Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/416

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Any one of these definitions of the meaning of the five groups would come nearer to telling the truth, be more serviceable for administrative purposes, and convert the vast amount of labor now used in making out grades into more valuable data for the scientific study of education than the present personal distribution of college credits. A defensible definition of grades should be adopted by each faculty and its members should be required to adhere closely to it, in the long run, at least in all courses primarily for undergraduates, until we can supplant the method of grading by relative position by scales made up of equal units.

After the definition of grades is adopted, a table should be sent to each instructor, as often as grades are required at the college office, showing the distribution of grades in each course in the college and emphasizing those that depart far in either direction from the adopted mean. Every instructor should be requested to justify his eccentricities, at least in a series of years. If such publicity does not accomplish sufficient uniformity for administrative purposes, insurgent and careless instructors should be reminded by the appropriate authorities that it is for the interest of all for each to abide by the decision of the faculty.

To rate instructors solely with respect to the proportion of high grades awarded by them, or solely with respect to the quality of students attracted to their courses, is evidently inadequate. An instructor may give more high grades than his associates, because he has more students who deserve distinction. But if this is the case, the administrators of the college curriculum can readily devise a means of measurement which will show at a glance the justification for any conspicuous deviation from the normal distribution of grades. All the instructors of any institution may be located on a scale which shall take account not only of the grades awarded, but as well of the quality of the students electing each course.

For example, as part of an investigation conducted at Williams College by a committee in accordance with a resolution of the faculty. Dean Ferry, at the request of the president, devised a plan for measuring the relative quality of the classes in the elective courses of junior and senior years and of the grades given in each. Taking the work of the first two years, where the courses are nearly all prescribed, as a basis for the determination of the scholarship of the students, statistics were carefully worked out for the elective courses of three successive classes. The results of his extensive study are summarized in Table V. Column I. gives each instructor his position with respect to the quality of students in his courses. The larger the proportion of men attracted to his courses from the upper half of the student body in general scholarship, the larger the plus rating of the instructor. For purposes of comparison, Column II. gives each instructor his position with respect to the proportion of high