Harnessing a “meritocracy of great ideas”

Published in MIT News on November 30, 2017, by Elizabeth Durant, Office of the Vice Chancellor

Using a broad design approach, students are developing and evaluating changes to the first-year undergraduate experience.

A team of 25 students, faculty, and staff from across the Institute has been working to develop a new design subject with an ambitious goal: to propose and rigorously evaluate potential new curriculum, pedagogies, and policies to advance the educational experience of first-year undergraduate students at MIT.

The subject, Designing the First Year at MIT, will be offered in spring 2018 for MIT undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Harvard University graduate students. “The class will be tasked with leading a community-based design effort that conceptualizes the first year experience (FYE) as a complex system,” says Ian A. Waitz, vice chancellor of the Institute. “It’s a neat opportunity to shape education at MIT, while learning about design methodologies and applying them to a very challenging problem. The subject is being developed and taught by faculty and staff from all five schools. That may be a first.”

The idea bubbled up during conversations last spring between Waitz (then dean of the School of Engineering) and a group of students from the MIT Undergraduate Association (UA). Both he and the students share an interest in improving the undergraduate learning experience...

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