electronic resources. In the past, students have paid twice for the copyright to some course materials, once in their termbills to pay for the library’s access to electronic resources, and once when they purchase a course pack, which can carry a hefty price tag.

Next semester, materials in the Ec 10 sourcebook will be linked to online, where they are available to students at no additional charge. The sourcebook, which was singled out in the UC’s report, costs $60.

UC Student Affairs Committee Chair Ryan A. Petersen ’08 called the response from the administration “pretty strong,” but said he still has concerns about the implementation of the cost-cutting initiative.

The members of the committee also discussed allowing freshmen to enroll directly into the four new life sciences concentrations—organismic and evolutionary biology, human evolutionary biology, neurobiology, and chemical and physical biology—when they turn in their plans of study in early May. That may not be possible, however, because requirements for the new concentrations have not been finalized.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee discussed measures to ensure students remain anonymous in the CUE evaluation process. Judith L. Ryan, the Weary professor of German and comparative literature, said that, in general, professors do not try to match a student with a CUE evaluation. However, sometimes professors do know which student has filled out an evaluation.

Members of the committee spoke favorably about a plan to hide demographic information that students volunteer from the professors of small courses, which would prevent professors from identifying which student wrote each evaluation.

—Staff writer Alex M. McLeese can be reached at amcleese@fas.harvard.edu.