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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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Like the tutorial system, the Divisional examinations originated at Harvard and have become established as a regular part of academic routine. The report of Dean Moore of the faculty of Arts and Sciences to President Lowell shows conclusively how firmly they have become so established in every field of concentration except Chemistry and Astronomy. Last year Divisional examinations were required for the first time in the fields of Biology and Mathematics; this year Geology and Physics are to make the institution practically universal.

The results of the Divisional examinations have been a correlation and a centralization of knowledge. The vague, hazy atmosphere of learning in which the average graduate found himself has in part been replaced by convenient parcels of knowledge ready for use in whatever life work he may undertake. The system has not been confined solely to the so-called "humanities" but recently has found a place in the sciences as well. Some difficulty has arisen in making detailed scientific work compatible with such a plan. There is no reason to believe, however, that the tutorial system and Divisional examinations will not in time prove of definite value even in these specialized fields. Certainly the plan could be modified for the individual needs of the course.

In putting through changes in curricular requirements, the University has always moved slowly to allow complete adaptation in each department. The progressive inclusion of scientific courses into the Divisional Plan suggests that Chemistry and Astronomy may shortly be brought into the fold.

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