Over 500 fewer enrollments in science GIRs this fall

Registration data reveals impact of exploratory P/NR policy

Preliminary registration data following the implementation of the Pass/No Record experiment for the Class of 2022 shows significant changes, according to Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz in an interview with The Tech. Compared to last year, there were over 500 fewer enrollments in the core Science, Mathematics, and Engineering (SME) GIRs, especially in biology and chemistry.

The number of students taking three or four SME GIRs in their first semester decreased from 76 percent in 2017 to 45 percent this fall, according to class registration data as of Sept. 16. Instead, students took more “exploratory courses,” with the number of unique classes that first-years registered for increasing by 10 percent.

In the 2018 Orientation Survey sent out by the Office of the Vice Chancellor, the number of students who said it was “very important” that a subject fulfilled requirements dropped, whereas the number of students marking “a chance to explore a potential department in which to major,” “interesting material,” and “chance to learn something new” as very important increased, both relative to last year.

The OVC will compile a more extensive set of comparisons after add date, according to Waitz.

These data points are the result of an experiment led by the OVC and approved by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in July. As part of it, students in the Class of 2022 are eligible to designate up to three additional SME GIRs to be graded as P/NR after their first semester.

“I decided not to take any GIRs this semester and instead take some computer science classes to try and see if I would be interested in that,” Daniel Sun ’22 said in an interview with The Tech. Sun is currently a Course 18 considering Course 6 as well.

“Since I can get GIR classes on P/NR later, I chose not to take any GIRs this semester so I can get more P/NR classes overall,” Akshaj Kadaveru ’22 said in an interview with The Tech. “Also, I can enjoy my first semester more.”

In addition to the new GIR policy, Waitz revealed other developments the OVC is working on, such as plans to reform advising so that students get a network of advisors instead of one first-year advisor in a random major, as well as a shorter, IAP version of the Designing the First Year class offered last fall.