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If every professor and instructor in Dartmouth College could walk unseen with his class for the first 100 yards from the door after the end of the hour, daily for the period of one week, he could learn exactly what is wrong with his course. He could learn just wherein he is considered a success and a failure as a dispenser of information, just wherein he is considered just or unjust in recitation requirements and marking--in fact, every "what to do" and "don't do it" about his courses in the catalog of undergraduate criticism. Separating the chaff of the chronic growler, the captious individual and the carping dispenser of profane fault-findings from the bulk of the comment would still leave a deal of wholesome material worthy of honest reflection. This cannot be done, unfortunately, and there is no means of getting the undergraduate views on a course to the instructor, other than some action initiated by the latter. This happens occasionally, but far too seldom, and more's the pity!
Yale has just taken what we believe is a big forward step in the matter by the formation of undergraduate committees in every course to act as a monthly clearing house for whatever criticism there may be of the course by the men taking it. This information goes directly to the man in charge of the course. An interesting experiment, if nothing else, and the proposition appeals to us very definitely. The Yale News states the plan in the following:
"Let the Professors so electing distribute ballots at the next meeting of their classes and instruct the men that they are to choose a committee from their own number whose function it shall be to criticise the course.--Let the Professor in charge of each course convene these men as quickly as possible and instruct them in gist as follows: 'It is your function to act as a clearing house for criticism of this course. One month from date I am going to ask you to give me an accurate summary of your classmates' view on this course. I want frank, straightforward criticism. Are the assignments too long or too easy? Do I lecture too much, or ask too many questions? Is the course interesting, or is it textbook dry? How may the course be improved upon? I shall expect definite answers one month from now.'--The Student Council does not desire to give the impression that it thinks the courses are going to rack and ruin, and can only be saved by student intervention."
Further reports from Yale indicate that a few courses in which the advice of students' committees has been arbitrarily asked by the instructor, "already are of high calibre." We believe the Yale plan is a good one, and we await its development with interest, for we can clearly see the applicability of just such plans at Dartmouth. --THE DARTMOUTH.
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