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Ad Board Cracks Down on Simultaneous Enrollment

By Meg P. Bernhard, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: September 8, 2014, at 5:48 p.m.

The Administrative Board is tightening regulations regarding enrollment in classes that meet at the same time. Beginning this semester, the Ad Board will no longer allow students to watch video-taped lectures in place of class and will only grant petitions for simultaneous enrollment to students who are receiving direct instruction from their professors outside of class or those who are enrolled in Computer Science 50.

The policy change, which was discussed at a faculty meeting in April and supported by the standing committee on Education Policy, comes after a five-year uptick in petitions for simultaneous enrollment.  Last semester, the Ad Board granted 200 such petitions, according to Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, compared to 64 in the 2008-2009 school year.

The Faculty Handbook requires that “direct and personal compensatory instruction” for simultaneous enrollment, but only recently has the Ad Board refused to recognize videotaped lectures as a stand-in for class time.

Under the new rules, with the exception of Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I,” students may only enroll in courses whose times overlap if professors meet with them for the same amount of time they would miss in the classroom, or if they miss no more than one-third of lecture time and the missed time is available on videotape.

Harris sent an email to instructors in late August notifying them of the change, according to former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68.

“Reading Dean Harris’s letter, it sounds like without changing the language in the handbook, the Ad Board is just going to reinterpret and enforce differently simultaneous enrollment,” Lewis said.

Although Lewis said he will not permit simultaneous enrollment in his computer science courses, he still thinks that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences should collect more data to demonstrate that simultaneous enrollment has a detrimental effect on students.

“A lot of us are working at trying to improve how we use the classroom to motivate students to come to class and engage,” Lewis said. “[But] I wish that if this simultaneous enrollment procedure were going to be changed, we had some data that made the case that it needed to be changed.”

Several House deans announced the change over their House's email lists. In one such email, Adams House Dean Adam Muri-Rosenthal noted that the “innovative pedagogies” of the introductory computer science course do not limit it to a particular time slot.

David J. Malan ’99, the professor of Computer Science 50, said that he was not involved in the Ad Board’s decision to exclude his course, aside from writing letters on behalf of students who wished to simultaneously enroll in the course and another.

“I'm certainly pleased that students who wish to take CS50 will face fewer impediments when it comes to [simultaneously enrolling] because I think it’s been an impediment or a discouragement to students who have not been able to take CS50 and more generally other introductory courses,” Malan said.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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