The next time you fall asleep or make a comment in a big lecture course, be warned: You may not be just another face in the crowd to your professor.
Starting next semester, Yale professors will be able to access identification photographs of students enrolled in their courses. The student identification photos used in online and print facebooks will be made available to Yale faculty in the fall of 2001 in customized databases available only to professors.
To the chagrin of some students and to the delight of others, professors will be able to access these photos during and after class time, making anonymity in large lectures a thing of the past.
After hearing from many professors who complained of not having a method of identifying their students during class, the Teaching and Learning Committee teamed up with Information Technology Services to create this new online directory.
Designers said they expect that the new system, which is based on a program in use at the Yale Law School, will begin running smoothly in the fall. The program is not designed or intended for teaching assistants, but professors will be able to provide their TAs with access to it, said Charles Bailyn, who is chairman of the Teaching and Learning Committee.
The program’s creators said they hope that the new facebook program will help professors become more closely acquainted with their students.
“A lot of professors hear students make interesting comments during class and go back to their office and say, ‘who was that person?'” Bailyn said. “Having exclusive access to a photo ID roster of students in their class makes figuring that out a whole lot easier.”
A test pilot of the program launched at the beginning of this semester and a handful of professors were asked to try out the program. Molecular biology and biochemistry professor Scott Strobel is using the program for his MB&B 301 course along with English professor Joseph Gordon, who has tested it in his seminars. In feedback to the Teaching and Learning Committee, Gordon described the program as a “great new innovation” and said that he believes it is an “exciting idea.”
For students, however, there are mixed feelings. While this new database will help professors identify and contact students, some students feel that the idea of being identified on a daily basis adds pressure on them to increase their efforts in class.
“I like taking lecture classes, especially when I have a couple of seminar classes each semester because there isn’t the requirement of daily work,” Paulo Pereira ’02 said. “Now that professors could conceivably know who I am, monitor my attendance and hold me accountable for every comment I do or don’t make, I feel an extra burden to attend class all the time and participate more often.”
Other students said the program would improve their classroom experiences and encourage class involvement.
“I think it’s a good idea to give professors photos of their students,” Garren Givens ’04 said. “I usually wait until after class to approach my professors if I have anything to say because I assume they see me as just a nameless face. But if I raise my hand and my professors call me by name then I’ll instead assume that they’ll take what I have to say more seriously and care whether I’m in class or not because they will know who I am.”
Whether students are happy about the new program or not, it will be implemented next fall barring any technical problems, Bailyn said.
“This will be a great thing for teachers,” Bailyn said. “I think this will lead to a great deal of improvement in faculty-to-student relations and I look forward to seeing it in progress soon.”