In order to find exactly how the individual child grows in mind and body, the Graduate School of Education, with the co-operation of public and private schools in the vicinity, has embarked upon an investigation of the mental and physical development of hundreds of individual schoolboys and schoolgirls. This investigation is expected to occupy twelve years, and is the first of its kind ever undertaken on so large a scale.
The project is described by Dean H. W. Holmes '03 of the Graduate School of Education, in his annual report, as a "new research enterprise of major importance". It has been financed for the first year by a grant of $10,000 from the Commonwealth Fund. The hope is expressed at the University that it will provide a new basis of fact for the discussion of a great many fundamental educational problems, of interest alike to teachers, physicians, psychologists, parents, and social workers.
The plan of the investigation is to take several hundred children and submit them at intervals to measurements and tests over a period of twelve years, say from the age of six to the age of eighteen. This will give an accurate record of how each individual child is growing mentally and physically throughout that period. Hitherto practically all the information secured by physicians, teachers, and psychologists on the mental and physical growth of children has been based on averages from the measurement of groups, and thus has thrown but little light on the relation between bodily and mental growth in the individual.
Can Not Classify Children Now
"We cannot classify children properly, select the gifted or the deficient for special treatment, deal with individuals of unusual traits, adjust our teaching or our schools to the various levels of development, or handle our human material with maximum effectiveness at all, unless we can become more certain in our judgements concerning individual cases," says Professor W. F. Dearborn, who is in charge of the project, in a report outlining its scope. We ought to be able to study any given child as an individual in the light of comprehensive knowledge of individual growth."
Hundreds of children are now being examined by Professor Dearborn and his staff at the psycho-educational clinic at the University, which has been specializing for several years in the measurement of intelligence and the testing of school accomplishment. Each child is given intelligence tests (group and individual); has his school accomplishment measured by means of standardized tests in reading and arithmetic; and has his teacher's judgments and observations of the above recorded. His height, weight, and bodily proportions are also measured; his physical condition is observed; his teeth are examined to see how the process of dentition is coming along; and the ossification of the carpal bones is shown by X-ray photographs.
By repeating these measurements at intervals for twelve years, the investigators of the Graduate School of Education hope to secure complete records of the individual development of a representative group of children throughout their school course, and thus to secure important information on the relation between mental growth and bodily development during childhood.
Already since the first of October more than 1600 public school children in the first and second grades have been tested with the group intelligence tests, and X-ray photographs have been made of the carpal bones of these same children. The tests of school accomplishment, the measurements of height and weight, bodily proportions, and dentition have been made on 1200 of the same group A, second group intelligence test, to cheek the results of the first, has been applied to about 1200, and individual tests are being given in special cases as a further cheek. It is planned to increase these numbers so that approximately 500 of the children observed will remain in the group throughout the whole period under investigation