Text of Freshman Committee's Report Which Suggests Many Improvements to Help First Year Men Through Critical Period

Following is the text of the report on the Freshman Year which the Freshman Confidential Guide submitted to Dean Leighton yesterday. It was drawn up under the chairmanship of Francis Keppel by Messrs. Allen, Dampeer, Dow, Durant, Graham, Hay, Levine, Shahan, and Vogt.

General Remarks

We realize that there are certain changes that the University cannot make because of administrative difficulties, and these questions we have not discussed; nor have we attempted to investigate subjects on which we have been unable to procure first-hand evidence. All our criticisms and recommendations must therefore be understood to apply to the Freshman year only. In making both general and specific resolutions we have regarded the matter entirely from the Freshman point of view. We hope that this report will be useful as a record of student opinion.

We have divided our study into two parts. In the first we have dealt with courses and their value. We have made several generalizations which we feel to be applicable to all courses in all departments, and we have also examined some specific cases. In a few of our general suggestions we may seem to be recommending a policy directly opposed to the present academic set-up. We feel that the practical application of this policy has shown that it creates too big a step between school and college.

In the second part we have taken up questions of Freshman life, both athletic and social. We have also examined the adviser question. In both parts of the report, the suggestions for improvement have been written in the form of a resolution, prefaced by introductory remarks explaining the faults we are trying to eliminate, and towards what goal we are aiming.

Part I

I. Introduction: The CRIMSON questionnaire showed conclusively that the student's enjoyment of courses varied directly with the teaching ability of his section man. The criticism was brought forward several times that the fault lay in the present method of choosing men from the ranks of those studying for a doctorate. These men have in many cases had no teaching experience at all, and have no interest in instructing freshmen in the elementary parts of a subject. We recommend that the method of appointment be revised in all departments, although we do not claim that every doctorate student should be eliminated.

Resolution: That section men be chosen with an eye towards teaching ability and personality, rather than for their scholastic records.

II. Introduction: There are few freshmen who have a clear idea of their specific field of concentration for their last three years in college. They may know what general field they wish to pursue, but they need introductory courses which will give them a clear picture of what those fields offer. To achieve this purpose, we recommend:

Resolution: That professors in introductory courses be chosen for their teaching ability rather than for their scholarly attainments. Scholarship is more valuable in advanced courses.

III. Introduction: There are a large number of freshmen who have received sufficient training in a field (or fields) in school to make an introductory course in that field (or fields) superfluous. At present these men are hindered by University rules requiring most men to take introductory courses. We therefore recommend;

Resolution: That a more flexible system be evolved whereby freshmen with adequate preparatory training be allowed to enter advanced courses directly.

IV. Introduction: In many courses, the brilliant students have been held back by the slow members of the sections, and have not been able to cover as much ground as they could have otherwise. The conference groups in History 1, for example, wander far afield from the required work of the course. With the purpose of making introductory courses more interesting for the good student and less embarrassing for the bad, we recommend:

Resolution: That in all courses (as far as is possible) the sections be divided into Honor men, C men, and D and E men.

V. Introduction: In many cases it has been found that the lectures do not complement or even bear any relation to the assigned reading. As the course tends to lose its unity and significance when its various component parts are advancing in tangents or, as is perhaps more important, when the lectures do little more than duplicate the reading, we recommend:

Resolution: That the lectures complement, explain, and discuss the assigned reading rather than duplicate it or stray away from it, as is now true.

SPECIFIC CASES

Sciences

I. Introduction: In all chemistry courses it has been found that a student, working carefully, is unable to accomplish the required amount of laboratory work in the allotted time. The following figures testify to the wide gap that exists:   Stated Required Time  Necessary Time for Careful Work Chem. A  3 hrs.  3 1/2-4 hrs. Chem. B  3 hrs.  5 hrs. Chem. 33  Not stated  3 1/2-4 hrs.

Therefore we recommend:

Resolution: That the catalogue of courses state the minimum requirement of hours per week of laboratory work and the average number of hours required to complete the assignments working with reasonable care.

II. Introduction: In Chemistry A the professor and the section men seem to have lost all connection with each other. The result has been that the laboratory experiments are either far behind the lectures, or far ahead of them. We recommend:

Resolution: That the laboratory work in Chemistry A be better correlated with the lectures, not only when the laboratory manual is made up, but also at regular intervals throughout the year.

III. Introduction: The laboratory tests in Chemistry B are being given the week before the experiments are made. The results are unfortunate. We recommend:

Resolution: That the laboratory tests in Chemistry B be changed to the week after the experiments are made, rather than the week before.

IV. Introduction In Chemistry B a penalty for overtime work in the laboratory is enforced. It is clearly unfair to the man who has a real interest in his work, and wishes to do it carefully.

Resolution: That the penalty for overtime laboratory work in Chemistry B be abolished.

V. Introduction: Physics C in the last years has become a mere repetition of Physics B, with a slightly more advanced viewpoint. It is also dangerously akin to Physics D. We feel a need for an advanced survey course, which goes into considerable detail into the various fields of physics, and is designed for the student who has had at least an adequate year of physics. It is our hope that a course of this nature will give a man who has decided to concentrate in physics some idea of what section of the field he might especially study. By an advanced course we mean one which passes rapidly over the fundamentals, and stops to prove formulae which are at present assumed, etc.

Resolution: That Physics B and D be left unchanged, but that Physics C be made more advanced for students who have had at least an adequate year of physics, and who intend to concentrate in this subject.

VI Introduction: In Mathematics A, the student has found himself so deeply involved in the mechanical details of the course that he loses the more general aspects of mathematical thought. In the hope of making Math. A more instructive as well as wider in view point, we recommend:

Resolution: That, one meeting out of every six, the whole course meet for a lecture on the philosophical and historical aspects of mathematical thought, given by such men as Professors Coolidge, Whitehead, or Morse.

The Arts

VII. Introduction: Under the present plan the German Department offers four introductory courses: German A, 1a, 1b, and 2. German 1a and 1b cover very much the same ground and would seem to be unnecessarily differentiated. We therefore recommend:

Resolution: That German 1a and 1b be combined into one course.

VIII. Introduction: The French department, under the present plan, requires three elementary courses: French A, 1, and 2, before a student with no training is able to take the advanced and literary French 6. French 1 and 2 cover very much the same ground, without conspicuous brilliance. We recommend that a course be formed that combines French 1 and 2, as follows:

Resolution: That French 1 and 2 be combined, and the resulting course be organized as follows: sections until November hours; after November, the sections be divided into Honor men, and C, D, and E men, the honor group emphasizing especially literary considerations, with one general lecture a week, and the C, D, and E men continuing the training in grammar.

IX. Introduction: A freshman receiving under 75 in his College Board examinations is required to take English A-1. There have been two general criticisms of the course, found in the questionnaires. In the first place, the student has been given no credit towards his college degree, and has been unable to drop the course until mid-years, and then only if he receives an A. This means that those taking under 75 on the College Boards are forced to take five courses; and unfortunately the majority of men forced to take English A are those least capable of carrying one more course than is necessary. The second criticism is that English A-1, as it is at present conducted, does not fulfill the needs of the unprepared freshman. It is felt that a literary background is quite as important and as necessary as a training in writing.

English 79 has become little more than a repetition of English 28, with perhaps more emphasis upon poetry. It would seem, also, that the students who would be likely to take the course could be included in 28 without undue difficulty, and without a great change in the latter. The solution of the two problems that we offer is embodied in the following resolution:

Resolution: That English A-1 and English 79 be abolished, and that a course, giving credit towards a degree, be created, combining the best elements of both. This course, partly literary and partly a training in writing, is to be required for all freshmen taking lower than 75 on the College Board examinations, and for those who have been admitted from the first seventh of their school class. The training in grammar and writing is to be given in the weekly sections, and the literary part of the course in the lectures.

X. Introduction: An attempt was made last year to correlate the reading and the lectures in Government 1. The change was in part successful, but satisfactory results were but partially attained. We recommend that the policy be continued. The second clause in the resolution is self-evident.

Resolution: That the one lecture in Government 1 interpret the week's reading, as well as develop the material more fully; and further, that the resolution concerning section men be especially applicable in this case. This resolution reads: That section men be chosen with an eye towards teaching ability and personality, rather than for their scholastic records.

PART II

The Adviser

Introduction: In considering the question of the adviser system we tried always to bear in mind the administrative difficulties that must be faced in dividing a thousand men into small groups and assigning them to advisers. The ideal is plain enough: to have the adviser a man able to give sound advice concerning courses, living or having offices in easily accessible places for freshmen, and willing and ready to help the student at all times. The logical location for the adviser is in the Yard itself. We therefore recommend:

Resolution: That all proctors in the Yard be prepared to act as advisers of the Freshman Class; and further, that as many as possible of the Freshman Class be assigned to advisers in the Yard.

Realizing that the main duty of the adviser is to help in the choice of courses, we recommend that a thorough and intimate knowledge of Freshman courses be mandatory.

Resolution: The primary requisite of a Freshman Adviser is an intimate knowledge of the rules and material of Freshman courses.

The question of enlarging the sphere of the adviser's activities was discussed, but it was felt that, as we had had no experience with the tutorial system, we did not have the first-hand information necessary for an attempt to define exactly how closely connected the adviser and the advisee should be.

Compulsory Exercise--Hygiene Lecture Introduction: While it was felt that compulsory exercise was necessary, there was considerable criticism of the Hygiene lectures in the replies to the CRIMSON questionnaires. Under the present arrangement, the consensus of opinion was that the lectures, as they were conducted this year, were useless. However, the need for some practical talks on personal hygiene was recognized. Feeling that the lectures attempted to cover too much ground, and were needlessly long, we recommend the following changes:

Resolution: That the Hygiene talks be limited to six lectures; that there be no examinations at the end of the course; that there be one required conference, and that the course be limited entirely to explanations of practical methods for the care and prevention of disease.

While we have said that there was a general approval of exercise requirement there have been individual cases (the Student Waiter question being a notable example) in which students have requested exemption. The Dean's office has not had the authority to grant any such requests even if they were based on reasonable evidence. Therefore, although we agree with the athletic policy as a whole, we recommend:

Resolution: That the Freshman Deans be given authority to exempt students who present reasonable evidence from compulsory exercise. (This resolution with especial reference to Student Waiters and others who work for at least an equal amount of time.)

Publications

Introduction: The Freshman Red Book has been criticized on two scores. In the first place, it is published too late in the year; in the second place, it deals with material that is more logically treated in the Senior Album. While it is true that the Freshman year is the only time in the class' four years at college that it is really unified (and therefore should have some record of its activities) we though that a pamphlet with the photographs and names of the freshmen, published early in the year, would be more practical.

Resolution: That the Freshman Red Book in its present form should be discontinued, and that there be published as early as possible in the fall the photographs, names, and school activities of the members of the class.

Widener Library

Introduction: We have had many complaints, given both individually and as a group, concerning Widener Library. The two main difficulties seem to be: the difficulty in borrowing a book from the library, and the fact that it is closed on Sunday, perhaps the time when the majority of undergraduates would be likely to use its facilities. Concerning the first complaint, we clearly can do nothing. It is up to the librarian to find a method of making the resources of Widener as accessible to the average student as to the scholar. We can, however, recommend:

Resolution: That Widener Library be open on Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening throughout the college year.

Union Committee and Class Officers

Introduction: Considerable criticism has been levelled against the present method of choosing the Union Committee, and against the manner of electing the class officers. We considered the ways of making both these elections more democratic and more representative; several alternatives were suggested: in the case of the class officers, limiting the number of men nominated to fill the various posts, and recommending that the Union Committee nominate the men instead of the Student Council; and, in the case of the Union Committee, suggesting that the appointment be delayed until the last possible moment, so that the Secretary of the Union would be able to see what men, who had been successful in preparatory school, were fitting well into the college group. We rapidly found, however, that it made little difference whether or not the various positions were well filled, for neither the Union Committee nor the Class Officers were given any authority of their own. The former appointed dance committees until the elections; afterwards, the officers appointed the Smoker and Jubilee Committees. The class, realizing their lack of authority, made no attempt to criticize through them. Even the newly formed Freshman Dramatic Club received no help whatsoever from the Union Committee. The Secretary of the Union was able to give little more than advice. It was also suggested that the position of Secretary be made a full time position, but once again it was found that the Secretary had little authority of his own. Wherever we turned, we found ourselves confronted with the fact that the Dean's Office preferred to keep the final decision in its own hands; realizing that it made no difference how the various representative freshman organizations were chosen if they had no voice in the management of their class, we saw no reason to make any resolutions. The final question is whether or not a newly formed group, like the Freshman Class, is able to govern itself intelligently and efficiently. In our estimation the decision rested with these who have had more experience in student government, and who might be able to suggest some sort of workable compromise. Until this fundamental problem is answered, we feel that it is useless to attempt to improve the method of choosing the Union Committee or the Class Officers