Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

APPENDIX No. VIII1 REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON IMPROVING INSTRUCTION IN HARVARD COLLEGE

ON the 27th of May, 1902, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted:

"That a committee be appointed to inquire and report what further measures may be advantageously taken to improve the quality of the work done in satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts."

This vote, it will be observed, applies to Harvard College only; and though any scheme affecting the College must in some way affect the Graduate School and the Lawrence Scientific School also, the Committee has kept in mind the limit set by the Faculty to its commission, and has made no investigation of courses designed exclusively for Scientific students. In the courses examined, however, inquiries have not been limited to the undergraduates of the College.

Early in the deliberations of the Committee, it became clear that neither the Faculty nor any member of the Faculty possessed accurate and detailed knowledge of the methods and the efficiency of instruction in all the different courses, and that the Committee, if it would speak intelligently, must get such knowledge. The Committee undertook, therefore, to obtain information both from the instructors and from the students; and with this object it sent two circular letters of inquiry -- copies of which are appended to this report -- one to the head of every course conducted in the academic year 1901-02, the other to students in each course, the number of students varying with the size of the course. The students were selected by a special clerk, who took from the official list of the members of each course the names of men (still at the University) representing every grade of scholarship found in the course; and as the clerk had no other knowledge of the men, the selection within each grade was virtually by lot. The circulars to students were numbered; and the signatures of the students -- numbered correspondingly -- were written on detachable slips, which were removed and filed by the clerk, and have not been seen by any one else. From the instructors 245 replies were received; from the students 1757. The grades of the students who replied were as follows: A, 540; B, 560; C, 375; D, 210; E, 72.

The large proportion of A and B men is due in part to the fact that

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