Senior Forms `Bible' Study Group on 'Net

Forty Participants Compile Answers to IDs

When Anthony C. Hsieh '95 decided to hold a study group this week in preparation for the final examination in Literature and Arts C-37, "The Bible and Its Interpretation," he chose the most convenient location he could think of for it--cyberspace.

Hsieh said he was motivated to start a study group over the Internet after receiving a long list of 90 identification-style questions that students in the class were supposed to answer as part of their pre-exam preparation.

"If we get enough people on the 'Net together, then each person will only have to do a few identifications," Hsieh wrote in his message, which he posted on the harvard.general news group.

Participants were asked to sign up for the study group over e-mail. Hsieh offered to do all the legwork: assigning and compiling completed identifications and e-mailing the final list to each member of the group.

"[The teaching fellows] pretty much expect people to form study groups and divide up the work," Hsieh explained.


According to Hsieh, Sunday is the deadline for the completion of identifications.

Although only 40 out of the more than 1200 enrolled in the course responded, many more applauded the idea. Several students who expressed interest said they had not been aware of the electronic study group.

"If I had known about it, I would have been all over that," said Carsten M. Reichel '98.

Some students, however, said they did not join the group out of concern that participating might somehow violate Harvard's rules of academic honesty.

But administrators who were interviewed yesterday said that there is no college-wide policy on study groups.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said that the appropriateness of the methods of study chosen by students are determined on a course-by- course basis.

"It depends on the terms which are appropriateto the study of the course," Jewett said. "It'shard to make an absolute generalization."

Several teaching fellows in the class said thatthey thought the group's method of study waspermissible.

"I don't see anything wrong with electronicstudy groups," said teaching fellow Thomas L.Leclerc. "I wouldn't see anything differentbetween this and students getting together in aroom and working together."

The instructor for the class, Starr Professorof Hebrew Literature James L. Kugel '75, is inIsrael now and was unavailable for comment.

Students said they saw this group as anindication of things to come.

"I think some people who use harvard.generalmight learn from this in the future," saidNathaniel A. Malka '98, a participant in thegroup.

But Malka also highlighted some difficultieswith this type of study group.

"Not all classes give out ID's like the Bibleand the readership of harvard.general is somewhatlimited," he said