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A University Looks at its Program

A University Looks at its Program: The Report of the University of Minnesota Bureau of Institutional Research, 1942-1952

Copyright Date: 1954
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    A University Looks at its Program
    Book Description:

    A University Looks at its Program was first published in 1954. Educational research, which first demonstrated its value in the fields of primary and secondary teaching, has been extended in comparatively recent times to the college and university level. The University of Minnesota has been a pioneer in the development of research methods to investigate problems of higher education. Its program of self-study was inaugurated in the early 1920’s under the far-seeing administration of the late Lotus D. Coffman. The 23 studies presented here are illustrative of the educational research conducted under the Minnesota plan during the decade of 1942 to 1952. They are a representative selection from a much larger number of studies sponsored during that period by the University’s Committee on Educational Research (now designated as the Committee on Institutional Research). The problems investigated are of four major types: those of a general character, such as enrollment trends or curriculum developments; those related to the undergraduate programs; those associated with specialized and graduate programs; and those connected with staff activities. The Minnesota self-study plan has been flexible and broad; no question has been considered too small to probe if its answer seemed likely to help some staff member or student group, and no proposal has been ruled out as over-ambitious if the information sought would help to build a sound program. These reports will be useful to college and university administrators, faculties, and research specialists for the clear picture they give of the scope and methods of a research program designed to help an educational institution in its long-term planning.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6223-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. Origin and Background of the Institutional Research Program
    (pp. 3-10)
    Ruth E. Eckert and Robert J. Keller

    THE University of Minnesota has long been noted for the high place it has given to research. Outstanding contributions made by the Minnesota faculty in the fields of medicine, agriculture, technology, and the sciences have been recognized internationally. Though the results have often been less colorful and dramatic, the scholarly endeavor of the staff in the humanities and social sciences has also been widely acclaimed. Research in the field of education is comparatively new, however, dating back less than half a century at Minnesota as at other American higher institutions. Even more recent has been the extension of these studies...


    • CHAPTER 1 Enrollment Trends at the University of Minnesota, 1940-50
      (pp. 13-19)
      John E. Dobbin and R. E. Summers

      THE welfare and, indeed, the very existence of a state college or university depend on how many young men and women seek higher education within its walls. Studies of enrollment trends can be helpful to institutions in their long-term planning, and can provide “behind the scenes” pictures of university populations in a graphic and meaningful way.

      Though college enrollments may fluctuate from time to time because of incidental or transient factors, the major determinants of future enrollment will usually be found in long-term trends. Depressions or wars enrollments to depart temporarily, one way or another, from expected outcomes but do...

    • CHAPTER 2 Home Residence of Students Enrolled at the University of Minnesota
      (pp. 20-23)
      Ruth E. Eckert

      THE place where a student lives often has much to do with his chance of attending college. As several studies have shown, factors of geography are often more influential in determining whether a young person will go to college than actual ability to profit from further work. The present study was designed to find out how well the University has been serving qualified youth throughout Minnesota.

      The basic data were obtained from the 1940–41 University Address Book, including the winter and spring supplements. While the number of names listed for that year (which had been chosen for an intensive...

    • CHAPTER 3 Changes in Educational Plans of University of Minnesota Students
      (pp. 24-30)
      Robert J. Keller and R. E. Summers

      THE first of the two studies reported in this chapter identifies some of the reasons why young people decide not to come to the University after declaring an intent to matriculate; the second is concerned with finding out why many students drop out of the University before completing their programs. Other studies in this series have been reported previously.¹ They provide information about the academic abilities and achievement of students at this University, their chances for completing the work they undertake, and the relation of certain personal characteristics to student retention.

      The purpose of this first inquiry was to survey...

    • CHAPTER 4 Grading Practices at the University of Minnesota
      (pp. 31-36)
      Robert J. Keller and George B. Void

      IN THE winter quarter of 1948 the University Senate Committee on Education received from the All-University Congress a student complaint and request for action. The complaint concerned the grading of graduate students “on the same curve”with undergraduates in courses attended by both types of students. At about the same time the Arts Intermediary Board made a similar plea to the Advisory Committee of the S.L.A. College.

      A subcommittee was appointed in January 1948 by the Senate Committee on Education to study the whole problem of grading practices at the University and to bring in a report. It was charged with...

    • CHAPTER 5 Ten-Year Study of Curriculum Development
      (pp. 37-44)
      Ruth E. Eckert

      A TEN-YEAR study of the University’s educational program was instituted in 1943 to aid various colleges and departments in their postwar planning. Covering the decade 1931-41, this investigation was concerned with curriculum growth and modification in six divisions: the General College; the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts; the College Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics; the School of Business Administration; the Institute of Technology; and the College of Education. Although the information was gathered and analyzed for individual departments, the present summary is largely limited to findings for colleges as a whole.

      Designed to extend and supplement information secured...


    • CHAPTER 6 A Follow-up Study of Former Students in the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts
      (pp. 47-63)
      Robert J. Keller and Russell M. Cooper

      WHAT happens to students who begin their college programs in the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts? How do these young men and women evaluate their college experiences? What factors seem related to their present status and accomplishments? To what extent have their college experiences helped them in their present jobs, family life, community activities? These were the main questions to which the study sought answers.

      This survey of former S.L.A. College students was jointly sponsored by College of Science, Literature, and the Arts and the Bureau of Institutional Research. As one in a series of follow-up studies of...

    • CHAPTER 7 Postwar Research in the General College
      (pp. 64-77)
      Henry Borow and H. T. Morse

      AS AN experiment in higher education, the General College was designed to serve two purposes: (1) to determine whether it might be educationally feasible, and more economical, to gather into a separate college those young men and women who might not be expected to complete a four-year college program; (2) to provide for these young people a new type of curriculum which would emphasize broad fields of knowledge in a program which departed from the more intensive and traditional departmental approach. Because it is an experiment, the General College has constantly been aware of the need to appraise and reappraise...

    • CHAPTER 8 Analyses of Programs Provided by the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts
      (pp. 78-89)
      Ruth E. Eckert and Joseph M. Thomas

      A DISTINGUISHED university constantly seeks to enrich the opportunities it provides for advanced study and research. For it recognizes that it thus uniquely supplements the basic collegiate programs offered in hundreds of independent colleges and in its own undergraduate divisions. Several studies of graduate education and faculty research activities reported in this volume attest to the University of Minnesota’s concern in this area.

      Yet the vast majority of students who enroll at this University, as in others throughout the country, come for undergraduate study only. Their campus experiences will unquestionably have much to do with their later effectiveness, both socially...

    • CHAPTER 9 Survey of Library Services to Undergraduates
      (pp. 90-103)
      Ruth E. Eckert, E. B. Stanford and Robert J. Keller

      TODAY the libraries of American universities are vast storehouses of human knowledge and culture, quiet strongholds of the Western world. To make these resources of the human mind readily accessible to students and scholars, and to aid in their discriminating use, is the special responsibility of college library staffs.

      Keenly aware of the central role of the library in an educational program, the University of Minnesota has constantly sought to improve its facilities and services in this field. Some changes have promoted the research activities of graduate students and faculty members; others have sought to make the library a better...

    • CHAPTER 10 An Experimental Study in Elementary College Physics
      (pp. 104-117)
      Haym Kruglak and C. Raymond Carlson

      NUMEROUS studies in science education have compared the outcomes of instruction by lecture-demonstration with those of the individuallaboratory method. In 1946 Cunningham¹ examined and evaluated thirty-seven investigations dealing with this problem but was unable to conclude from the evidence which of the two methods was superior. Such a conclusion was precluded in some studies by inadequate experimental design, in others by obsolete statistical techniques, inadequate evaluating instruments, hazy formulation of the problem, or insufficient description of procedure. All these weaknesses indicate a need for additional research.

      The outcomes of laboratory instruction are of special interest and importance in the elementary...

    • CHAPTER 11 Measurement of Communication Skills
      (pp. 118-122)
      Ralph G. Nichols, James I. Brown and Robert J. Keller

      THE traditional freshman composition course in the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics at the University of Minnesota was replaced in 1946-47 by a new communication program identified as Rhetoric 1-2-3. Although the communication training continued to be concerned with improvement in writing skill, new and additional emphasis was placed upon improving the other three skills of verbal communication — reading, speaking, and listening.

      Preliminary activities necessary in initiating this program consisted of the selection of available measures of communication skills; the development of new measures of communication skills; and the study of communication and other skills to determine which...

    • CHAPTER 12 Prediction of Academic Success at the University of Minnesota, Duluth Branch
      (pp. 123-126)
      Valworth R. Plumb

      THE present study concerns the predictive value of certain types of data for students entering the Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota. Two aspects of the problem have been considered: the “general” prediction of academic success, as it is measured by the over-all honor-point ratio for the first year of work; and the “differential” prediction of success in specific courses, as measured by honor-point ratios in those courses. The investigation is essentially a correlational study.

      Prediction of general academic success was based upon 421 students (258 men and 163 women) who entered the Duluth Branch in the fall quarter...


    • CHAPTER 13 Curriculum Evaluation by Former Students of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics
      (pp. 129-133)
      Keith N. McFarland and Margaret G. Abernathy

      THE extent to which students’ college experiences contribute to their post-college activities is one measure of the effectiveness of any school program. To determine the relationship between curriculum experiences the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics and postcollege work experiences, questionnaires were sent to 1064 individuals randomly selected from those who graduated from the college during years 1931-40 and 1946-49, and to 804 students who had withdrawn prior to graduation during the years 1937-40 and 1946-49. Attitudes toward college experiences were sought as well as suggestions and recommendations for curricular change. Completed questionnaires were returned by 837, or 79...

    • CHAPTER 14 Prediction of Achievement in Sophomore Engineering Physics
      (pp. 134-137)
      Haym Kruglak and Robert J. Keller

      AT THE University of Minnesota all students in the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts who are majoring in physics, chemistry, or mathematics, and practically all students in the Institute of Technology, are required to take three quarters of general physics (Physics 7-8-9), usually in the sophomore year. This sequence is taught by means of four lectures, a full-period written examination, and a two-hour laboratory session per week. Achievement in each of the three courses is measured grades are assigned on the basis of weekly test scores (50 to 60 cent of the grade), a laboratory grade (20 per...

    • CHAPTER 15 Medical Students’ Attitudes toward Psychiatry
      (pp. 138-142)
      William Schofield, Frank Kiesler and John E. Stecklein

      BEGINNING in 1946, extensive revisions were made in the undergraduate curriculum in psychiatry for medical students. Revisions involved both alterations in the previously existing courses for junior and senior students and the addition of new courses at the freshman and sophomore levels. The new courses were directed toward restructuring unsophisticated, if not antagonistic, attitudes toward psychiatric principles by “organic-minded” young medical students.

      To evaluate the effect of the new courses on student attitudes, an attitude scale was developed and administered to all freshman and sophomore medical students in the fall of 1947, both at the beginning and at the end...

    • CHAPTER 16 Studies of the University Agricultural School Program
      (pp. 143-152)
      Ruth E. Eckert and Henry Schmitz

      SINCE Minnesota is a predominantly agricultural state, the education of its farm boys and girls has always been of special concern to the University of Minnesota. A College of Agriculture, established in 1869, was among the first units founded. But this program developed slowly during its first thirty years, since many people believed that agricultural education should appropriately be offered at the high school level instead. In response to this latter demand, the University Board of Regents established a school of practical agriculture in St. Paul in 1886. Modified the following year to supplement practical work with a regular program...

    • CHAPTER 17 Relationships between Objective and Oral Examinations in Psychology
      (pp. 153-156)
      Charles Bird, Kenneth E. Clark and Paul E. Meehl

      IN DECEMBER 1946, the University Committee on Institutional Research reported favorable action on a proposed investigation into objective tests in a two-quarter course in introductory abnormal psychology. This study was motivated by a desire on the part of the psychology staff to encourage students to integrate and apply their knowledge of the dynamics and manifestations of abnormal behavior, and to measure more adequately their understanding of them.

      Before World War II, when class enrollment was smaller, objective examinations could be supplemented by a case history which the student knew would count considerably in determining his final grade in the course....

    • CHAPTER 18 A Follow-up Study of Minnesota Ph.D.’s: Their General Characteristics
      (pp. 157-168)
      Harold E. Mitzel and Robert J. Keller

      EDUCATIONAL institutions, in seeking to take stock of their curricular programs, frequently ask their graduates for information as to their achievements, their jobs, their contributions to community life, and their evaluations of their educational experiences. The present study seeks to discover how University of Minnesota Ph.D.’s use and appraise their graduate education.

      Information and evaluations supplied by alumni can provide important source material for discussion and action on present-day problems of graduate education. Many graduate schools, for example, are now weighing the relative merits of high specialization and advanced general education; they are exploring the possibilities of changing certain longstanding...

    • CHAPTER 19 Graduate Students in Education
      (pp. 169-175)
      Ruth E. Eckert

      WHILE the striking gains in graduate enrollments in education since World War II have accentuated the need for studies of those who pursue these advanced programs, the problems investigated in this study are crucial ones in the whole field of advanced education. For this study was planned to provide information of three general kinds:

      1. The proportionatenumbersof graduate students specializing in education, their distribution among various degree programs provided in this field, and significant trends with respect to such enrollments.

      2. Thecharacteristicsof graduate students in education: age, home residence, sex, prior educational experiences, and academic abilities...

    • CHAPTER 20 Studies of Foreign Language Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
      (pp. 176-186)
      Ruth E. Eckert and Dwight E. Minnich

      THE validity of the foreign language requirement usually set for advanced degrees has been questioned by many people in recent years. Should all graduates for the be expected to demonstrate at least a reading knowledge of French and German? Realizing that well-established practices may require examination in the light of new needs, the dean of the Graduate School at Minnesota appointed a committee in 1945 to study the local situation and to formulate recommendations.¹

      Attitudes and practices with respect to the foreign language requirement were studied in several different ways. Following three exploratory investigations, two more comprehensive studies were...


    • CHAPTER 21 Wartime Survey of University Faculty Status
      (pp. 189-192)
      F. Stuart Chapin

      DURING World War II many professionally outstanding faculty members left the University of Minnesota for military service, or for special services in war industries. These faculty losses were in addition to the normal losses due to death, retirement, and resignation. Reduced in numbers and perhaps in quality, the faculty faced the certain prospect of large increases in University enrollment at the war’s end. The question that logically emerged in such a situation was this: How well prepared is the faculty to meet this greater demand on its energies and resources?

      Recognizing the vital importance of this question to the future...

    • CHAPTER 22 Faculty Promotion Policies and Practices
      (pp. 193-196)
      Robert J. Keller and John E. Dobbin

      THE dignity and prestige of a state university, as indeed of any college, rests on the shoulders of its faculty. For the praise or condemnation which public opinion directs toward a state institution depends primarily upon the intellectual attainments, community services, and individual behaviors of the teaching and research staff. While the behavior of a student body (and certainly any misbehavior) tends to color public attitudes, the more thoughtful and mature public bases its opinions of the university on society’s approval or disapproval of the academic staff.

      To attract a well-trained and promising faculty is a vital administrative job. In...

    • CHAPTER 23 Student Ratings of College Teaching
      (pp. 197-212)
      Kenneth E. Clark and Robert J. Keller

      MOST instructors succeed in letting students in their courses know whether they have done well or poorly. If in no other way, students learn this from the grades they receive — and the grading procedure seems to be based on the assumption that such grades are of considerable value in motivating them to learn.

      A reversed relationship, in which the instructor is formally evaluated by his students, is much more rarely found. When it is found, it is considerably less routinized and well structured. Yet many persons are convinced that student evaluation of this sort would do much toward improving instruction....

  8. Index
    (pp. 215-223)