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Post-preregistration for spring 2020 (#978)

Topics/tags: Registration, Grinnell, assorted data, rambly, long, end-notable

A few weeks ago, I wrote my semesterly [1] musing on preregistration, this one on preregistration for spring 2020. I realize that I’m supposed to call it open registration rather than preregistration [2]. But the list of faculty dates to remember [3] still calls it preregistration, as does the list of student dates to remember [4]. So I’m going to stick with preregistration, at least for the time being.

I find it interesting to compare the state of our registration between the end of preregistration and after cuts, closes, and balances have happened. This year, I’ve waited until the end of the semester, which should have allowed things to settle down [5].

What are some of the interesting changes I’ve observed? Let’s address the departments in alphabetical order.

As expected, ALS [6] has gone from an over-enrolled 0-credit course with eighteen students to six different courses (Italian I, Hindi I, Brazilian Portuguese I, Hungarian I, Korean II, and Korean III), each with about two students. It’s also still an over-enrolled course but now with twenty-one students.

Katya and Leslie’s AMS/ANT/BIO-220, Racing Through Genetics, has gone from 24 students to 22, but remains over-enrolled. I assume they couldn’t bear to cut more than two students, or perhaps two students volunteered to switch to another course.

The four sections of ANT-104, Anthropological Inquiries, which were over-enrolled by about one section’s worth of students, are now five sections of ANT-104. It’s nice of Tess Kulstad to pick up another section. I hope we’re compensating Tess appropriately.

Kathy Kamp and Lesley Wright cut about fourteen people from ANT/HUM-205, Desiging Museum Displays [7].

The two over-enrolled sections of ART-111, Introduction to the Studio, have become three sections of ART-111. One person is teaching all three sections, and the sections are all Tuesday/Thursday. I do not envy them [8] those long days. I guess that’s a positive side effect of the change in in-class time for the studio classes; Studio Art Faculty can now teach three courses in a day [9].

In contrast, there is not a new section of Drawing, even though it was significantly over-enrolled. But Jeremy Chen is already teaching three courses in the spring. Four would be awful. It looks like Jeremy couldn’t bear to kick people out of ART-240, Ceramics, so that course is still slightly over-enrolled.

ASC-101, Scholars Seminar, is still being offered, even though it has only two students. But it’s a one-credit course, and many students end up adding it after they see how they do in their first semester at Grinnell.

Somehow, nine students got cut from BCM-262-01, Intro Biological Chem w/lab but there are still slots open in BCM-262-02. I don’t know what’s up with that. Perhaps they are allowing the students who got cut to petition to get into the other section. I know that there are years in which they’ve allowed that course to significantly over-enroll, but that’s not healthy for faculty.

Speaking of leaving courses over-enrolled, it appears Clark has kept 24 students in BIO 263, Neurobiology, even though it’s officially capped at 18. The labs are also over-enrolled, presumably at the number of students who can safely work in the lab space.

Elsewhere in Biology, BIO-252, Organisms, Evolution, and Ecology with Lab, appears to have managed to balance its sections and even add a few more people. CHM-129, General Chemistry w/Lab, also seems to have balanced its sections. The most-over-enrolled section is now the only one that’s not over-enrolled, but I think that’s because it’s the workshop section.

Back to over-enrolled courses, it looks like each section of CHM-222, Organic Chemistry II, is over-enrolled by seven students. You’d think that they’d add another section rather than add that many students to each class. But perhaps they couldn’t find someone to staff another section, perhaps they couldn’t find a space to offer it, or perhaps the Dean wouldn’t come up with the money. In any case, Organic II is important enough that I expect they felt that they could not cut anyone. At least they have enough lab offerings!

Next up is my department, Computer Science. We balanced the three sections of CSC-151, Functional Problem Solving w/lab and were still able to allow a few more students in. I know that some first-year students were frustrated that they got cut in the fall, but we managed to meet all the demand in the spring. Six sections per year seem to suffice.

CSC-161, Imperative Problem Solving w/lab was our hardest course to handle. We were over-enrolled by twenty students and could not fit that many in the classroom. Barbara Johnson graciously agreed to switch from CSC-105 to open a third section. And we were able to find someone else interested in teaching CSC-105 [10]. I see that most of our courses are at or near capacity, which seems to be the norm these days. I’m a bit surprised to see that both sections of CSC-326 are left as open, given that we over-enrolled CSC-324 with the understanding that it used the open slots in 324. I’ve written enough about other cut, close, and balance issues in my department that I don’t think there’s much more to add.

I’m surprised to see that Economics cut one section of ECN-111, Introduction to Economics. They usually fill as many sections as they can offer. Maybe students are heading over to Anthropology instead. It looks like section 1 of ECN-286, Econometrics is still over-filled and there is room in section 2. They seem to have tried to balance them. It seems strange that the 8:00 a.m. section is over-enrolled. There’s more room in ECN-329, Advanced Econometrics, and ECN-338, Applied Game Theory, than I would expect. Otherwise, everything seems pretty much full. I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the 30 students who they needed to cut from Brad Graham’s Economics of Innovation.

On to Education. EDU-101, Educational Principles in a Pluralistic Society was over-enrolled during pre-registration. It doesn’t look like they were able to find room for everyone. Two classes are cancelled, but they were cancelled before preregistration. Nothing else seems particularly surprising.

English seems to have balanced the enrollments in ENG-120, Literary Analysis. Both sections of ENG-205, The Craft of Fiction, are now full. I think that means that they needed to cut 33 students. There does seem to be significant demand for courses that explicitly focus on creativity [11]. Dean B’s [12] evening course in screenwriting is also full. I’m glad that there are still a few slots in Ralph’s morning class in Ralph’s ENG-207, Craft of Creative Nonfiction. That means he’ll let me in. I see that John Garrison has continued his practice of allowing his 300-level classes to over-enroll. There are eighteen in ENG-316, Studies in English Renaissance Literature. It sounds like his practice is carrying on to others, too. Makeba Lavan, who I don’t know, is allowing sixteen into _ENG-229, Studies in African American Literature.

All of the Environmental studies courses are full. I wonder who is teaching ENG-295, the special topics course on Climate Change and Indigenous People. It seems very popular (and very interesting).

There’s not a lot to report on in French. It appears that FRN-103, Accelerated Introduction to French, was cancelled. I wonder what happens to the students who had enrolled in the course; it’s easy to lose a language if you take too much time off. I’m glad to see that French is doing well at the 300-level; they clearly need both sections of FRN-305, Contemporary Francophone Culture.

Switching to a somewhat older language, I’m thrilled to see that GRE-222, Intermediate Greek, is completely full. Grinnell students seem to be showing an appropriate level of interest in Classics.

I’m happy to see that the German Lab that was scheduled on Thursdays at 11:00 has now moved to Thursdays at 1:00. Nothing should be scheduled at the same time as Scholars’ Convocation. I wonder if the original was just a typo.

At the end of preregistration, section 1 of GWS-111, Introduction to Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies [14] was over-enrolled by twenty-five students and section 2 had three slots. Now section 1 is exactly full and section 2 is over-enrolled by one student. I don’t understand these things. Tamara Beauboeuf’s special topic on Educating Women is still over-enrolled by two.

You know what? I’m getting a bit sick of all of this. Why am I doing it again? Oh, that’s right. More knowledge helps. It helps me advise. It may help others plan. Okay, I’m going to press on. I’ll probably focus mostly on courses that were over-enrolled at the preregistration.

What’s next? History. HIS-210, Historical Perspectives on US Education [15] was over-enrolled by three students. Now it’s over-enrolled by two. HIS-277, China’s Rise, was over-enrolled by ten students (thirty-five enrolled with a cap of twenty-five). Now it’s over-enrolled by only two. I wonder what happened to the other eight students. That’s a serious comment; I’m still not sure how the department decided who to cut or to move. HIS-330, Pol of Food/Early-Mod England, was over-enrolled by seven. Students do seem to like courses targeted at food. Now it’s right at capacity. It looks like those students shifted to other 300-level seminars.

On a side note [16], I’m interested by the choice to include of in the abbreviated title. We are capped at thirty characters, probably because of an old-style database, or a need to fit the title in some printed documents. Abbreviating titles is an interesting activity. I’ve already noted that CS is inconsistent in how it abbreviates Problem Solving. I would have used Pol Food rather than Pol of Food but what do I know? I am a bit amused at Early-Mod since that could refer to the early 1960s and the start of the Mod movement in England. With that choice, one could, for example, compare Mod food to Rocker food and consider the political implications thereof. I suppose you’d watch Quadrophenia to get a better understanding of the time [17].

HUM-195, ST: Soc Impact Documentary Film, had fifty students enrolled for twenty slots. It’s good to see courses by CS alums getting strong enrollment [19].

LIN-395, ST: Language and Humor, had eighteen students enrolled for fifteen slots. I’m surprised that that many students had the qualifications for a 300-level course in linguistics. I wonder what the prereqs are. I see that they read ANT-280, or any 200-level course that counts towards Linguistics concentration. I also see that it’s cross-listed as ANT-395 [20]. I don’t think it’s worth my effort to see what 200-level courses count toward the Linguistics concentration, but I do wonder why they dropped the article in the prerequisite description. In any case, it appears that they cut three students from that course.

On to Mathematics and Statistics, or maybe just Mathematics, since Statistics now has its own designation. MAT-131-01, Calculus I, remains over-enrolled by two students It’s hard to tell students that they can’t take Calculus. At the end of preregistration, we had three sections of MAT-133, Calculus II. Section 1 had two slots available. Section 2 was over-enrolled by two students. Section 3 had sixteen open slots. After CCB, we have two slots available in section 1, no slots in section 2, and eleven slots in section 3. All three are marked as balanced. In CS, we would have been more aggressive about balancing; that is, we would have tried to get about 28 students in each section, rather than the current 30/32/21. Equal-sized sections provide a more consistent experience for the students. But it’s not always possible to balance sections.

While we’re on the subject of MAT-133, I see that we’ve switched section 1 from Chris French to Staff. I wonder what Chris picked up instead. Ah! I see. He’s now teaching a section of MAT-218, Graph Theory. That frees Karen Shuman to teach a section of MAT-316, Foundations of Analysis, which was over-enrolled by fifteen-students. It’s hard to teach over-enrolled sections of 300-level courses in Mathematics because they are writing-intensive courses. More precisely, they are proof-writing-intensive courses.

Returning to the sections of Math courses, let’s consider MAT-215, Linear Algebra. Section 1 had some open slots. But who wants to do math at 8:00 a.m. [21]? Section 2 was over-enrolled by one student and section 3 was over-enrolled by nineteen students. After CCB, no section is over-enrolled. However, there are more slots available in the 8:00 a.m. section. As I said before, CS would likely have moved more students into that section.

Up next is MAT-218, Combinatorics & Number Theory. That was over-enrolled by eleven students. And like MAT-316, it’s a course with a lot of proof writing. The addition of MAT-218, Graph Theory, picks up that slack.

You may be wondering why MAT-218 has multiple titles. Officially, MAT-218 is something like Discrete Bridges to Advanced Mathematics. It’s a course in which students fully transition from a formula-driven view of mathematics that some have from Calculus to one grounded more in proof and formal systems. Of course, they also make some of that transition in earlier courses, including Calculus, but primarily in Linear Algebra. In any case, a few years ago, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics decided to make it a somewhat open-topic course; faculty teaching it could choose what formal system to base the proof-writing and learning in. I believe that there are at least three versions: graph theory, number theory, and geometry. The number theory version also adds combinatorics, at least in some sections. MAT-218 also serves to meet one of the math requirements for CS.

Up next is MAT-316, Foundations of Analysis, which I’ve mentioned already. It had been over-enrolled by fifteen students. With Karen Shuman teaching a second section, there are now twenty students in one section and seventeen in the other. I guess the additional time made it possible for more students to take the course.

MAT-321, Foundations of Abstract Algebra, was over-enrolled by nine students. It’s now over-enrolled by three. I worry a bit about that over-enrollment, since it’s an intensive proof-writing course, and that requires a lot of feedback from the faculty member. But there generally aren’t other options when required 300-level courses over-enroll [22]. I expect a few students switched to MAT-316.

MAT-322, Algebraic Graph Theory, had nineteen students enrolled and a cap of twelve. Now it has only sixteen students enrolled [24]. From one perspective, that doesn’t seem so bad. However, I know from personal experience that it’s a burden to teach all of your classes at or over capacity, even when some are officially smaller classes. And we do choose caps for good reasons.

MAT-395, ST: Applied Data Science, was over-enrolled by two students. It’s now at capacity. Part of me says Couldn’t you keep those two students in the course? But another part of me reminds that first part that we have course caps for a reason. Speaking of MAT-395: I’m not sure why it’s not listed as STA-395. Oh, wait. It is. Cross-listing between Mathematics and Statistics is new to me.

And that’s it for Mathematics. We’ll look at the rest of Statistics separately. It feels like I had to write more about Mathematics than I did about almost any other department. I hope the Dean’s office and other administrators realize what a burden it is to have to deal with that much shifting. Not only do you have to figure out what kinds of shifts are appropriate, and, as in this instance, shift around faculty and create and remove sections, you also have to deal with the pushback from students who are shifted.

Given how over-enrolled Math is at the 300 level and elsewhere, it seems like it’s time for them to get another regular faculty member. I wonder when the last time Math grew was. When I started in the Fall of 1997, we had about seven mathematicians [25,28]. As best I can tell, we still have seven [29]. Grinnell has grown a lot in the past twenty-some-odd years. And the Sciences have grown even more, at least as a percentage of majors [30]. I’d hope that’s a good argument. And I hope that the Trustees would allow us to add someone in Mathematics without sacrificing a tenure-line position elsewhere. I realize that we’ve added folks in Statistics in the past decade [31]. However, counting additions in Statistics against Mathematics is like counting additions in Arabic against French [33].

Wow. I’m digressing a lot. Back to the main musing.

Music is hard to analyze because there are so many kinds of music courses. Let’s start with music lessons [34]. MUS-120-08, Perf: Percussion, had twenty-four students enrolled with a cap of twelve. MUS-120-09, Perf: Clarinet, had five students enrolled with a cap of four. MUS-120-10, Perf: Jazz Saxophone, also had five enrolled with a cap of four. MUS-120-19, Perf: Organ, had four enrolled with a cap of three. MUS-120-38, Perf: Cello, had sixteen students enrolled with a cap of fifteen. MUS-120-40, Perf: Bassoon, had six enrolled with a cap of three. MUS-120-91, Perf: Guitar had thirty-one enrolled with a cap of twenty. MUS-120-92, Perf: Piano had fifty-five enrolled with a cap of twenty. MUS-120-93, Perf: Voice, had sixty-seven enrolled with a cap of twenty. None of the MUS-220 or MUS-221 courses are over-enrolled. That may not be surprising since each has a cap of twenty. What’s the difference between the two? MUS-220 meets for thirty minutes each week and MUS-221 meets for sixty minutes each week [35]. MUS-320, Shared Recital, and MUS-420, Individual Recital, do not appear in the list of courses from preregistration.

Now, I’ll admit that I don’t quite get how caps in music lessons work nor how we deal with over-enrollment. I’m pretty sure that the practica faculty get paid per set of lessons [36]. Where do the caps come from? Is that the number they expect to teach? The number they indicate that they would be able to teach? And what do we do when a set of lessons over-enrolls? Do we find someone else to teach? Do we ask the faculty member to teach more? Do we turn students away? The last seems inappropriate since we’ve indicated that every student should be able to take a set of lessons in their instrument of choice each semester and that Music majors should be able to take as many sets of lessons as they would like. I do see that the MUS-120-9x classes are all listed as Staff, which suggests that they plan to break them up among multiple faculty. That seems new; I recall that each of those instruments listed individual instructors in the past. It does look like individual faculty are named at the 200 level.

So, what happened?

MUS-120-08, Perf: Percussion, now has twenty-three students enrolled with a cap of twenty. The cap has gone up significantly and one student has disappeared. I wonder if the College has to pay extra benefits to someone who is teaching more than twenty lessons. MUS-120-09, Perf: Clarinet and MUS-120-10, Perf: Jazz Saxophone, have stayed the same: Five students enrolled in each with a cap of four. MUS-120-19, Perf: Organ, also remained the same, with four enrolled and a cap of three. MUS-120-38, Perf: Cello, also remained over-enrolled by one with sixteen students enrolled and a cap of fifteen. MUS-120-40, Perf: Bassoon, is down to five enrolled with a cap of three. MUS-120-91, Perf: Guitar is gone from the list. Twenty six are in the newly created MUS-120-11, Perf: Guitar and thirteen are in the newly created MUS-120-42, Perf: Guitar. That’s up from the thirty-one who were there at the end of pre-registration. MUS-120-92, Perf: Piano, is also gone. In its place are MUS-120-14, Perf: Piano, with fifty-one students [37], and MUS-120-20, with eleven students. Since there were fifty-five enrolled at the end of prereg, it looks like we’ve gone up a bit in piano. MUS-120-93 has been replaced with MUS-120-02, Perf: Voice, with twenty-two students, MUS-120-13, Perf: Voice, with eleven students, MUS-120-15, Perf: Voice, with eighteen students, MUS-120-23, Perf: Voice, with no students [38], and MUS-120-44, Perf: Voice, with nineteen students. There were sixty-seven students enrolled in 100-level voice; it appears that there are now seventy enrolled in the sections I just mentioned.

From these data, I presume that (a) we do not normally cut students from music classes and (b) the new MUS-120-9x courses exist to simplify enrollment in popular types of lessons. I would expect that for the latter, it helps address the issue that some students are enrolling for the first time and could presumably be associated with any instructor, while others will likely want to repeat with a particular instructor.

As long as we’re on the subject of music lessons, it seems worthwhile to look at all of the kinds of lessons we offer. In alphabetical order, I see the following twenty-eight different instruments and I may have missed one or two: Accordion, Bagpipes, Banjo, Baritone Horn, Clarinet, Cornetto [39], Double Bass, Flute, French Horn, Guitar, Harp, Harpsichord, Jazz Bass, Jazz Organ, Jazz Piano, Jazz Saxophone, Jazz Voice, Oboe, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Viola, Violin, and Voice. That’s a pretty good variety. I’ve also heard rumors that students (or at least music majors) who have an interest in getting lessons in another instrument can sometimes request them and the College will find an instructor.

How many students are enrolled in music lessons? That’s hard to count since some enroll in multiple lessons. So let’s look at enrollments. I see about 329 in MUS-120 [40], forty-one (41) in MUS-220, twenty (20) in MUS-221, seven (7) in MUS-320, and one (1) in MUS-420. So somewhere between one in five and one in four Grinnell students is taking music lessons next semester. We should strive to increase that number.

On to other music courses, or at least over-enrolled music courses. MUS-201, Digital Music-Making [41], was enrolled at nearly twice capacity, with thirty-nine students in a class capped at twenty. It was also listed as Staff. It now has nineteen students and is still listed as Staff. That course is hard enough to staff that I expect that it would be impossible to offer a second section.

I had commented on the difficulty in managing the CCB process for Mathematics. Given the number of lessons, I expect that it’s even worse in Music. I appreciate the hard work of the Chair and whoever else supports them in that endeavor. I hope that the Chair of Music gets an annual course release [42].

Moving on, PCS-195, ST: Mediation/Conflict Trnsfm, one of the special topics course in Peace and Conflict Studies, had eighteen students enrolled in a course with a cap of sixteen. It’s another of those half-semester, Monday-evening, one-credit courses that seem to be popular with students. It appears that they allowed all the students to remain in that course.

Like Music, Physical Education has a bunch of practica courses. Let’s just go through them in a list.

  • PHE-100-13, Golf, had fifteen enrolled with a cap of ten. It now has thirteen enrolled.
  • PHE-100-19A, Rock Climbing, had seventeen enrolled with a cap of seven. There was also a section B, presumably in the second half of the semester, that had three slots available. Strangely enough, section 19A is down to five students and section 19B is up to six.
  • PHE-100-21, Indoor Soccer, had twenty-four enrolled with a cap of twenty-two. It’s now up to twenty-five.
  • PHE-100-32, Volleyball, had sixteen enrolled with a cap of fifteen. It remained the same.
  • PHE-100-34, Zumba, had eighteen enrolled with a cap of twelve. It remained the same.
  • PHE-100-41, Beginning Weight Lifting, had thirty-one enrolled with a cap of fifteen. I wonder if the recent photos of Kumail Nanjiani ’01 had anything to do with that. It’s down to twenty-nine. Is there enough equipment in the gym to support that many students?
  • PHE-100-48, Yoga I, had thirty enrolled with a cap of twenty. It’s down to eighteen. Yoga provides a wonderful path to wellness; I wish we could support all of the interested students.

As is normal, PHE-202, Coaching Methods, is significantly over-enrolled. There are forty students enrolled with a cap of twenty-four. I’ve had a good number of students take that course and it makes me happy that so many of our students think about volunteer coaching after college. As is normal, they’ve cut the course. There are now twenty-three students.

Section 2 of PHI-111, Introduction to Philosophy, had been over-enrolled by two students, while there were open slots in both section 1 and section 3, with the latter at the unpopular time of 3:00-3:50 p.m. The two morning sections are now balanced, with five open slots and six open slots, respectively. Section 3 remains the outlier, with twelve open slots. I will admit that I still find it strange that there are any open slots in PHI-111. When I was a young faculty member and we had the wonderful chaos of Harris Registration [43], PHI-111 was often the first course to fill.

Section 3 of PHY-132, General Physics II w/lab was over-enrolled by nine students. But section 1 had eleven open slots [44] and section 2 had sixteen open slots. After CCB, section 1 has five open slots, section 2 has four open slots, and section 3 has two open slots. It appears that Physics balances more like CS than Math does.

PHY-314-01, Thermodyn/Statisticl Physics had sixteen students enrolled and a cap of fifteen. It’s down to fifteen. It appears one student was dropped or was convinced to switch to another class. In contrast, PHY-337-01, Optics Wave Phenomena w/lab, went from one available space to being over-enrolled by one.

POL-101, like many 100-level courses we’ve looked at, also has an imbalance between sections. While section 2, at 1:00 pm, was over-enrolled by seven students, section 1, at 8:00 a.m., had thirteen open slots, and section 3, at 3:00 p.m., had eleven open slots. After CCB, section 1 has four open slots, section 2 has 1 open slot, and section 3 has five open slots. It appears that in addition to balancing the three sections, they’ve added some students.

POL-216, Politics of Congress, had thirty-five students enrolled and a cap of twenty-five. After CCB, it had twenty-six students enrolled. I wonder if some of those students moved to POL-220, Foundations of Policy Analysis, or POL-250, Politics of Intern’l Relations. And isn’t POL-250 usually incredibly over-enrolled, or is that another of Wayne Moyer’s courses? Speaking of over-enrolled Wayne Moyer courses, POL-259, Hmn Rts, Fndtn, Chlngs, Choice, which I interpret as Human Relations, Foundations, Challenges, and Choice, but which turns out to be Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Choices, had twenty-eight students and a cap of twenty-five at the end of preregistration and remains with twenty-eight students.

Special Topics courses in Political Science seem to be popular. POL-295-01, ST: Political Polling, had twenty students and a cap of fifteen. Who wouldn’t have an opportunity to work with the Grinnell poll, particularly in its early days [46]? It’s now down to fourteen. POL-295-02, ST: Political Violence, had twenty-eight students enrolled with a cap of twenty-five? Why did a 200-level special topics course have a cap of twenty-five? I’m not sure. I should do a study of caps on special topics courses [47]. In any case, after CCB it is now down to twenty-five. POL-395-01, ST: Intl Pol Organized Crime, had nineteen students enrolled and a cap of fifteen. It is now down to sixteen students.

Political Science is one of our most popular majors. It looks like their classes are generally quite full. Is it another department that the College should be thinking about expanding?

PSY-395, ST: Neural Plasticity, had nineteen students enrolled in a class with a cap of fifteen. It’s been cut to that cap.

As I’ve noted before, RUS-195-01, ST: Soviet Food Culture, was one of our most over-enrolled classes, reaching the level of studio art. Todd had sixty-seven students enrolled and a cap of fifteen. Given that he’s teaching it in the new Global Kitchen, I’m surprised that he’s allowing as many as fifteen in the course. I’m glad to see that he’s added a second section, which allows him to support thirty-students between the two sections. I hope he has time amidst his far-too-many duties as Chair of the Faculty. I suppose I should ease off on the email I send him.

SOC-111, Introduction to Sociology, breaks the mold for 100-level sociology classes. Section 1, at 8:00 a.m., was over-enrolled by one. Section 4, at 3:00 p.m., was over-enrolled by eight. Of course, Section 5, on Tuesday/Thursday from 1:00-2:20, is the most over-enrolled, with eleven students too many. If I count correctly, there were exactly enough slots in other sections to balance the course. And that seems to be what they did. There is now one slot in section 1, one slot in section 2, no slots in section 3, one slot in section 4, and no slots in section 5. Rarely do things work out that well. It’s also cool to see that there are 125 students in Intro Soc this spring.

At the 200-level, there were a lot of over-full classes. SOC-250, Sociology of Religion, had twenty-six students enrolled in a course with a cap of twenty-five. Since the other 200-level SOC courses are capped at twenty-two, I assume that it should also have been capped at that level. That course was cut to the cap of twenty-five. SOC-255, Sociology of Asian America, had thirty-one students with a cap of twenty-two. It’s down to twenty-three. SOC-265, Sociology of Health & Illness, had thirty-seven enrolled with a cap of twenty-two. It’s down to twenty-four. I wonder what happened to all the students who were cut from 200-level SOC courses. It’s not like there’s a lot of room in their other courses, and it’s not like the other courses meet the same intellectual desires as the ones they were cut from. Of course, there were slots in SOC-220, Sociology of Global Development, which is traditionally quite popular, and SOC-240, Social Movements, which is also usually quite popular. And it does appear that there are fewer slots in each.

SPN-317, Readings in US Latinx Lit/Cult, had twenty-six students enrolled and a cap of fifteen. That feels like a hard course to cut students from. Admittedly, every course is hard to cut students from. But original language, upper-level literature courses are a special breed. I was going to say, If I were Chair, I’d do what I could to find a way to offer another section, but it appears they did just that. There are now two sections, one with sixteen students and one with ten. It looks like Spanish had to cut SPN-105, Introduction to Spanish Lang I, and shuffle some teaching responsibilities to do so. I know those kinds of decisions are hard. It’s hard to believe that two intro language courses were cut [48].

Spanish also had one other over-enrolled course, SPN-385, Stds Contemp Span Lit & Film, which I originally read as Standards but quickly realized was Studies. It had one more student than the capacity and remains in that state. It’s good to see Spanish doing well in terms of enrollments.

SST-115-01, Introduction to Statistics, had thirty-three students enrolled and a cap of twenty-eight. That course raises so many thoughts. Why do we have only one section when we used to need three or four each semester? Because students are now taking STA-209, Applied Statistics, instead [49]. Why is it SST rather than STA? That I’m less sure about; I think it’s because the Statistics Faculty don’t necessarily have control of the curriculum and it does not count toward the Math/Stats major. In any case, after CCB, the course is down to twenty-eight. I wonder what happens to the five students who wanted statistics, presumably as a major requirement or a desire to cover the quantitative thinking aspect of Grinnell’s elements of a liberal arts education. I also know that there’s not much we could do about it.

On to STA-209, Applied Statistics. How does STA-209 differ from SST-115, other than in the numbering? We [50] require that students who take the latter course have had some Calculus. That knowledge should allow the students to derive some key formulae, such as those relating to the normal curve. But it’s also an issue of mathematical maturity. I loved the students I taught in MAT/SST-115, they were bright and inquisitive and willing to undertake the experiments in statistics pedagogy that I was imposing on them [51]. At the same time, some of them struggled to add fractions.

In any case, STA-209 is a popular class. We used to offer one section each semester. We now offer four. After preregistration, section 1 was over-enrolled by six students, section two had sixteen open slots, section 3 had five open slots, and section 4 was over-enrolled by forty-three students. If I do the math correctly, even after balancing we’d have twenty-eight students who could not be accommodated in the four sections, which suggests the need for another section. What happened? It appears that we still have four sections. Why not add a new section? Because it’s hard to find someone to teach that course, other than one of our regular faculty members, and all of them are booked solid. So, where do the four sections stand? Section 1 is full. Section 2 has four open slots. Section 3 has one open slot. Section 4 has no open slots. They also switched the time of Section 3 to match that of section 4. I’m not sure why two sections have open slots. I assume that they’ll get filled before the semester starts.

The other 200-level Statistics course is STA-230, Introduction to Data Science. Section 1 was over-enrolled by nine students. Section 2 was over-enrolled by ten students. Once again, that’s enough for another section. And, once again, it’s not clear who could teach that. I’m trying to figure that out. We have three tenure-line Statistics faculty. We appear to have two multi-year visitors [52]. Everyone is teaching this spring, and it doesn’t cover the demand [53].

And that’s it. We’re through the list of over-enrolled courses. Does that mean we’re done with the musing? Not quite. As I was reading through the list of courses, I realized that it would be fun to look at the names of all of the independent study courses, such as guided readings and MAPs.

Here goes.

Anthropology has Tourism and Study Abroad, Environmental Impacts of Iowa Agriculture, and Ethnography of Rohingyas.

Studio Art has Photographic Publication, Advanced Oil Painting Series, Hybrid Investigation, Narrative Illustration, Visualizing Post-Bodies, and Analog Photography [54].

Biological Chemistry has HDX and LCMS of Peptides [55], Syn Teixobactin Analogue, Bio Eval of LUG Deriv, HDX Mass Spec of MTHFR [56], Char LNC-RNS in C elegan [57], LNC-RNA Express C elegan, M+ Alpha4 nAChR Intrfce, Redox in Biology Cancer, UB Chain Formation E3s, and Regulation of HECT E3s. Wow! That’s a lot.

Biology has Global Prdctn/Cnsmptn, Slug Stability in Cancer [58], Fungal Litter Ecotypes, Phage & Antibiotic Res, Branched Ubiquitin Chain, Antibiotic Resistance, UbChain Form by WWP1, Antibiotic Farm Runoff, and Fungal Biology.

Chemistry has Sustainable Polymers, Synthesis SERS Substrate, Molecular Computations [59], Bacterial Hg Demeth, Micro Syn Sub Alkenones, Micro Syn Sub Chalcones, Synthesis of TM Complexes, Rlx Study Metal Complexes, Microbial Hg Demth, Syn of Lug and Deriv, Tran Met Com Red Lig Cat [60], Exsy Rlx Std P-PPt Cmpds, and DFT Calcs, NMR of Cp2WH2. That’s also a lot. Our Chemists are busy.

Computer Science has Robot Monoculr 3D Vision, E-Cmrc Top-N Rec Sys, Start-up Knowledge Graph, Txt2Img: Hybrid ML Model.

East Asian Studies has Trad Japanese Math. That sounds cool to me. I wonder how Traditional Japanese mathematics differs from other kinds of mathematics.

Economics has Adv Political Economy and Christmas Lights & Creme.

Education has Rural Education, Educ and Foster Youth, Implement Law Teach Union [63], and NGO Spd Edu Ini for Kaya.

English has Textual Orientations, Religion & Af Am Lit Trad, Farewells in War & Peace, Advanced Poetry Project, and Novel Writing. John Garrison is teaching two of those, and is advisor to a host of students, and is doing one of those courses with a study-abroad component, and has a new leadership role in one of his professional organizations, and attends a variety of events around campus. How does he find the time?

French has Francophone Africa.

Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies has Advanced Oral History.

German has GRM Scientists & Politics

Global Development Studies has Discourses of Gender Dev, Jewish Identity in Iran, and Poli Econ of Cooperative.

History has Native American Identity, Pop Devotion & the Rfmtn, History of Strategy, and Omitted Native Voices.

Latin-American Studies has Immigration Sentiment and Social Justice in HS SPN.

Mathematics has Curves/Riemann Services.

Music has Approaches to Mus Listen and Mass Composition. It also has recitals, which are pretty close to independent studies.

Philosophy has Hegel and Recognition.

Physics has Math in Quantum Theory, Wimshurst Mechanism and Modeling Galaxy Remnants.

Political Science has Qualitative Data Analysis and US, PRC, & Int’l Regimes.

Psychology has Nudges for Messages, Exam Func in L2 Learning, Sentence Comprehension, Children Face Scanning, andFace Processing & Memory".

Religious Studies has Cavell and Criticism and Grace in Orthodoxy.

Sociology has Pol of Mourning & Burial, Adv Journlsm Exlprtns, Whiteness Envn Justice, Community in Soc Movement, and Rce Brrrs in Clmte Mvmnt [64].

Statistics has Stat Learning Bias, which is being offered as both an independent and a MAP. Other departments have that, too, but it’s most obvious in Stats.

Theatre and Dance has Machinal Production, Stage Mngmt & Drctn, and Directing Cont Theatre.

I had not known that we had a THS-499 designation for theses. I’m guessing those are for independent majors. In any case, there are eight of them this spring: Eng Lang Lrns in Nw Lx D, Comp USUK Mat Rspn Immig, Invis Cancer Global, Office Hours Emtnl Labor, Music and Neoliberalism, Beyond Baldwin & Julien, Language of Biophilia, and the creatively named Senior Thesis Film.

That’s it for the independent-study courses I could find. I may have missed a few.

One more thing: I was watching a few special courses, including Georgeanna Robinson’s SST-195-04, How Colleges Work, Jon Andelson and Mark Baechtel’s HUM-205-03, ST: Dig Journal Publishing, and Belinda Backous’ ASC-101-01, Scholar’s Seminar. If I recall correctly, the first two courses got left out of the list of courses for at least the first half of prereg, which meant that students and advisors did not know about them. SST-195 is up to six students, which should be enough to allow an offering. HUM-295 is doing less well, with only four students. But it’s still on the list, which I take as a good sign. ASC-101 doesn’t usually get students until after grades are turned in and addressed by the Committee on Academic Standing.

Postscript: You may wonder why some courses, after cutting, are below capacity. In my experience, that’s usually because the instructor cuts to capacity and then one of the students who stayed decides to take another course or to take some time off from Grinnell. I know that, on occasion, I’ve asked to cut a course to below capacity to allow some of the cut students to petition to get back into the course; the Registrar has not generally looked favorably on that approach.

Postscript: As I noted, some parts of this musing felt like a slog while I was doing the analysis and writing. However, things picked up at certain points. I felt quite engaged while writing about Mathematics and Music, perhaps because some interesting things are happening with enrollments in each department.

Postscript: It may not surprise you to know that I regularly misspell words and make typos. I usually count on spell checkers to catch those mistakes. The number of strange abbreviations in the course titles, as well as the number of faculty names, made spell checking a much less pleasant experience. I wonder how many things I accidentally corrected. Grammarly tells me that it has an additional 245 things it will tell me about if I just pay it the appropriate ransom [65].

Postscript: Not only is this musing one of the longest I’ve written in terms of word count [67] and the number of endnotes [68], it also seems to have taken me much longer than any prior musing. I’m not sure exactly how much time it took since I wrote it over multiple sessions, but I expect that it’s over eight hours [69]. I don’t think I’ll regularly have the time to write this much for a single musing.

Is there a return value on musings like this? As I said, I learn some things through this activity. But I don’t learn enough to make it worth eight hours of my time. Others may learn a bit. Again, it’s probably not enough. However, a few of these musings have made a difference with staffing; if I recall correctly, they’ve helped us with Linguistics and CS. If they also help with Studio Art, or Russian Cooking [70], or Mathematics, or Statistics, or Latinx literature, they are probably worth it.

If you can’t help teach these courses [71] but have some spare cash, you could donate to help one of these endeavors. At the high end, you could consider endowing a professorship in one of the aforementioned departments [72]. Somewhere in the middle, you might donate to name the Global Kitchen, unless it’s named already. I’d suggest naming it after the Mohans or Todd Armstrong, but there are certainly other opportunities.

Well, enough of that digression. I hope you enjoyed some part of this musing, as you will be unlikely to see many more of its like again, at least in semesters when I’m not on leave [73].

[1] Is that the right adjective? I write one every semester. I suppose I could call it semiannual or biannual. But I’d rather tie to the semester than to the year.

[2] Perhaps someday it will evolve into individually advised registration.

[3] I viewed that page on 15 December 2019. It may have been updated by the time you read this musing.

[4] See the prior footnote.

[5] Most students manage to clean up their schedules by the end of the semester, particularly since the paperwork gets more complex after that point.

[6] Alternative Language Study, not Lou Gehrig’s disease.

[7] Yes, I realize that the word is normally spelled Designing. But it appears in the schedule of courses with only one n.

[8] I try not to make assumptions about gender, so I’m making it a habit to use they and them as pronouns, even for people whose gender I think I know.

[9] I do not know all of the details. What I do know is that studio classes generally used to meet for two three-hour sessions per week. Some people, including me, suggested that that load was high, particularly in three-course semesters, and that the Studio Art faculty, like the Science faculty, should get 1.5 teaching credits for courses that meet six hours per week. I assume that that didn’t happen, and Studio decided to cut back to the more standard 2x80 meeting schedule.

[10] Ah, the power of SamR’s musings. Someone read in a prior musing that we might need a new person to teach CSC-105 and volunteered themselves. From what I can tell, they’ll do a great job. Strangely enough, this is not the first time that one of my comments in a musing about staffing has led to someone offering to teach a course. However, the other time it was for another department.

[11] I would suggest that most classes involve some form of creativity.

[12] I’ve given up trying to spell Bakopoulos.

[14] Or Intro Gndr, Wmn’s & Sxlty Stud, as it’s listed in the course catalog.

[15] It’s also listed as EDU-210. I’m not sure why I didn’t cover it there.

[16] But not an endnote.

[17] Or at least you would if I were teaching the course [18].

[18] Which suggests, among other things, that it’s probably a good thing that I’m not teaching the course.

[19] Andrew Sherburne ’01 is teaching the course. Andrew was a dual CS/Studio Art major. Since graduating, he’s been making documentary films and running a great movie theatre in Iowa City. I think he’s opened a second one, or at least he is helping manage a new one. Now there are two open slots. That seems strange. Since it’s a short course, I would have bribed him to offer a second section.

[20] Did you know that there was once a time in which you could not cross-list a course between a concentration and a department? Or maybe it was between a division and a department. In any case, I’m pretty sure that those restrictions are long passed.

[21] I know the answer to that: Henry Walker.

[22] I suppose some might suggest that we could tell students to choose another major. However, that does not strike me as a good idea. It may also be that some non-majors are taking [23] MAT-321. Those may seem like natural students to drop. However, if you have a student qualified to take a course like MAT-321 and qualified to take the course, it’s hard to tell them no.

[23] Or hoping to take.

[24] And yes, it still has a cap of twelve.

[25] Arnie Adelberg, Marc Chamberland [26], Gene Hermann, Chuck Jepsen, Charles Jones [27], Emily Moore, and Royce Wolfe. Emily was in a shared position with Tom Moore, who mostly taught Statistics. However, I think between the two of them, they taught the equivalent of one full person in Mathematics.

[26] Marc started the same time I did, so it’s not quite accurate to say that he was there when I started, but it’s close enough.

[27] I’ve now been at Grinnell long enough that I could no longer remember whether Jones left immediately before I arrived or soon thereafter. Fortunately, a piece he wrote for MAA news about the status of the department in Fall 1997 survives on the Interweb.

[28] We also had two other folks with Ph.D.’s in Mathematics: Henry Walker, who I believe had moved to teaching CS exclusively as part of the deal that got me hired, and Pam Ferguson, who was president of Grinnell. Coincidentally, Henry and Pam had taught Calculus together. I still remember Henry telling me that since he and Pam did different kinds of mathematics, they approached the course very differently. How’s that for interdisciplinarity?

[29] Jeff Blanchard, Marc Chamberland, Chris French, Joe Mileti, Jen Paulhus, Karen Shuman, and Royce Wolfe.

[30] I’m not saying that’s a good thing; I’m just reporting on the data.

[31] When I started, we had Tom Moore in a shared position with Emily Moore, who taught only Math [32] and Tom taught some Calculus as well as Statistics. Now we have Pam Fellers, Jeff Jonkman, and Shonda Kuiper. I think the department promised that Pam would do some math teaching when we hired her. But almost three turns out to be not enough for the demand in Statistics, either.

[32] And CS, before I arrived at Grinnell.

[33] Grinnell has a department of French and Arabic.

[34] Also called Performance courses.

[35] If I recall correctly, MUS-220 is covered under the everyone student gets a series of lessons each semester policy, but MUS-221 requires an extra fee.

[36] Plus, I would hope, some base amount.

[37] That certainly sounds like a full-time job, if not more.

[38] Don’t ask me to explain that. I had thought it was a shorthand for This person normally teaches this section, but won’t this semester. However, it is marked as Open rather than Closed, Canceled, or Balanced.

[39] There’s also an Advanced Cornetta, but I assume that’s a typo.

[40] I counted by hand, rather than using a spreadsheet, so I may be off a bit.

[41] That’s an unnecessary hyphen.

[42] Up until a few years ago, most Department chairs got a full-course release every-other year, or a half-course release each year. In a few departments with particularly large administrative burdens, such as Music, Chairs got annual full-course releases. Then we moved Chair from an expected two-year term to an expected three-year term, and the release from one every two years to two every three years. I recall being surprised in hearing that this meant that in some departments, the Chair’s release would decrease, rather than increase and, even though CS was a relatively small department at the time, I argued that those departments with high administrative burdens should still get an annual full-course release for the Chair. I recall unanimity among the faculty about retaining annual releases from some chair, but strong pushback from the Administration. I’m not sure what the conclusion was.

[43] While I know that our current system for registering incoming first-year students is fairer, I miss Harris registration. I felt like I learned something looking at where lines were forming and I appreciated the chance to talk to students face to face. Plus, since CS was not all that popular, I could wander around, hand students candy, and then ask them if they’d been taught not to accept candy from strangers.

[44] You may not be surprised to hear that section 1 was at t8:00 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

[45] The answer.

[46] Did I include that in my list of courses I’d like to take this spring? If not, I should have.

[47] My initially empty list of potential musings for 2020 is growing rapidly.

[48] The other was introductory French.

[49] More on that course in a bit.

[50] Here, as in many other places in the musing, I use We to mean the faculty (and, often, staff) of Grinnell College. I don’t necessarily mean to imply that I was involved in the decision.

[51] Workshop-style statistics was an obvious innovation. R was a less obvious one, particularly since R did not have a nice UI at the time.

[52] I write appear to because I don’t know the status of our visitors.

[53] I was going to write the need, but it’s not clear that any particular student explicitly needs either course. On the other hand, I would argue that at this time, every liberally educated student needs some statistical literacy.

[54] That reminds me: We have analog photography supplies in the basement of 1127 Park. I wonder if we can give them to the Art department. I wonder who I should talk to. I’ll work on that question next week.

[55] Chemistry is not my forte. LMS stands for Learning Management System. CMS stands for Content Management System. That suggests that LCMS stands for Learning Content Management System. No, I don’t think that’s right. As I said, Chemistry is not my strong suit.

[56] I don’t think you want to hear how I read MTHFR.

[57] Arguably, that should be C. elegans.

[58] I did not know that slugs contributed to cancer. I’ll need to keep more salt around.

[59] I don’t think that’s the kind of molecular computation that my former CS colleague, Titus Klinge, studied.

[60] I definitely have no clue about this one. But then I have little clue about most of the Chemistry titles and abbreviations [61].

[61] Some might argue that I have little clue on most topics.

[62] Heinz.

[63] I can’t parse that one, either, which suggests that a prior endnote may be more accurate than I thought.

[64] I like Brrrs, which makes me think of shivering, in the title of a research project on the climate movement. And yes, I understand that it stands for barriers.

[65] No, it’s not really a ransom. More precisely, they tell me that, We found 245 additional writing issues in this text available only for Premium users. [66]

[66] That’s a strange sentence for a grammar checker as available only for Premium users could modify not only additional writing issues but also this text.

[67] Over 8000 words, at last count.

[68] That should be obvious from this number, even though there are still a few after this one.

[69] I’m also counting the time it took to read through and organize data.

[70] That would probably require that we open another evening class time.

[71] Or the College won’t allow the appropriate department to hire you.

[72] Or, I suppose, in any department.

[73] Since I’m on leave for spring 2020, I may still be able to write one for fall 2020. We’ll see how things are going then and how much homework Ralph and Justin are giving me.

Version 1.0 of 2020-01-06.