100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

February 16, 1964 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1964-02-16
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

... . -

By ALAN GRASS
CONCERN with the content, signifi-
cance, and popularity of individual
courses can often pose difficulties for
universities intending to give attention
simultaneously to formal organization of
curricula and effective integration of
classes into overall programs.
There is indeed room for improvement
in this area and suggestions concerning
(1) -Faculty Organization, (2) Facilities,
and (3) Administration may help effect
this improvement.
The University's colleges and depart-
ments have numerous opportunities for
determining the nature of the faculty.
and to carry out any overall "faculty
policy" that it might consider operable
and desirable. Selection of teachers af-
fords the first such occasion, for here
both institutional and departmental
practices can have their greatest impact.
A prospective instructor's academic rec-
ord, experience, and personal character-
istics and interests are reviewew before
he gains entrance into the academic com-
munity. Greatest emphasis can be placed
upon the factors deemed most relevant.
SIMILARLY important for effective
teaching is the training of teachers
for integration into specific departments,
yet methods for this requisite orientation
are not consistent within the University.
In some divisions, such as the education
school, recruited faculty members under-
go a school-wide initiation program; in
others, such as LSA, employing the over-
whelming majority of teaching fellows,
individual departments are left to supple-

ment the trial and error of classroom ex-
perience.
In order to prevent undue reliance on
the informal or semi-formal development
of necessary techniques and procedures,
more uniform measures should be exam-
ined. Perhaps a pre-semester orientation
program for teaching fellows and facul-
ty initiates could be instituted;nperhaps
a training course simultaneous with the
instructor's first semester in residence-
already existing in modified form in a
few departments-is more feasible.
To ensure effective teaching, sys-
tematic appraisal of faculty work and
evaluation of programs' success is
mandatory, yet this reviewing fune-
tion cannot be allowed to compromise
the respect with which the Univer-
sity regards its faculty. Presently,
members of the teaching staff are
subject to formal review by their in-
dividual departments, at the college
and University levels, through the
Senate and the Office of Academic
Affairs, and by the students them-
These procedures vary in their merit.
selves, through classroom question-
naires and steering committees.
Faculty reward, the other side of the
coin, is not to be overlooked. The advan-
tages of compensation or recognition for
outstanding classroom achievement are
manifold; the current practice of annual
and periodic awards and citations bears
this out.
II
ALTHOUGH classroom space and ade-
quate building conditions are matters
of great long-term relevance, the range

of portable facilities available are most
consequential in the short-run view. The
University employs a number of such
teaching aids in varying degrees. Films,
slides, teaching machines and pro-
grammed instructional texts have been
used to a fairly large extent; television
courses have been minimal, withtheem-
phasis upon educational, rather than
instructional TV.
While further elaboration falls outside
the scope of organization. The Center for
Research on Learning and Teaching, re-
cently established at the University, is
vitally concerned with maximizing and
expanding the use of such facilities.
III
T HE REMAINING area of concern is at
the administrative level, for it is here
that many actions for increasing the
unity and effectiveness of the curricula
are taken. The present system of credit
hours, departments distribution require-
ments, and University graduation re-
quirements does not necessarily reflect
any single, underlying philosophy.
Specifically, the extent and nature.
of course requirements should be
made a major factor in determining
the credit received; the present dis-
parity between introductory 4-hour
courses and more rigorous advanced
3-hour courses is one of the inequi-
ties which often causes the student
to subordinate his desire for educa-
tion to his desire for graduation.
Such desires should be made mutual-
ly reinforcing, rather than conflict-
ing.
Similarly, distribution requirements,

with the rationale of producing well-
rounded students, too often fail in their
stated purposes. Exposure to varied and
seemingly unrelated disciplines can in-
deed provide the balance needed to off-
set intense concentration or majoring in
one specific field. But piecemeal changes
in these requirements in recent years may
have created a ?mandatory smorgasbord
good for little other than student indi-
gestion. The faculty curriculum commit-
tee and student steering committees are
currently conducting studies of these
matters. Fortunately, changes both in the
credit hour system and in distribution
requirements can be undertaken, if
deemed necessary, without major proce-
dural difficulties.
The crucial role of administrative or-
ganization can also be seen in the Honors
program. To accomplish its objectives,
the program must transcend its own col-
lege honors department, and offer special
courses and class sections in all disci-
plines at all classroom levels. In such a
situation, failure to act with consistency
considerably reduces the effectiveness of
the program. While the Honors Council
itself is endeavoring to eliminate imper-
fections in its program, this inter-disci-
plinary body requires fuller support from
the individual disciplines that it encom-
passes, in providing honors students with
uniform opportunities in all areas.
Organization for effective teaching is
thus a matter for consideration through-
out the University community. While
this paper serves only to present the
basic nature of the task, the forthcoming
Conference has been designed to provide
for this critical study.

'A Focal Point for Challenges to Status Q

The

'

and Social Clh

By, KEINNETH McELDOWNEY

Policy -Making andthe Infividual Classroom

Effective College

By, DARl VIBETHI
(TfEACHING effectiveness is the prod-
uct of a willingness to experiment
with the educational process." This
cliche, or some paraphrase of it, so com-
monly garnisres college catalogues and
presidential orientation addresses to
freshmen that it now usually connotes a
boldness roughly comparable to that con-
veyed by declarations against sin and
man-eating sharks. 'The Experimental
Attitude" may now safely be added to
the roster of Mother and Country.
We may begin to strip the timidity
fiom the cliche by recognizng frankly just
what the "thing" is with which one must
experiment if the educational process is
to be improved. It is not simply subject
matter, methods of presentation, or some
abstract "process." It is human behav-
ior. Bluntly, problems of educational
process are problems in the control of
human behavior, engineering tasks de-
signed ultimately to achieve a particu-
lar set of terminal behaviors in the
student. This involves experimentation
with both the behavior of student and
teacher.
Effective teaching can be considered,
first, in relation to context of the stu-
dent behavior. Four factors are particu-
larly important:
1) The teaching machine, or more ac-
curately, programmed instruction, is not
the panacea for all educational ills, but
it epitomizes the view of the educational
process taken here. Using principles de-
rived from the experimental psychological

laboratory, programmed instruction pro-
vides a controlled way of bringing about
a particular set of terminal behaviors,
usually verbal behaviors, in the student.
To regard programmed instruction as
merely a new audio-visual device is to
underestimate its potential worth and its
potential danger. A number of depart-
ments at the University have now ex-
perimented with programmed instruction.
Programmed instruction occupies a cen-
tral place in the activities of the new
Center for Research on Learning and
Teaching, organized to implement new
techniques into the teaching process at
he University.
2) Three University professors, Wilbert
McKeachie, Robert Isaacson, and John
Milholland, are engaged in a large re-
search program (The MIM Project) de-
signed to maximize the effectiveness of
the classroom. Among other novel tech-
niques explored is the pairing of teach-
ers with students on the basis of per-
sonality characteristics.
3) Academic grades are well known
as variables which control behavior. But
it may well be questioned whether they
are being used in the most effecient way.
Possibly their controlling functions can
be replaced with less objectionable con-
trols. For example, students at Reed
College in Portland, Oregon, do not see
their grades until graduation: Perhaps
grades in many areas are completely
unnecessary; in some colleges, students
are encouraged to take courses in new
and unfamiliar areas by leaving their
performances ungraded. The author has
taught a class in which everyone was as-

sured of an "A". In all of these examples,
other variables come to control the de-
sired behaviors in rewarding and often
surprising ways. The decision facing the
educator is not whether to control or
not to control, but whether to control
chaotically, adversely and aimlessly, or
systematically and effectively.
4) One of the aspects of the "Pilot
project" conducted in the Literary College
this year has been the assignment of
students who live in the same dormitories
to the same course sections when possible.
This can make a significant improve-
ment of the effectiveness of the learn-
ing experience since discussion of the
course materials is not then arbitrarily
bounded by the time constraints of the
classroom. "Dedivorcing" the academic
work from the rest of college life-to use
Theodore Newcomb's happy phrase-is
one of the most important advantages of
the small liberal arts college, an advant-
age which can be more fully implemented
at the University.
II
THE CONTROL of the teacher's be-
havior can also be considered in four
ways:
1) Even when effective methods of
teaching have been discovered, the prob-
lem of motivating a teacher to adopt
them, or even to take an interest in more
effective teaching, remains. Many insti-
tutions are now tackling the problem of
the "reward structure" as they hope to
alter the reward structure so that teach-
ing ability becomes a criterion of hiring
and promotion on a more equal basis with
research and publication. Even when
major institutional changes cannot be
made, it may be possible to have the cru-
cial undergraduate courses taught by
those who are best, rather than least,
qualified to teach them. At the very
least, more thought could be given to
assigning lectures, seminars and reci-
tation sections to teachers on the basis of
the different kinds of skills required for
these different teaching methods.
2) Evaluation of teaching performance
is the most sensitive and yet probably the
most important preliminary step which=
needs to be taken for the improvement
of teaching. If the "reward structure" is
ever to be changed, the problem of
evaluating teaching performanc must be
solved. The assumption that teachers
cannot evaluate fellow teachers may be
less valid than commonly supposed; at

eaching
least it should be explored. The evalu-
ation forms filled out by students can
certainly be used more effectively than
they are now, even if they are only
seen by the teacher himself. They should
not be regarded as peripheral to the
educational process. Why not an evalua-
tion of every lecture as soon as it is
given?
3) Programmed instruction may be ill-
suited to some subject matter area. But
one lesson has been learned. Effective
teaching can become a more common-
place phenomenon and less a rare art
form to the extent that the terminal be-
haviors (from which such educational
goals as "deepened understanding,"
"sharpened perspective," and "broadened
horizons" are inferred) can be made ex-
plicit.
In programmed instruction, such be-
haviors must be explicit. It has been
found that teaching often improves, even
if the program is never written, because
the teacher was forced to answer the
question; 'Just what am I trying to
teach?" in frankly mechanical terms.
How can each teacher be forced to ask
himself that question in routine fashion?
In an engineering profession, it would be
considered a strange and and not-so-
wonderful thing if detailed specification
of the final product desired were as care-
fully avoided as it is in teaching.
4) Many of the techniques discussed
under "control of the student's behavior"
also control the teacher's behavior in
useful ways. For example, when the in-
structor relinquishes the aversive con-
trol inherent in grades by promising an
"A" to each student, his own behavior
changes dramatically as well, for he
must now see to it that the course is
sufficiently rewarding to that every stu-
dent earns the promised grade. Every
teacher should be given the -sobering
-experience of having to teach without the
crutch of controls at his command.
One rather surprising finding of edu-
cational research is that large lectures
often compare well with small classes in
terms of teaching effectiveness; the find-
ing is less surprising when one discovers
that instructors generally prepare much
more carefully when they are forced to
face a larger group. Why not try to set
up contingencies which would exercise
similar control over the instructor's prep-
aration in small discussion groups as
well? Continuous evaluation procedures,
tape recording of such sessions, and other
possibilities quickly suggest themselves.
THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

THE UNIVERSITY today is unsure of
its purpose-its role in society. Should
it devote itself to the personal intellectual
development of its students or merely
serve as a training school for the profes-
sors? Should it interact with society as a
birthplace of change? In each instance
the choice, whether made consciously or
not, deeply affects the structure of the
University and, to a significant extent,
of society itself.
If the stress is to be placed on personal
development and critical examination of
societal values and structure, more atten-
tion must be paid to semi-autonomous
student-faculty governing bodies; to small
seminars and independent research; to
closer student-faculty relationships; to
academic freedom; and to the develop-
ment of relative independence from the
pressures and demands of government
and business. On the other hand, if the
}raining of professionals and the trans-
1mittal of existing values is to be the goal,
the use of large lectures and programmed
instruction can be expanded; the bureau-
cratic growth of administrators will need
fewer restraints; and there can be imore
compliance with the requests and wants
of government and industry. The roles of
transmittal and training are becoming
increasingly dominant as the university
is shaped 'and twisted by the demands of
one pressure group or the other.
The modern university must embody
both of these roles. Unfortunately the
growth of the "training function" has
been at the expense of individual intel-
lectual development and critical exami-
nation of values. Universities appear to be
far too willing to bury, overtly or covertly,
their dissent and dissenters in order to
please the state legislators, the alumni,
and the agencies that administer federal
grants.
Our entire educational system mirrors
a society in which that person or insti-
tution who thinks only in terms of what
is immediate and politic is praised as
practical and down to earth. Such an ap-
proach is safe; one that will not lead to
conflicts or challenges that can't be

handled. But also it is one which results
in conformity, compliance, and an in-
ability to examine ideas and policies criti-
cally, either old or new. A person comes
to believe that the world is so complex
that he can have confidence only in his
competence in his own small specialty.
He is more than willing to leave other
areas to orther specialists. Thus, the
myth grows that the politicians should
no longer be seen only as representatives
but as specialists trained in the art of
governing. Traditional approaches to the
problems of our country are seen as the
right ones because they are the tradi-
tional ones. New methods are usually re-
jected without examination because they
fall outside the area of generally accepted
policies.
[T IS CLEAR that our educational sys-
tem does not bear sole responsibility
for this situation. But this is not really
the issue. The more important point is
that, rather than serving as a focal point
for challenges to the status quo, as ideally
its role should be, the university serves to
reinforce the impulse towards conformity
in our society.
It can do this in a number of ways:
1) By graduating professionals who
lack any critical sense; who are only
trained to perform adequately in one
chosen specialty;
2) By serving as a home for intellec-
tuals devoted, not to criticism, but to
echoing; and
3) Through its own image as an insti-
tution which conforms to the dominant
whims and customs of its city and state.
The reluctance of the state legislature
to appropriate needed funds over the last
five or six years has had serious effects
upon the University. This is a key element
in Michigan's sensitivity to outside pres-
sures and opinions.
For example, international and Negro
students are highly restricted as to the
housing they may obtain by the discrimi-
natory policies of some landlords. This
is known and has been documented. De-
spite this, however, the University's presi-

dent had to be virtually forced to retreat
from his position that the Ann Arbor fair
housing ordinance was solely a commun-
ity issue-one in which the University
should not intrude.
In this instance the administration's
actions did not encourage constructive
change but, rather, helped to frustrate
any policies or ideas directed towards the
solution of the serious problems that
face the students and the community.
(N AN INTELLECTUAL level, the cold
war with the increase in the monies
supplied by the federal government for
research and development intendant upon
it, and the black and white views of the
world which it encourages has sharply
affected the large university.
A number of large universities, includ-
ing the University, have become virtually
the research division of the defense de-
partment. The goal of this research arm
is to develop weapons of destruction and
surveillance. The financial importance at-
tached by the University to defense re-
search is perhaps best demonstrated by
the recent proud announcement by offi-
cials that defense research now comprises
less than 50 per cent of the total federal
research budget. This research spending
supplies almost a third of the University's
total budget. Needless to say, competition
for this research, as well as accommo-
dating the University's structure to it has
resulted in distortions of intellectual, sci-
entific, and educational priorities.
Defense research is typical of the areas
that have grown within the University
largely in response to outside needs rather
than as part of a general University
growth plan. This is not to deny that the
university has societal responsibilities
that must be fulfilled, but only to stress
the sorts of distortions that can be in-
duced within it by outside pressures.
THESE "pressures" have origins within
in the University also. At many uni-
versities there is no atmosphere that en-
courages a professor to dare to move far
ahead of his colleagues. In fact any at-

tempts to
punished.
siderations
tions, pers
"fits" are
whether o
or promot
difficult to
ment, an i
pressuring
volvement
in certain
who espou
suffer osti
mend thei
university
person w
society's c
This fac
tions fors
1) It is
to original
2) Stud
support, 1
university
"get a deg
All is a
student to
It is for t
up and t
thought gi
courage gi
our societ3
are the cc
History, I
of Protest
Economic
State; etc.
However
to imply
condemn I
to maintai
understand
any great
and ideals
sures of t:
ments, and
it. Under
evaluation
university,
and mover
universitie

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1964

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan