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ratory who assists, and very little of the actual work devolves upon the instructor.
PROFESSOR WILLISTON: I think that this list calls our attention rather forcibly to the difference that there is in the practice of different schools. In the University of Illinois the practice apparently is to devote very much more time to the preparation of lectures than to the preparation of other kinds of work; next is the preparation for recitations. The same amount of time is devoted to the preparation for drawing-room exercises, for designing and for laboratory work. No preparation is required for shop-work. Instructors in the latter subjects therefore can carry a larger number of instruction hours on their schedules than instructors in other subjects.
At Pratt Institute, for example, the conditions would be very different. There the men who are handling large classes in the machine-shops, the foundry, the forge-shop, or the pattern-shop, are able to carry fewer instruction hours per week than the men who have recitations in mathematics, physics or applied mechanics. The majority of the latter instructors are assigned from eighteen to twenty hours of recitation per week, while the average for the shop instructors would be from sixteen to eighteen hours per week actually spent with classes, the balance of their time being spent in preparation.
DEAN RAYMOND: Did I understand Dean White to say that he wished these figures to be taken as relative figures and not as indicating his opinion of the number of students that can be taught in a class ?
DEAN WHITE: The first column gives the number of
students in each different class of subjects which in the opinion of our faculty can be as efficiently taught as twenty-five can be in a recitation subject such as algebra or German.
DEAN RAYMOND: Then I suppose a point in the discussion might be one's opinion as to these figures ?
DEAN WHITE: Yes.
DEAN RAYMOND: I cannot teach efficiently twentyfive students at once in any subject I ever tried. I can lecture to perhaps almost as many men as I can get within the range of my voice. I doubt very much if thirty men could be taught efficiently by one teacher in one drawing period. In field-work I cannot teach twenty men at once and have efficient work done. There ought to be one instructor for every party the size of an ordinary railroad party, say, ten to fourteen. The other work I am not so familiar with, and the figures come nearer to my notion of what might be. But 25 in recitation, 30 in drawing, and 20 in field-work are too many. I think fifteen is a good number for recitation with twenty as the maximum.
PROFESSOR A. N. TALBOT: These returns are opinions given on the basis of the number which may be handled as efficiently as twenty-five students can be handled in the recitation room. I do not understand that Dean White has given his opinion that twentyfive should be handled in the recitation room. Referring to Professor Williston's remarks, it is to be considered that the course in any one of these subjects has been fully outlined and that all preparation for it, like notes or plans, has been made in advance.
PROFESSOR WEBB: This discussion as to the best way to teach large classes has so far been conducted upon the supposition that as the classes become larger the number of teachers can be suitably increased. In my work the problem has taken another form, which may be worth your consideration.
Suppose that a professor has charge of the junior and senior classes in some advanced subjects for which each of them comes to him three times a week, and that he must prepare his lectures, his blackboard and other illustrations and his models, and look over and mark frequent written recitations and problems without any help, besides attending to matters of attendance, order and discipline, examining conditioned students, meeting committees and making frequent reports such as may be expected in any institution conducted on the card-index plan. Suppose that he finds that he can do this efficiently with small classes and that the numbers increase, say from twenty-five to one hundred in each class, so as to impair the efficiency. What is the best thing to do if no help is given him?
If the subject is given by lectures he can in a properly appointed room take the whole class at once, and he can give occasional written recitations and look over the papers afterwards, and do this with a measure of success if all the students are in earnest and he has their attention, and if students who fall behind are dropped back. But he will be overworked and unable to keep up with the literature of his subjects, let alone doing any outside work in them, and he will know that his teaching was better when the classes were small. Now shall he divide the classes and if so into what size sections? If he tries them in sections of twenty-five each he must spend twentyfour hours per week in the classroom and find most of his energy gone when he escapes from it, but he will have as many recitations and problems to look over as ever, besides which extra time will be needed in preparing his lectures so as to keep the different sections together and be sure that the same explanations are given to all the sections. It will therefore be impossible to teach them in four sections each and the question is can he expend his stock of energy most efficiently upon the class as a whole or would it be better to divide it into say two sections? Or to put it mathematically as a question of maxima and minima, given a large number N of students, and a fixed amount E of teaching energy, per week, each student to spend H hours weekly in the classroom, required the number n of sections for the best result.
THE NEW ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING BUILDING AT THE WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC
BY HAROLD B. SMITH,
AND BY ARTHUR W. FRENCH,
Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The new building which has been erected the past year, as a home for the department of electrical engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been developed along lines which are in many respects unique among buildings of its class and a description seems worthy of presentation before this Society as of probable interest to many of its members.
The department of electrical engineering was established at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the year 1896, and space was assigned for its work in the Salisbury Laboratories and in the Power laboratory, which was ample for the first few years, but rapidly became inadequate, as may be seen from the following table showing the growth in registration of students taking the electrical engineering course at the institute.