Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of dynamos and motors, with laboratory work in testing and the uses of electrical currents. This seems to be about as near an ideal course as can be devised, for it gives the students practice along just the lines of work that fall to him when he goes out into business. During the two years of its operation, the results have been eminently satisfactory both as to the interest shown by the student and the evident breadth he acquires in the mechanical subjects.

As an example of the operation of this course, I ask your attention to a thesis on the manufacture of Portland cement presented this year for graduation, which includes a complete drawing to scale with every detail of a plant devised for an output of 2000 barrels daily, with calculations of the efficiency in every part of the plant, and selection of the most improved machinery from designs of the manufacturer. In the preparation of his thesis, the student had the advantage of the wise council of Professor Newberry of the Sandusky Portland Cement Company, and free access to all parts of their works and to those of another plant of equal capacity. Besides the knowledge gained from these sources, the student collected data and descriptions from all available literature. He included in his work the compositions of the clay and marl, methods of testing the finished product, compositions of the mixtures, of the burned clinker, and other details of the chemistry of cement, including a study of White Portland, now manufactured extensively in Germany and under consideration in this country. Directly after graduation I was able to offer to this young man two places, one in a Portland cement factory, just in the line of his preference, and another dependent on a knowledge of organic chemistry. Naturally he chose the place in the cement factory, although he would have taken the other position if this only had been offered and he would have been well qualified for its requirements.

AN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIMENT.

BY WILLIAM G. RAYMOND, Dean of the College of Applied Science and Professor of Civil Engi

neering, State University of Iowa.

During the past year an experiment in individual instruction has been made in the State University of Iowa. A statement of what this experiment was and some of the observed results is the purpose of this paper.

At the beginning of the year, notices were posted asking for volunteers from among the civil engineering students of the freshman class to form a section to be taught individually. The section was limited to twenty men, and after full explanation of the plan the entire number-about one half those entering this course-applied and were admitted.

The composition of the section was peculiar, as may be inferred from the several reasons for joining the section given by those who applied. Some of these reasons were:

1. The hope of getting through the year's work earlier than the regular class to secure longer vacation employment for needed self-support.

2. Belief that the instruction would be thorough than class-work.

3. Greater freedom in selecting hours for employment necessary for self-support.

4. Fear on the part of one or two mature men that the lapse of time between high school and college

more

courses had been sufficient to make satisfactory progress with regular classes doubtful.

5. Desire to offset a known lack of moral courage to study by constant supervision in the class-room during study periods.

6. Possibility of working off entrance conditions by attendance on college classes or in the local academy without program conflict.

One or two men dropped out or were dropped at an early day and their places were filled by late arrivals, making a seventh reason for selecting this method.

The ages of the men ranged from seventeen to twenty-five years.

The conduct of the section was far from what it would be under a regular system of individual instruction, because it was impossible to supply instructors who could give a half day regularly to the work. In the second semester, in particular, difficulty was experienced that reduced the efficiency of the work considerably below what it may be under favorable conditions.

Because of inadequate instructional staff, it was found necessary to abandon the original plan for doing the English work by personal consultations with the instructor, and to include the individual section with one of the regular sections.

The mathematics suffered the second semester, for, although an excellent instructor was in charge, he had other work to do and the class, freshmen be it remembered, failed to utilize the time during which they were left alone any better than any other lot of boys would have done. Besides this, two morn

ing periods weekly were used for class work in English.

Some of those who feared they would not have moral courage to study except under direction proved the correctness of their self-knowledge by failing to develop sufficient moral courage to attend class regularly. While these students were warned of the consequences, the action that would ordinarily be taken, namely, the exclusion of the student from further attendance after a maximum of unexcused absences, was not taken for two reasons: first, the class was a volunteer class, and this fact made it seem undesirable to deprive any man of the privilege of completing anything he might be able to do, however limited his attendance; and, second, it was desired to learn all that could be learned of the details to be looked out for in conducting work on this plan.

The whole class was of necessity confined to one room, no matter what subjects were being pursued. This was a distinct disadvantage, for while the greater advancement of some men in a given subject proved something of a spur to the slower ones, the earlier passing of one to manual work-as drawing-in the same room, was demoralizing, those students lacking somewhat in self-control and concentration finding altogether too much of interest in their neighor's work.

In spite of the many difficulties, the section as a whole completed the same proportion of a year's work that was done by the regular classes. Indeed, it did much more than the regular sections did, because in mathematics every man worked from two

« AnteriorContinuar »