MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXVII No. 2
November / December 2014
Issues in Considering the Future
of MIT Education
Four New Members Elected to
FNL Editorial Board
The Future of MIT Education
Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct at MIT: A Faculty Primer
Reflecting on "All Doors Open"
Are We Moving Toward a Two-Class
Research-Education Society at MIT?
8.02 TEAL+x: Students Say "Yes"
to MITx in 8.02 TEAL
Addressing Student Mental Health Issues
at MIT
Advising Undergraduates or Teaching a
CI-H/HW Subject? New Enrollment Tools Can Help
Transforming Student Information Systems
The A2 Problem Set in
Undergraduate Education
Work-Life Center Announces Senior Planning Benefit and Seminar Series
The Alumni Class Funds Seek Proposals for Teaching and Education Enhancement
Being "Nice" at MIT
from the 2014 survey "Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault"
from the 2014 survey "Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault"
Printable Version

Advising Undergraduates or Teaching a CI-H/HW Subject? New Enrollment Tools Can Help

Diana Henderson

This year a new suite of online tools is available to help you and your students as they seek appropriate subjects designated as Communication Intensive in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CI-H). CI-H subjects are part of the Communication Requirement within the undergraduate General Institute Requirements, and include a subset concentrating more particularly on the writing process, designated CI-HW.

The tools and process changes have been designed to ease chronic enrollment issues within the CI-H/HW subjects.

Every undergraduate must take at least two of these subjects, and enrollment in each subject is capped in order to guarantee sufficient attention to student writing and ample opportunity for oral expression.

This fall term 2184 students used the tools. Almost 45% of them (971) were freshmen, and more than 30% (681) were sophomores. This is not surprising, given that the Communication Requirement is a paced requirement, and most students complete one CI-H/HW subject in each of their first two years.

The tools will continue to be piloted for spring term beginning with pre-registration in December. Advisors of undergraduates who have yet to take their CI-H/HW subjects should make sure that their advisees know about the new tools.

For undergraduates and their advisors, the tools include:

  • A subject selection process during pre-registration, in which students can request prioritized placement by listing up to two preferred CI-H/HW subjects with two alternatives to each. The deadline for making these selections for spring semester is Wednesday, December 31. This is the only way students can be scheduled into the subjects before classes begin. Thus, advisor-student and teacher-student consultations could become more meaningful in December during pre-registration.
  • A scheduling algorithm that places students into guaranteed spaces in the CI-H/HW subjects, based on their pre-registration preferences and priorities set by the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR). Students will know whether or not they got into a CI-H/HW subject when their schedules are available on Thursday, January 22. Most students should get their first or second choice – 85% did for fall semester.
  • Waitlists will be available on WebSIS as soon as schedules are published. The waitlists contain real-time information on enrollments and make it easy to identify which subjects have openings. If students don’t select their CI-H/HW subjects by December 31 or they want other subjects, they must place themselves on waitlists in order to be eligible for enrollment offers from instructors, should spaces be available. Students cannot add themselves to CI-H/HW subjects without first receiving an enrollment offer.

Advisors can help the process by making sure that students remove themselves promptly from subjects they no longer want, either during registration or via the online add/drop form, and by approving the changes quickly.

Students should also be urged to remove themselves from waitlists of subjects in which they are no longer interested. This way other students can be admitted to the subjects, and instructors have a more accurate sense of the number of interested students in a timely way.  Since many instructors require attendance in their CI subjects, it is especially important that decisions be made swiftly.

For instructors of CI-H/HW subjects,

  • Enrollments are capped throughout the process. After initial scheduling, instructors can make enrollment offerings and students can add subjects only when there are openings.
  • Waitlists, available with class lists on WebSIS beginning January 22, provide information on students who have declared an interest in joining the class; they also provide a more appropriate and equitable system for filling open slots once classes begin. Students are grouped on the waitlists based on the priorities set by SOCR, and instructors are encouraged to select students in priority group order. For the spring a new bulk e-mail feature will make it easier for instructors to send students on the waitlist specific information – for example, whether they expect students to show up on the first day of classes.

For more information on this project, visit:

The help section of the site includes FAQs, Quick Guides, and an eLearning video.

I am the business lead for this project, and the Office of Faculty Support, Registrar’s Office, and Information Systems & Technology are jointly providing sponsorship and staffing. Faculty champions for this change include the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) and the Dean’s Office in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

The tools in this pilot are being assessed by the project team, which is currently analyzing data on how the tools worked. We have also surveyed all students and instructors who used the tools and are compiling the results. If you have comments or suggestions for the team, please e-mail them at:

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