The Inside Scoop on DUE (January 2015)
Each month during the academic year, the Undergraduate Student Digest and the Graduate Student Digest feature questions submitted by students, along with answers from the appropriate MIT faculty or staff. These questions, compiled into a "Students Are Asking" (SAA) section, resonate strongly with students; SAA is consistently the most clicked-on section of each Digest. In addition to offering a window into what’s on MIT students’ minds, the questions are often very timely and highlight issues that may be of interest to staff. Here’s a sampling of a few recent questions:
- What are DSL’s plans for its new online education initiative through MITx? (October 2014)
- How important are teaching skills in the faculty hiring process? (November 2014)
- I have been hearing a lot about “yes means yes” related to the prevention of sexual assault. What does this mean and where can I learn more about it? (December 2014)
- What are the plans for improving MIT Open CourseWare? (January 2015)
Staff who work closely with students, or who are just curious to get a sense of what students are thinking about, can keep abreast of “Students Are Asking” by subscribing to either or both Digests. The Digests, produced by the student communications team (DUE, DSL, ODGE, and the Chancellor's office), are sent monthly to all enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, and highlight events, opportunities, and resources for students. To sign up, click on the “Subscribe” button in the left-hand menu bar on the Undergraduate Digest and/or the Graduate Digest.
During the past four years, our community has experienced a transformation of MIT’s Student Information Systems (SIS). Antiquated, paper-based processes have been replaced by streamlined, digitized processes that have improved the user experience for faculty, students, and staff while providing better support for MIT’s educational priorities. This progress has been guided by the 2011-2014 Education Systems Roadmap.
The Roadmap was the outcome of a multi-year, user-focused analysis of MIT’s aging SIS, which identified five strategic priorities for modernizing the systems: digitize paper-based processes; enrich advising support; create a seamless user experience; ensure technical stabilization; and fulfill mandated changes. Projects were identified by aligning student, faculty, and staff needs, expectations, and pain points with these priorities. The resulting portfolio of projects covered a broad spectrum of systems that support the student life cycle.
The Roadmap was approved in September 2010 by the IT Governance Committee and an aggressive timeline has yielded significant benefits across the community of SIS users. Roadmap projects focused on digitization have had the most visible impact. The new systems have eliminated the need to physically manage and track paper...
On Saturday, 625 students were offered early-action undergraduate admission to MIT’s Class of 2019. The 625 admitted students represent a 9.6 percent admit rate, making this one of the most competitive years ever.
MIT’s early-action program is nonrestrictive and nonbinding; the Institute is conservative in the number of students it admits early.
“Every year we have more qualified applicants, and it makes our job to select among them extremely difficult,” says MIT Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill. “I’m proud to say we’ve admitted another exceptional group of students.”
Those offered admission to the Class of 2019 are united by their exemplary academic records, character, and match with MIT’s mission. Almost one-third have won national or international academic distinctions.
Admitted students come from 49 states and from diverse backgrounds: Nearly a third of the class identifies as underrepresented students of color, and 16 percent will, upon graduation, become the first generation in their family with a college degree...
New system provides flexibility for timetabling, student scheduling, final-exam scheduling, and event scheduling at the Institute.
With the September publication of MIT's fall 2014 final-exam schedule, the first phase of the project to implement a new scheduling system – UniTime, an open-source system developed by Purdue University – was successfully completed. This complex project was designed to replace aging technology, originally developed in the late 1960s, and to substantially expand the functionality and flexibility of our scheduling processes. The system supports four components: timetabling, or the process of generating a class schedule for each term; student scheduling; final-exam scheduling; and event scheduling, which supports community use of classrooms that are managed by the Office of the Registrar.
The focus of the first phase of the project was to eliminate our dependence on a dated algorithm for classroom scheduling and to meet emerging pedagogical needs. More specifically, it:
- allows us to define different instructional periods – a critical feature in terms of accurately scheduling subjects that are taught for less than a full term. With modularity becoming more prevalent in the curriculum, our ability to support faculty innovation in the delivery of subject content has been greatly enhanced by the new system.
- integrates scheduling with the curricular-review process, thereby substantially improving the accuracy of the Online Subject Listing and Schedule...
DUE staff gathered on January 15 at the Stata Center to celebrate the new year with an afternoon of conversation, delicious food, and camaraderie. Many thanks to Dean Freeman for hosting the event, and to Lisa Stagnone for orchestrating it with panache!
The following article was submitted to the Faculty Newsletter by the MIT chapter of Active Minds, a student-led initiative focused on promoting better health and wellness, stress relief, and health education through peer-to-peer outreach.
You see MIT as an enriching environment for students to grow in unique and exciting ways – and in many respects, you’re correct. After all, MIT students find themselves amidst the most influential scientists, innovators, and leaders of today and tomorrow, all in an institution known for its world-class education. However, as the typical onset age of mental illness is between 18 and 24, and one-in-four students lives with some form of diagnosable mental illness, many students struggle with mental health at some point while at MIT. Most do so in silence.
Mental illnesses, unlike most other illnesses, are still shamed and stigmatized, discouraging those living with mental illness from getting help or speaking out about their struggle. In fact, as many as two-thirds of students who could benefit from professional help don’t get it. And, although mental illnesses can be extremely difficult to live with, many of those struggling with them manage to nearly completely hide their struggles from those around them – even their closest friends and family. Stanford University refers to this concept as “duck syndrome,” likening the illusion students create of effortless success, despite actually feeling distraught or overwhelmed, to the illusion ducks create of peacefully gliding on a pond while actually paddling frantically. When nobody appears to be suffering from a mental illness – as relatively few cases of mental illness are readily apparent – it can pressure others to maintain a facade of composure to the detriment of their well-being...
MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) has created 47 STEM Concept Videos to help students connect the concepts they learn in introductory STEM courses to concrete, real-world problems. Students can watch the videos to prepare for class or review a concept for an exam. Instructors can use them to supplement classroom instruction, using snippets or the entire video, most of which are under 15 minutes. Throughout the videos, viewers are prompted to pause to actively engage with the material — to predict the result of demonstrations, engage in a discussion of concepts, or perform activities tied to the video’s intended learning outcomes.
Some examples of questions that the videos pose include:
- Why is the concept of divergence useful to researchers designing helmets to protect soldiers from the shockwaves of explosions?
- What is the connection between martial arts and torque?
- How can the concept of latent heat be used to design more energy-efficient buildings?
The videos utilize animations, visualizations, demonstrations, and examples from a variety of engineering and science disciplines...
This fall, students and instructors were introduced to a new enrollment process for communication-intensive humanities, arts, and social sciences (CI-H) subjects, which are part of the undergraduate Communication Requirement. CI-H subjects focus on the development of oral and written communication skills, and include a subset, CI-HW subjects, that focus specifically on the writing process. Each section is capped at 18 or 25 students to provide more opportunities for student interaction with their instructor and classmates and to facilitate communication instruction.
In the past, enrollments in many CI-H subjects were managed through the HASS-D lottery. Students who were not scheduled into a subject via the lottery resorted to finding openings “on foot” by attending classes and asking instructors for permission to add the subjects. This could be stressful for students, especially freshmen, since they had no insight into whether they had any chance of being offered a spot. It also created a burden on instructors who had to manage these requests individually, both responding to add/drop requests and attempting to enforce enrollment caps. As a result, class lists could not be finalized for several class meetings. With the end of the HASS-D lottery (due to the phase-out of HASS-D subjects), new enrollment tools were needed for CI-H subjects, which provided an opportunity to address some of these concerns...
Editors Note: Colleagues who know of students who are interested in applying for scholarships like the Churchill, Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, and Fulbright, should tell these students to contact Assistant Director of Distinguished Fellowships Kim Benard at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Distinguished Fellowships website.
Senior is the 12th MIT student to win the honor, will pursue graduate studies at Cambridge.
Daniel Kang, an MIT senior from Fairfax, Va., has won a prestigious Churchill Scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.
Kang is the 12th MIT student to win the Churchill Scholarship since its establishment by the Winston Churchill Foundation in 1963.
Kang is expected to graduate from MIT this spring with an SB and MEng in computer science and mathematics. As a Churchill Scholar, he pursue a master's degree in mathematical sciences at Cambridge. When he returns to the U.S., Kang plans to earn a PhD in machine learning and computational biology before pursuing a career as an academic researcher.
Kang received a Goldwater Scholarship last year in recognition of his academic and research accomplishments. Since 2013, Kang has conducted research on applied machine-learning techniques to study epigenetics in the laboratory of David Gifford, a professor of computer science and engineering at MIT.
“Daniel is an amazingly talented undergraduate who, as part of his [research], devised an ingenious model of human genome accessibility that has been validated by our biology collaborators,” Gifford says...
MIT Offers New Senior Care Planning Benefit
Are you caring for a senior family member? A new resource is available to current benefits-eligible MIT employees and postdoctoral fellows. The Senior Care Planning Benefit, offered through our partners at Care.com, includes the following services at no cost:
- in-depth phone consultations with licensed geriatric social worker
- in-person consultations with a care advisor on the Care.com team
- monthly, lunchtime senior-caregiver support groups
Institute Diversity Summit 2015
The 2015 Diversity Summit continues to build upon our tradition of educating our community and providing opportunities to discuss this important topic in a candid and thought-provoking manner. The summit is open to the entire MIT community and takes place over two days. The first session was held on January 29, but there's still time to register for the second session, Thursday, February 12, 1 - 5 pm. The program features a panel discussion of MIT senior leadership, a keynote address, and workshops.
Please visit the Institute Diversity Summit 2015 website for more information and to register.
DUE's 2015 Infinite Mile Program
The Infinite Mile Awards Program provides an opportunity to formally recognize the outstanding achievements of our peers through an annual nomination and selection process. Nominations for the 2015 Infinite Mile Award Program will be open from February 9 - March 27. Only nominations submitted by the March 28 deadline will be considered in the upcoming program year. Nominations must be made using the DUE Nomination Form and meet the award criteria.
Several new staff joined DUE between November 6, 2014 - January 20, 2015.
Rachel Kay, Director of Admissions Research & Analysis
Global Education & Career Development
Aleshia Carlsen-Bryan, Assistant Director, Prehealth Evaluation
Christopher Bourget, Technical Instructor
Emily Hannenberg, Technical Instructor