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THE SIX-DAY SYSTEM AT THE UNIVERSITY

OF MINNESOTA.

BY FRANK H. CONSTANT, Professor of Structural Engineering, University of Minnesota. Prior to September, 1904, Monday was the nominal weekly holiday at the University of Minnesota in the College of Science, Literature and Arts and in the College of Engineering. No recitations or lectures were held on this day, but the difficulties of the program committee and of the individual instructors in finding hours for their work gradually opened up this day for laboratory, shop and drawing work. Saturday afternoon, although nominally a work day, was actually a half holiday for most students, and owing to the attraction of athletic games generally held at this time, few professors were willing to have their work scheduled for that time. Recitative and lecture work was thus practically concentrated into four and a half days, with a certain amount of laboratory and shop work overflowing into the sixth day.

The movement to utilize all six working days was originated in the College of Science, Literature and Arts. In that college the change was a momentous one and was accompanied by two equally important innovations which in the minds of most people are linked with the six-day movement, viz:

(a) To change most subjects from four to three hours per week and to require each student to carry five subjects instead of four, the total number of hours for the four years being the same as before.

(6) To introduce a more purely elective system modified by a series of sequences.

After three years the system has its adherents and opponents in that college, but upon examination it is found that generally the opposition is centered in the associated three-hour elective system rather than upon the six-day arrangement per se. The principal argument advanced against the latter will be given in its place.

The movement came at a time when the rapidly growing number of students in the College of Engineering, and the increasing number of sections without additional housing for them, made the work of the program committee exceedingly difficult. This college fell in line with the academic department, and, so far as I know, during the three years since its adoption there has been no opposition to it. The accompanying plates give the programs for the College of Engineering for the second semester of 1903-04, the year preceding the adoption of the six-day system, and for the second semester of the year just completed, respectively. In the latter it will be noticed that the bulk of the lecture work still comes between Tuesday and Saturday, inclusive; while, with the exception of mathematics and physics, Monday is still largely a laboratory, shop and drawing day. But a more generous amount of the latter work is now put into that day than formerly, and the program committee has the privilege of putting in as much more as it deems necessary or advisable. It will also be noticed that Saturday afternoon is kept open in both schemes. A study of last semester's program will

bring out the significant fact that were it now attempted to concentrate all of the student work into four and a half days, assuming class rooms and instructors enough for such congestion, in nearly every such case each student would be attending classes during practically all of the working hours of the week. In four and a half days there are thirty-six available class hours. The schedule shows the following number of required class-hours for each of the four years of the civil engineering section: Freshman, 36; sophomore, 36; junior, 34; senior, 33.

The schedules for the other departments, with the larger amounts of shopwork, are just as bad. The writer is aware that some of this work may be thrown into the summer, and that the number of hours should, in the judgment of some, be reduced. Each of these is a separate question which this paper will not attempt to discuss. As a matter of fact, the college has shown no disposition to reduce the number of studenthours, and accepting this as fixed for the present, the problem has been to properly provide for them. While the above schedule seems heavy, it must be remembered that much of the work of the college is in the double-hour periods of the laboratories, shops and drawing rooms, requiring many actual hours of attendance per week. The actual number of credithours ranges from twenty to twenty-two per week.*

The main arguments in favor of the six-day system, at least in the College of Engineering, are as follows:

1. Greater flexibility and ease in program making. To further this end still more the academic college adopted the three-hour unit (an exact divisor of the six working days), and the elective system, which allows the student much latitude in the arrangement of his program. But in the College of Engineering all of the courses are prescribed and the program committee must provide complete schedules, free from conflicts, for all regular students, and with a maximum of thirty-six out of a possible forty-four hours to provide for, the task, even upon the six-day basis, is not an easy one. At Minnesota this difficulty alone is considered sufficient justification for the adoption of the system.

* Since the above was written a strong movement has been initiated to reduce the number of credit hours to 20 or less.

2. Economy of class-room space. The rapidly increasing growth of the college brought with it increasing numbers of sections without a corresponding expansion of the physical housing. For some time the college has felt cramped in its present quarters and it became a matter of imperative necessity to increase the number of working hours per class-room. The burning of the old main building of the College of Science, Literature and Arts several years ago, and the consequent overflow of academic classes into the other buildings on the campus, including the engineering buildings, pending the construction of a new main building, rendered the situation more acute. This condition of acute crowding generally occurs periodically in a rapidly growing institution until it is temporarily relieved by the construction of new buildings which in turn are soon filled up. For the reason that money is best expended in equipment, instructors and adequate salaries, rather than in brick and stone; for the reason that buildings bring greatly increased unproductive expenses, such as janitor service, lighting and heating, insurance, furnishing and similar fixed charges, thus becoming a heavy drain upon the income of the university; and for the additional reason that campus space is often limited and cannot be increased indefinitely without great cost, the question of economy of space becomes an important one and, in general, true economy would put each room into as frequent service as is otherwise practicable during all of the six working days of the week.

3. Student effort in an engineering college can be made more effective when applied steadily during six days than when concentrated into four and a half days. This reason may or may not be of weight in the academic courses, where it is generally considered desirable that students should have periods of freedom from class-room attendance for individual development along other lines of collegiate activity or for catching up in assigned work. Even in this case it may be urged that when the free day is largely spent in the library for reference reading, the latter may very easily become congested. The work of the engineering college, however, is best done under steady pressure. There is a certain amount of technical ground which must be covered and the compassing of this prescribed work leaves little opportunity in a four years' course for side browsing. Much of this work, involving as it does the elements of experience and judgment, must be done under the eye of the instructor and more frequent personal contact of student with instructor is essential than in the academic department. As the advancing work becomes

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