IF THERE is any more difficult question than what to do about the beginning course, the committee has not discovered it. During the progress of our investigations we heard of the experiences of a committee of a related discipline which reminded us of our own. Toward the end of a four-year study, one of the members of the group was asked, "What will your major conclusions be?" To this he replied half seriously, half facetiously, "The profession can't agree on the beginning course, and our major recommendation is that the Association continue to study the question."
What is the beginning course? What are the trends, the problems, and the attempted solutions, so far as they are known? These are the questions with which the present chapter will be concerned.
Throughout the profession the term "beginning course" has come to have wide currency and a generally understood connotation. It is the course that is open to underclassmen without prerequisites; it is the gateway to further study in the field; it is known as the basic or introductory course.
To define the beginning course is not always as simple as it seems, however. For example, the committee discovered that in about two thirds of the institutions reporting, the beginning course is the only one open to underclass elections. But consider! In the case of no less than 79 departments, however, there are other courses which are also called beginning courses, there being, apparently, some that are in direct competition with the beginning course.1 International relations, elementary theory____________________