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GISP participation down this semester


The number of Group Independent Study Projects has fallen to eight this semester, down from 22 in the spring and 14 last fall.

The number of GISPs is one barometer of student engagement with the New Curriculum. The Curricular Resource Center characterized this semester's downturn as an aberration.

Over the last four years, an average of 12 GISPs have been completed in the fall semester and 22 in the Spring.

Fall enrollment in GISPs is generally lower than spring enrollment because students must submit a proposal for the 14-week semester five months before the semester begins, according to Peggy Chang '91, director of the CRC. In the spring, students only have to submit a proposal by early November. Additionally, first-years, who are ineligible to participate in GISPs in the fall, become eligible in the spring.

Though there are only eight GISPs this semester, 13 were proposed. Kathleen McSharry, associate dean for writing and curriculum, said 29 GISPs were proposed for last spring semester, and 22 became projects.

Chang said she was "a little surprised" that four applicant groups declined to revise their proposals.

McSharry said revising is an arduous process that may begin two months before the deadline and carry into summer for some people.

Only one course was rejected outright by the committee, which decided the topic could not meet the criteria of the liberal arts.

Jasmyn Samaroo '13, who took a GISP on lucid dreaming last fall, wrote in an email to The Herald that planning her course was difficult and that she received "little direction" in the process.

But McSharry said creating a syllabus independently is one of the most valuable aspects of doing a GISP.

Evan Schwartz '13, independent concentration and independent studies co-coordinator, said students who participate generally give positive reviews of the projects, but many students do not even consider conducting GISPs.

Recently, the CRC has taken new steps to publicize the program with a blog, a bulletin board in J. Walter Wilson and departmental undergraduate groups. Schwartz said the CRC wants to further promote GISPs by partnering with A Day on College Hill.

Forty students attended an information session for spring GISPs Tuesday night in the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center.


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