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Self-Paced Learning at Harvard?


By Steven Reed

A class with no lectures and no sections is every student's dream, and that dream edged a little closer to reality Monday with President Bok's announcement of this year's grants from the President's Fund for Innovation.

Among the numerous grants was a $5000 award given to Paul Bamberg, lecturer on Physics, to experiment with self-paced learning in teaching Physics I. Bamberg intends to divide his class into three sections to be chosen by lot.

The lucky winners in the first section will have no lectures--although tutors will be available to answer questions--and will have voluntary examinations. The second section will follow the standard format and the third will combine the two methods. All three will have the same final.

Several Economics, Statistics and Psychology professors have indicated they will try self-paced instruction in their classes with money from the Fund also.

The President's Fund was created last May after Dean Dunlop and Bok persuaded the Mellon Foundation--headed by President Emeritus Nathan M. Pusey '20--and the Norman Foundation to donate over $1 million in order to develop new methods of instruction and better preparation of graduate students as teachers.

Bok expressed a strong interest in improving the quality of undergraduate education and enriching the curriculum in his address to the Class of '76 last week and his Fund has given a good deal of support to innovative House courses since last Spring. Could the next step be Chem 20 without lectures?

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