The Student Association launched its fall 2001 Academic Update Wednesday, after the Web site crashed last week following its initial launch.
The Academic Update, designed to help students pick classes by showing how other students rated professors and courses, now offers redesigned features such as easier-to-read and fast-loading tables and classes that are cross-referenced by teacher name and department, said Jordan Usdan, director of the Academic Update.
This is the fourth consecutive semester that the SA has offered the Academic Update online. The SA used to offer printed copies of the update, but decided to switch to the online version starting fall 1999.
Attitude Research, the company that calculates survey results and programs the site, decided to switch Web hosts last week after the site’s failure, according to a letter from company representative Sharon Gross.
Students fill out Academic Update surveys in class at the end of each semester, evaluating their professor’s classroom presentation, amounts of work required by the class and their expected grade. About 55 percent of professors turned in results for last semester’s surveys, Usdan said.
Completed surveys are sent out to a company in California where they are processed. Results are posted on the Web site www.attituderesearch.com/gwu.
SA President Dave Burt said that the University should take on the responsibility of running the survey.
“I think they should,” Burt said, “we have argued our case on that one.”
The surveys are counted and mailed by the SA staff, a job requiring several people to work on the processing of 30,000 forms.
“I encourage everyone to use it,” Burt said. “Many students don’t have any idea as to the work load or responsibilities of their classes. The Academic Update provides that.”
Burt said that one of the most valuable portions of the Web site are the criticisms that students can post. Burt said that these constructive criticisms are accessible to the professors and the students alike.
“Some professors view the update with hostility,” Burt said, “because they are afraid that negative comments will be made public.”
Students said they use the surveys to decide between different sections of the same class, but others said student input plays no role in their decisions for classes.
“I don’t use (the Academic Update) any more,” sophomore Neal Rosenberg said. “But that is because I don’t really care what others think about a class, because it may be different for me then it was for them.”