Toward Improving Ph. D. Programs

By Ernest V. Hollis | Go to book overview

Introduction

AWORD is in order at the outset about the nature of the material discussed in this report. The evidence presented for consideration is of three kinds. First there is a historical sketch to show that the dynamics of American graduate schools have their origin in cultural conditioning. This is followed by an analysis of the preparation and 1940 placement of a decade's doctoral graduates. The effectiveness of current graduate education is then appraised by compilations of the opinion of producing and employing groups, and of recipients of the Ph.D. degree themselves, especially as to how programs and procedures could be improved. The whole of this evidence is then used as a base for a series of general proposals representing the author's convictions.

It will be noted that the study is thus in large measure a group venture. Persons responsible for educating and employing doctoral graduates have pooled their experience in the interests of learning how to do a better job. The primary responsibility of the Commission's representative in this connection has been that of analysing this composite experience, sifting and weighing the issues disclosed, and indicating the implications for future policy. The testimony to be presented has, however, not been selected for the purposes of an advocate or to support a preconceived theory. No attempt has been made to minimize the uncertainty and even discord that actually characterize the current situation in graduate practice. Multiple testimony of this kind seldom adds up to wholesale indictment or vindication. In this instance it will be seen to contain much hearty approval as well as exasperation.

For all its cooperative nature, on the other hand, the study has been guided and its interpretation influenced by two fundamental assumptions of the author. Neither is fully accepted by a majority of all graduate faculties. The first defines the graduate

-vii-

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