Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/250

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carefully directed class-room study, less so-called recitation and less home work might not yield better results.

Experiments in mathematics have been carried on by Mr. Ernest E. Breslich, of the University High School (Chicago), Department of Mathematics. At the outset Mr. Breslich found that some pupils who did poorly on their assigned work did not understand the suggestions that had been given regarding good ways for undertaking the home work. Parents insisted that the assignments made were impossible, whereas for one reason or another the pupils had failed to get essential suggestions regarding the assignment. Even with assignments clearly understood certain habits of home study which did not exist had been assumed. A series of visits to other classes showed similar conditions. Pupils reported poor results from their home study, various excuses or no excuses being offered. The teacher explained away the pupil's difficulties and, in most cases, the pretense of having the work done at home was continued.

To ascertain the ways in which the members of one class attack their work, Mr. Breslich assigned a lesson, taking unusual care to make clear all phases of the assignment. The class was then told that the next fifteen minutes would be given to studying the lesson assigned. All pupils were slow in beginning the work and some occupied all of the fifteen minutes in getting ready to go to work. Some who ordinarily came to class with well-prepared lessons looked about to see how others were undertaking the work, and followed them. Few really accomplished anything in the fifteen minutes.

To investigate more carefully these individual habits of study, Mr. Breslich told his classes that at a certain hour each day the class room would be open to students who had difficulty with assignments or wished to make up back work, and good use was made of this opportunity. The teacher passed about among the pupils as they worked, making suggestions, but rarely answering questions directly.

It was then decided to make more prolonged trial of this supervised study with all members of one class. In one section of the class no home work was assigned and in the other section home work was assigned and in the usual way. The two sections had the same work. Both spent fourteen lessons on simultaneous linear equations, at the end of which the same test was given to both sections. The relative standings in grades which these two sections received upon the same examination, at the close of the preceding semester in mathematics, that is prior to beginning these experiments, are: Section A, average 81.4; Section B, average 79.4, B being slightly weaker than A. In Section B 5.9 of the class had failed in the preceding semester and none in Section A.

Section A was given home work with no class room supervised