Comments taken from 2010-2011 freshman evaluations of ESG –why ESG worked for me
The following comments are excerpted from the 2010-2011 freshman end-of-term evaluations of ESG. These comments help illustrate the student perspective of ESG and discuss why the program worked for them.
Close staff-student interaction
"I thought all of the ESG classes had great instruction. I really liked the fact that our professors were so available, and their offices were close by so we could seek them out if we were confused about course material or problem sets. Because of the awesome teaching, I felt a lot more committed to classes in ESG than to mainstream classes; I attended every class in ESG, only missing each once or twice due to sleep deprivation. ESG taught me the importance of sleeping enough; I had to attend most classes every day, and I had to stay awake, or I would miss out on a great class."
"In terms of the social aspects of ESG, I really liked coming in on weekends to do problem sets and fun experiments with classmates, and I loved it when Dave [Custer, ESG Humanities teaching staff] baked cookies. I liked cooking Friday lunch, and also cooking random food like rice, soup, and pasta for people late at night in ESG because it's almost as easy to cook for 5 people as for one. I liked sleeping/hanging out with people on the beanbag and couches, and I liked being able to interact with my professors like human beings…I really love ESG, and I think it provides a great environment where people who would normally be hosed with classes can do fun, instructive experiments and make presentations, and get credit for it."
"I think that ESG definitely played a huge role in making the spring semester more enjoyable than the fall semester. The small class size fit me well as I was able to ask questions during class if I didn't understand a concept. I also like it that in ESG faculty and students get to know each other rather well. I think one of the biggest difference between ESG and mainstream classes for me is that in ESG the professors really do want you, as an individual, to understand the material whereas in mainstream the professors care less about individual students. That doesn't mean that they're to blame for that. But in an environment of several hundred students it's simply impossible for professors to think of the student body as more than just a number."
ESG motivated me to do well
"In ESG classes I had a lot more motivation to work hard and do well than in mainstream classes. As I knew my ESG professors well and as I could see that they wanted me to learn the material and do well, I was more committed to my classes. It certainly helped a lot that ESG has an open-door policy with professors, so that any questions are willingly answered by the professors and any confusing concepts explained again. I've also really liked the fact that in ESG class participation is extremely encouraged. It forced me to pay attention."
Subjects at ESG
Biology: "I absolutely loved the way 7.013 is taught in ESG. You really learn the key, fundamental concepts to biology. Also, how to apply the concepts to experiments is emphasized. I think that is extremely important, not only because I have an internship in Biological Sciences this summer, but also for future classes, UROPs etc. where understanding why something works is important. 7.013 in ESG influenced me to declare Course 20 instead of Course 10B."
Chemistry: "Patti was my favorite teacher by far. She has an excitement for the coursework and really knew how to make it interesting and understandable. I loved that she referred to our classes as discussions rather than lectures, because she wanted us to get involved in learning the material. I have learned more about chemistry than I ever thought I would. It was not one of my favorite classes in high school, but it was my favorite class this term."
Math: "18.03 was a wonderful class. I liked that there was always connections to what we were doing to modeling real life. While working on a project for another class I was able to understand where graphs of enzyme kinetics came from and how to use diff.eqs to generate those graphs. The application of what we learned made it more memorable and made 18.03 seem valuable to future courses here at MIT. Having the same teacher from 18.01a-18.03 meant I was able to get to know my professor and it did not feel awkward to ask him for a letter of recommendation. Also, some of my friends also stated that in ESG we learned more than them. Learning a lot is never a bad thing and the small class sizes of ESG means that there is an advantage to taking 18.03 in ESG."
Physics: "As for 8.01, I truly enjoyed the class which offered a simple understanding of physics concepts. I liked Analia’s approach in teaching because the concepts were conveyed properly. I had fun and I learned a lot. Analia was also very knowledgeable of the course content. She was always available for assistance. On the whole, I enjoyed 8.01 because I really learned how to critically analyze through physics."
The value of student teaching assistants
"I learned so much from the TAs that I had and I believe the system of having ESG alumni and fellow undergraduates run recitations is a brilliant idea. Since the TAs have been through the class they were able to give valuable advice about how to study, what material to focus on, and what extra resources could help us out….Being a part of ESG has led me to strengthen my conviction that becoming a TA and having the opportunity to teach the subjects I find fascinating is something I would definitely like to pursue as soon as possible. This semester I was able to look up at my own TAs and aspire to gain as thorough an understanding of the material as they have, and so I am eager to continue with my GIRs and ultimately become a TA."