The Effective General College Curriculum as Revealed by Examinations

The Effective General College Curriculum as Revealed by Examinations

Committee on Educational Research
Copyright Date: 1937
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 443
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsvp7
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  • Book Info
    The Effective General College Curriculum as Revealed by Examinations
    Book Description:

    The Effective General College Curriculum as Revealed by Examinations was first published in 1937. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. This volume, authored by the Committee on Education Research of the University of Minnesota, is the ninth in a series dealing with obstacles and challenges in college education. The General College of the University of Minnesota was established in 1932 as an experiment in giving students who cannot spend four years or more in college as broad a cultural education as possible. This book sketches the development of the program, tells how that program operates and what its objectives are, and describes in detail the several courses and the examinations that have been devised to measure its success. Part I contains introductory chapters by President Coffman, Melvin E. Haggerty, Dean of the College of Education, Malcolm S. MacLean, director of the General College, and Professors Alvin C. Eurich and Palmer O. Johnson, examination counselors. Each chapter in Part II, “The Comprehensive Examination Areas,” deals with a specific field: contemporary affairs, history and government, economics, euthenics, psychology, art, physical science, biological science, and English. Each chapter is written by well-qualified authorities in their respective fields, and gives course content as well as examples and results of the tests by which the General College measures the growth of the individual student in judgment, in ability to solve problems, and in appreciation of the arts. Part III contains studies of related problems.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3766-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  3. PART I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ADEQUATE EXAMINATIONS
    • I. THE EFFECTIVE COLLEGE CURRICULUM
      (pp. 3-11)
      Melvin E. Haggerty

      In a variety of ways the University of Minnesota has sought, during the past twenty years, to inform itself concerning the value and effectiveness of its own activities. Important educational and administrative problems have been studied with a view to improved practices. They have been real problems, problems that have arisen in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and administrative offices, problems that have been suggested for investigation by persons having a desire to discover new information. Many persons, from many departments, have devoted themselves to these investigations; some of them have required considerable time and money. It would be proper also to...

    • II. ORGANIZATION OF THE GENERAL COLLEGE
      (pp. 12-30)
      Malcolm S. MacLean

      The General College of the University of Minnesota is a cooperative department. Though its administration is centralized in a small office, an assistant director, and a director responsible to and under the guidance of the President, its work is carried on by many agencies of the University. Its courses are for the most part taught by staff members from the colleges of Science, Literature and Arts; Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics; Education; and Medicine; the School of Business Administration; the Institute of Child Welfare; and the Institute of Technology. Occasional lectures are given by members of the faculties of Nursing,...

    • III. THE EXPERIMENTAL EXAMINATION PROGRAM IN THE GENERAL COLLEGE
      (pp. 31-42)
      Alvin C. Eurich and Palmer O. Johnson

      The inadequacy of achievement tests is nowhere more evident than in a research program of college problems. For more than fifteen years the University of Minnesota, through its Committee on Educational Research, has been identified with a movement to investigate perplexing problems in higher education. Studies of administrative, curricular, and instructional problems have been made, the results of which have led to spirited discussions and in some instances to modifications of practices on the college campuses of the country. Much of this research has involved the use of examinations: studies of class size, prerequisite courses, the permanence of learning in...

  4. PART II. THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION AREAS
    • IV. CONTEMPORARY AFFAIRS STUDIES
      (pp. 45-62)
      Alvin C. Eurich, Edgar Weaver and Elmo C. Wilson

      The comprehensive examination in contemporary affairs has developed through several stages and in various relationships to courses offered in the curriculum of the General College. During the first year, 1932–33, there was no one course planned to orient the student in the “world of affairs” — the world of politics, economics, art in its various manifestations, including literature, sports, current scientific achievements, and especially the persons and personalities who parade the scene. There were, however, courses that incidentally furnished the student with information or a point of view that would help him in taking an examination in contemporary affairs....

    • V. HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT STUDIES
      (pp. 63-95)
      Edgar B. Wesley

      The usual testing program on the college level involves a mere fraction of the content of the course which it is supposed to cover. Great areas of the actual curriculum are never evaluated in terms of their effectiveness. The General College has made earnest efforts to reduce the number of these unevaluated areas; through the systematic and persistent efforts of counselors, assistants, and instructors it has expanded the area of its examinations until their aggregate content is almost coextensive with the content of the courses. Particularly is this true of the field of history and government. The present study has...

    • VI. ECONOMIC STUDIES
      (pp. 96-111)
      Edgar B. Wesley and Palmer O. Johnson

      The area of economic studies, as now constituted in the General College curriculum, consists of three courses: (1) Our Economic Life, (2) Basic Wealth, and (3) Earth and Man. Each of these is a year course with classes meeting three times a week.

      The analysis presented in this chapter is designed to point out the salient features of the studies comprising the economic area, and to show to what extent the examination program has tested the materials and objectives of instruction.

      The topical outlines are syntheses of the content of examinations and materials of instruction as obtained from lecture notes...

    • VII. EUTHENICS STUDIES
      (pp. 112-143)
      Clara M. Brown

      The subject of euthenics relates to the betterment of living conditions to make more efficient human beings. The term first came before the public when a course with this name was organized a few years ago at Vassar College. Later the same name was applied to an area in the General College at the University of Minnesota, the particular units taught varying from year to year with the demand for the different aspects of the work and with the instructors who were available to teach them.

      Because of this shifting content it is impossible to make some of the comparisons...

    • VIII. PSYCHOLOGY STUDIES
      (pp. 144-171)
      Alvin C. Eurich and Howard P. Longstaff

      The courses in the area known as psychology studies changed considerably during the first three years of the General College program. In 1932–33 Practical Applications of Psychology, How to Study, and Human Development and Personal Adjustment were included within the group. During the second year the third course was placed in the euthenics group. Straight and Crooked Thinking was added in the third year.

      The comprehensive examination in psychology given in the spring of 1933 contained 641 items, 267 of which covered the content of How to Study, measuring primarily the knowledge of facts and principles. At the end...

    • IX. ARTS STUDIES
      (pp. 172-214)
      Ray Faulkner and Gerald Hill

      The arts studies are non-technical courses in the drama, motion pictures, plastic and graphic arts, and music, planned to stimulate the layman’s interest by giving him a better understanding of the art with which he is apt to come in contact and by introducing him to art products that he might not otherwise know. The course content and methods are based on the assumption that art is not an activity divorced from life, reserved for a few, but an integral part of everyone’s life. Consequently there are no prerequisites for the courses, nor is the student expected to possess any...

    • X. PHYSICAL SCIENCE STUDIES
      (pp. 215-252)
      Palmer O. Johnson

      The physical science area, as it now appears in the General College curriculum, is the result of integrating a group of courses dealing with special and interrelated branches of physical science. As used here, physical science is understood to embrace chemical as well as strictly physical phenomena. At first the group consisted of the courses Chemistry and Physics, Technology, and Astronomy; later one other was added — Relations of Sound to Music, an expanded form of the course Making Music, which had been given during the winter quarter of 1932–33. The courses in Chemistry and Physics and in Descriptive...

    • XI. BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE STUDIES
      (pp. 253-273)
      Palmer O. Johnson

      With constantly increasing additions to scientific knowledge and their application to every phase of contemporary life, especially to those aspects that touch directly the lives of all of us, the layman’s interest in such scientific information has been aroused. He has come to realize that he may be practically benefited by keeping in touch with the scientist’s observations and interpretations.

      To meet the layman’s need, a biological science sequence has been introduced into the curriculum of the General College. The administrators of the sequence have striven continuously to select, from the vast and bewildering mass of scientific material, the basic...

    • XII. ENGLISH STUDIES
      (pp. 274-300)
      F. S. Appel

      The courses in English studies attempted to contribute directly to the objectives set up for the General College by organizing the course objectives and the teaching and examination procedures on the basis of those main objectives. In this aim they were greatly aided by the fact that the director of the College, Dr. Malcolm S. MacLean, lectured in some of the English courses and actively advised the work in the rest.

      The objectives for the course in Current Reading were few: to provide an overview of contemporary literature, to stimulate thinking on contemporary problems, and to present the processes involved...

  5. PART III. RELATED STUDIES
    • XIII. A STUDY OF SUBSEQUENT ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF GENERAL COLLEGE TRANSFER STUDENTS
      (pp. 303-307)
      Alvin C. Eurich

      The chief function of the General College is to provide a broad general education rather than specialized training. It breaks completely with the traditional freshman-sophomore curriculum in that no attempt is made to prepare students for any of the professional schools or for the upper division work in the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts. It offers no prerequisites for advanced work in any other college. Furthermore, it sets up no prerequisites for its own courses. Students elect whatever courses they wish to follow and arrange the sequences to suit their needs and interests.

      It is not surprising that...

    • XIV. AN APPLICATION OF FACTOR ANALYSES TO A SET OF ACHIEVEMENT TESTS
      (pp. 308-315)
      Palmer O. Johnson and Robert W. B. Jackson

      The two-factor and multiple-factor hypotheses have been applied to the analyses of mental tests with varying degrees of success. In the two-factor theory one general factor plus many specific factors, independent of each other and of “g,” are assumed. In some cases group factors need to be postulated in order to account satisfactorily for the non-vanishing tetrads. In other words, the measure of every different ability of any person can be resolved into two factors, of which one is always the same, and the other always independent, i. e.,\[\begin{array}{cc} x_{1} = m_{1}\, g + n_{1}\,s_{1}\\ x_{2} = m_{2}\, g + n_{2}\,s_{2}\\ \end{array}\]

      Wherex1andx2are the scores obtained by the...

    • XV. PROGRESS OF GENERAL COLLEGE STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS
      (pp. 316-324)
      Mary L. Elveback

      At the first meeting of the General College mathematics class in the fall of 1935, a placement test was given to 125 students. Of these, 78 completed the course and took the test again on the first day of the winter quarter. The following tabulation shows that these 78 were representative of the larger group.

      The placement test consisted of 68 items on elementary algebra, with a possible score of 113. A few representative items are given in Table 1 below. At the right are tabulated the percentages of correct responses made by the General College students in the fall,...

    • XVI. CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE DIFFERENTIATING CAPACITY OF TEST ITEMS
      (pp. 325-332)
      Mary L. Elveback

      The function of an examination item is to classify students according to their achievement; the number of possible scores on the item determine the number of levels of achievement to be considered. Thus everything that affects the scores of the students must be thought of as part of the item, and an item analysis must take into account the following factors:

      1. The nature of the information or analysis required.

      2. The statement of the question.

      3. The amount of time allowed for answering.

      4. The average difficulty or percentage of correct responses.

      5. The method of scoring.

      For example, the question “When was Napoleon...

    • XVII. THE EFFECT OF WEEKLY TESTS UPON ACHIEVEMENT IN PSYCHOLOGY
      (pp. 333-347)
      Alvin C. Eurich, Howard P. Longstaff and Marion Wilder

      The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which knowledge of improvement as measured by weekly examinations motivates students to greater final achievement in a psychology course, and to evaluate experimentally certain criticisms of the existing marking system. Educators frequently criticize the marking system now employed at the university level by maintaining that the method of basing marks on the student’s final standing in the class disregards the actual amount he has improved and indicates only hisstatus quo. They cite as an example the occasional student who at the beginning of the course has a sufficient...

    • XVIII. TECHNICAL VOCABULARY IN GENERAL COLLEGE SCIENCE
      (pp. 348-374)
      Palmer O. Johnson

      The lectures and reference works connected with General College courses yield vocabulary lists which provide a basis for the extraction of items for both the course and the comprehensive examinations. But there are other uses to which these vocabulary lists may be put. They may be made available to the student so that he may know the vocabulary requisite to a comprehensive knowledge of a given field. If the lists are broken up into units closely related to the various lecture topics and made available to the student previous to instruction, they enable him to follow the lectures and reference...

    • XIX. AN APPLICATION OF BIOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE
      (pp. 375-377)
      Palmer O. Johnson

      In view of the aim of the General College, to make instruction function in the everyday life of its students, it is important that the examination program include measures of outcomes not generally incorporated in the commonly constructed examination. Below is reported the administration of a measuring instrument designed to detect the changes that occurred in the reactions of students toward certain situations that bear a relation to, but are not included in, their regular course of instruction. The data were collected in the spring quarter of Human Biology, 1934. The measuring instrument, constructed for the purpose of the investigation,...

    • XX. THE ACHIEVEMENT OF EDUCATIONAL VALUES
      (pp. 378-388)
      Palmer O. Johnson and Alvin C. Eurich

      Pretesting for knowledge at the beginning of a course is desirable at any educational level, but when new courses are being developed, as in the General College, it is especially valuable in that it allows for the preparation of course content appropriate to the student’s background. There is also an increasing interest in pretesting as an aid in making a more accurate estimate of progress of both individuals and groups, and in formulating bases which will aid in attaining desirable rates of progress. The General College examination program includes arrangements for such initial determination of knowledge. The following discussion considers...

    • XXI. THE EFFICIENCY OF A GROUP OF EXAMINATIONS
      (pp. 389-406)
      Alvin C. Eurich

      Analyses of examinations for given areas or fields of subject matter have been presented in Part II of the present volume. There is need also for a summary of the data derived from a representative group of examinations covering all fields of the experimental examination program. The procedure followed in the construction and evaluation of the tests has been described in Chapter III, but nowhere is there a general picture of the results for all examinations. The reliability of individual tests or groups of tests has been considered, but not the relation of these coefficients to a representative group of...

  6. Appendix. Test Situations Developed by the Committee on Educational Research
    (pp. 407-427)