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Harvard’s flagship computer science course is expanding its real estate.
Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I,” the College’s extremely popular and notoriously carnival-like introductory computer science course, will use part of the fourth floor of the Harvard Student Agencies building to hold additional office hours during the fall semester.
In addition to the course’s typical nighttime office hours, which draw hundreds of students—and occasional complaints of disruption—to Widener Library and Northwest Labs, HSA will host near round-the-clock tutoring during weekdays and weekends.
The space-sharing arrangement is currently just for this fall, according to HSA president Stephen W. Xi ’17, but if this trial goes well there is the potential the arrangement may continue. Xi declined to comment on the specific nature of the deal.
The move by CS50, the College’s second-largest course this semester with 636 enrolled undergraduates, to expand into the HSA building at 67 Mount Auburn St. was motivated by a desire to increase the availability of tutoring during the day, without the constraint of dining hall and library schedules.
“Among our goals for this fall was to provide students in CS50 with all the more opportunities for one-on-one help, particularly between classes,” course instructor David J. Malan ’99 wrote in an email. “We reached out to HSA… and happily the stars aligned.”
From the perspective of Xi, allowing CS50 to use HSA’s building was a logical way for the student-run business to fill an open space and further collaborate with Malan, who has been an HSA board member since this February.
“Naturally the space opened up and it just made sense because it was a central location, students can stop by in between classes, and it was a natural fit,” Xi said.
Former CS50 student Tomislav F. Fran Zabcic-Matic ’19 recalled attending crowded office hours in Annenberg Hall, and said “there were far too many students per [teaching fellow].”
“People have their hands raised for ages and ages and nothing really happens sometimes. Unless a TF notices you, tough luck,” Fran Zabcic-Matic said. He added the success of the expansion would depend on increasing the availability of TF assistance to students.
Ted N. Zhu ’19, who took CS50 last year and is now a course assistant for the class, described the weekday office hours as “too crowded,” and said the expansion “really alleviates the pressure on those major office hours, because [students] can come by HSA instead of coming in crying in Widener.”
The change is already being greeted positively by some students. Amy E. Morrisett ’19, currently enrolled in the course, said the office hours held in HSA will be “convenient” and that she will feel less uncomfortable seeking help.
“I generally feel uncomfortable going to office hours for any class because I feel like I’m bothering someone,” Morrisett said. “But because they’re happening at so many different times, I won’t feel awkward about getting help.”
—Staff writer Christina N. Neckermann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Madeleine A. Granovetter can be reached at email@example.com.
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