Sophomore tutorial in Social Studies, the only field in the College which now offers first-year tutorial for credit, has been only reasonably successful this year, according to several Social Studies tutors. They suggested, however, that the reasons for giving credit in Social Studies are inapplicable to other departments.
Under a ruling delivered by the Committee on Education Policy last May, all sophomores majoring in Social Studies now receive a full-course credit for their tutorial. Tutees meet together for one hour of lecture and two hours of group tutorial each week.
According to Richard M. Hunt, head tutor, credit was offered this year not because of a heavy work load, but because the additional hour of lecture "enabled us to present necessary background information. Tutorials can now discuss our material much more deeply.
Last year in tutorial, Hunt continued, "we spent at least 30 minutes each week discussing tedious biographical facts."
Despite the limitation to four courses including tutorial, there has been no more work required this year than in the last two, according to Donald R. Brown, tutor in Social Studies. He said that incentives for students "are not really needed in a field as selective as ours."
None of the tutors interviewed thought that sophomores had done better work this year. Brown felt that the lectures were not doing all "we thought they might."
Brown added that a course grade in sophomore tutorial does not really affect "the free interplay of ideas. Discussion is not entirely uninhibited in any case. A full-course credit has just made it more obvious that a game is going on."
Both Hunt and Brown felt that the need for a credit tutorial was much greater in an integrated field like Social Studies than in other departments. "In our program, unlike in History, Government, or Economics, we have no definitely required courses."
Only in the case of History, Brown suggested, is there a similar need for an introductory presentation of great literature. "Ideas can be thrown at the students in the beginning, and they can apply whatever they happen to remember to their junior and senior courses."
Arguments for credit tutorials in other departments have not been substantiated by the Social Studies experiment, Brown concluded. "There was no other practical alternative to provide the background our program needs," he said.