Edward Lee Thorndike.

English composition; 150 specimens arranged for use in psychological and educational experiments online

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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES




V



ENGLISH COMPOSITION



150 Specimens Arranged for use in Psychological and
Educational Experiments



By EDWARD L. THORNDIKE

Professor of Educational Psychology, Teachers College
Columbia University



PUBLISHED BY

Ctfmbrra dollrgr. (Unlumbia VnivrrattQ

NEW YORK CITY

1916



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INTRODUCTION

This Monograph consists of one hundred and fifty specimens
of English composition whose general merit has been deter-
mined with fair precision by a consensus of from 23 to over
100 judges. Such a series will be useful for a number of pur-
poses, especially for (a) tests of the accuracy of complex judg-
ments, and consequent measurements of individual, class, and
sex differences, correlations with other forms of judgment, and
measurements of the effect of various conditions upon the ac-
curacy of judgment ; (b) experiments in practice and the trans-
fer of improvement; (3) measurements of the ability of pros-
pective teachers to distinguish merit in compositions ; (d) the
discovery of special prejudice and constant errors in the judg-
ments made by teachers ; (e) experiments to demonstrate and
measure the value of objective scales as aids to the process of
judging the general merit of specimens of English composi-
tions.

The first hundred specimens are arranged in ten sets of ten
specimens each, any one set being approximately as hard to
judge as any other. They are printed here on one side of the
paper only, so that they can be presented in any way that is
suitable to the investigator's purpose. Table 1 is a key giving
the approximate true value of each specimen according to the
Hillegas Scale as extended by Thorndike in 191 5. 1

The remaining specimens are printed in two series, each
series representing the compositions written by a class upon
the same topic. These series will be especially useful for ex-
periments in the analysis of the elements constituting general
merit. The values of these specimens are given in Table 2.

1 Copies of this Scale may be obtained from the Bureau of Publications,
Teachers College, at 6 cents per single copy.



205-..



:*■*



TABLE 1

Values of Each Specimen in Each Set, in Terms of the Hillegas
Scale, as Extended by Thorndike in 1915



Set A Set B Set C Set D Set E

1 66 1 70 1 65 1 58 1 55

2 78 2 76 2 77 2 68 2 67

3 58 3 62 3 59 3 62 3 23



4 82


4


13


4


37


4


48


4 85


5 58


5


83


5


16


5


78


5 78


6 9


6


58


6


80


6


30


6 34


7 70


7


65


7


74


7


80


7 45


8 36


8


36


8


57


8


70


8 62


9 32


9


30


9


48


9


40


9 71


46


10


47


10


32


10


43


10 40


SetF


SetG


SetH


Set I


Set J


1 57


1


58


1


58


1


54


1 77


2 65


2


42


2


68


2


63


2 53


3 20


3


25


3


72


3


65


3 44


4 78


4


73


4


28


4


68


4 75


5 89


5


54


5


93


5


25


5 67


6 31


6


43


6


58


6


64


6 28


7 60


7


93


7


60


7


93


7 61


8 70


8


77


8


53


8


43


8 60



9 40 9 60 9 75 9 78 9 95

10 50 10 65 10 39 10 37 10 37





TAE


ILE 2




COMMOI


j-Sense Series


Deephaven J


5ERIE


Specimen Quality


Specimen (


}ualii


22


75


32


73


24


75


34


76


25


64


35


85


26


65


36


65


28


55


38


83


53


55


39


61


54


69


40


66


55


69


41


77


56


66


42


72


57


59


43


75


58


83


44


54


59


54


45


55


60


65


46


77


61


75


47


50


62


76


49


66


63


63


50


75


64


80


51


71


65


75


52


77


66


72






67


52






68


63


Extra Specimens


69


67






70


71


142


76


71


54


144


78


72


68


147


64


73


64


148


75


74


55


149


78


75


59






77


79






78


63






79


74







CONTENTS

Set A - - - - - i

Set B - - - - - - 9

Set C - - - - - 15

Set D - - - - - - 21

Set E - - - - - 31

Set F - - - - - - 37

Set G - - - - - 45

Set H - 53

Set I - - - - - 61

Set J - - - - - - 67

Common Sense - - - - - 75

Deephaven - - - - - 107



SET A

1

Fellows, — perhaps you know and perhaps you don't — the
Recorder comes out to-morrow.

I hope there's not a fellow in this assembly who's not inter-
ested in our football team, the champions of the city. If there
is, that boy is not worthy of being a boys' High student. Well,
the Recorder has the pictures of the different players on the
team, the records of all the games, especially the all important
contest with Erasmus. It has, in fact, everything worth writ-
ing about the team. This report ought to interest the school.

For those interested in chess, we have secured a series of
problems in that game by John J. Jones, the noted chess
player.

The names of the A. A. representatives whose rooms have a
hundred per cent, membership will appear in big black letters
on the third page. These A. A. representatives, who have
never seen their names in print before, will probably be elated
at this. They ought to buy a copy of the Recorder.



A DOG FIGHT

As I was walking along Riverside one Sunday morning, I
heard a sharp yelp and turning around I saw a big bull dog
holding a small poodle by the neck: around the poodles neck
was a collar to which was fastened a leader. The owner of
this dog was holding fast to the leader and crying, " My poor
Trix, let go of my Trix." I remembered having past the lady
a little before, then she was holding Trix tightly under her
arm.

But Mr. Bull would not let go, and Trix's fond mistress
was getting more and more excited. " Who owns this beast
anyway? Help! Help! O my dear Trix, what will he do to
you ! Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! " Then Mr. Bull began swinging
Trix around, and around went My lady with them. Indeed it
was a funny sight to see two dogs and a lady swinging around
in a small circle of bystanders, the lady calling excitedly for
help and one of the dogs yelping.

At last two gentlemen pushed their way through the crowd
and began to club the bull with their canes. Some of the
blows poor Trix received and then there would be a cry of,



Set A 3

" Oh, don't kill my little Trix, poor little lamb. Oh my dog-
gie, my doggie ! "

One of the gentlemen wore a high silk hat and in his vigor-
ous attempt to release Trix, the hat flew off and was soon
under the dogs, then there was a grand scramble for the hat.
Dogs, hat, man, and women were all in a bunch, the man
after his hat, the bull after the poodle, and the women after
the bull.

Would the bull never let Trix go and what would be left
of her? Yes, at last Mr. Bull received a good blow on the
head and with a yelp he released Trix. The gentleman
grabbed his hat and began to examine it and Trix was taken
in the fond embrace of her Mistress. " Oh, my baby did he
hurt her? My lamb, my precious ! " and many similar remarks
and kisses were showered on the dog as dog and mistress
went away leaving some of the people sympathizing and some
laughing at the sight they had just witnessed.



Anyone trying for this Rhodes scholarship must comply to
three rules. The applicant must have had two years in some
college of good standing, must be unmarried, and must be
between nineteen and twenty-one years of age.

" The rules seem quite easy for a scholarship, don't you
think so girls?" asked Marion.

" Yes, but then it is not so easy as you think because there
are many other applicants," replied Helen. " But continue."

Then, Mr. Porter told us about Oxford. There are twenty
one colleges at Oxford, but they are shut in by a high wall
and are separated from each other.

" Why ! I thought Oxford contained just one large college
instead of twenty-one," said Helen.

" Yes, I replied and there are a good many other things
which greatly surprised me.



Down the trail to the beach we stumbled, our only illumina-
tion the little lamp, and went along the shore, very silently,
for each one was too much occupied in shivering to say any-
thing except muttered ejaculations when he stubbed his
numbed toe against a rock. Soon, however, we came out on
the road, where the footing was much smoother, and here we
quickened our pace. After half an hour of pretty steady
climbing, we emerged from the woods, and struck a little
footpath, which led across the rocky pasture land where we
really began to feel the cold. The grass was heavy with the



Set A 5

first frost, and by the time we had gone a hundred yards, our
legs from the knees down were thoroughly drenched with
ice-water. But by this time, most of the journey was over,
the light of dawn was crawling over the sky, the clear, cheer-
ful call of a white-throated sparrow floated down from a fir
nearby, and we really began to think that early morning was
a pretty good time of day, after all.

5

If I were as lucky as to be given a thousand dollars to
spend this Christmas I am very sure I would plan to spend it,
in a way that would give much pleasure to other people who
had not looked forward to Christmas with a great deal of
pleasure.

The pleasure of this holy day does not lie wholy is re-
ceiving, but in giving to others. I should go down town and
buy first of all useful things ; such as, clothing, coal and food
all of which are necessities for people that I should want to
give pleasure to.

House burned up a child was left alone an wise monkey
told the childs parents thankful reward $16.00.



" Oh, how I would like to see the sun get up ! " exclaimed
Mary. " Yes, wouldn't that be fun," said her little sister,
Bernice. " We always see it go to bed." " But how can we
see it? We never get up early enough, and anyhow, the
housetops would hide it." " Oh, I have just thought of a
splendid plan ! " exclaimed Bernice. " Let's go out and visit
grandma on the farm next week. I'm sure no housetops
would hide our view there, and grandpa always says, ' Early
to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy
and wise.' " The next week the girls went to their grand-
mother's with their mother. Their grandmother greeted them
and said, "What are you children so excited about?" They
told her their story and she said, " Oh, we'll fix that all right.
We'll just put an alarm clock in your room and you can wake
up and look out of the window." Grandpa said he would set
the clock at five o'clock, but in his excitement he set it at
four. The next morning the children woke up and rushed to
the window, but they saw no sun. Instead they saw the
shadow of night beginning to flee away and tiny streaks of
daylight coming in the east, for it was just between the dark
and the daylight and the sun would soon show his laughing
face to the waiting children.



Set A 7

8

Once when I was walking in the fields I saw a house burn
up I investacated the house. There was no one in the house
but a babe. The always call me lazy Monkey but now I will
be call wise Monkey If I save the child.

I climbed up the window and put the baby on my back.
The stairs were half nocked down and how could I come down
with the baby. The side walls on the outside were going to
fall soon. The house would surely fall in 30 min. He found
a long log from the side wall and carried the babe down.
Soon they were outside.

They sat down for 5 min. to rest.

The parents came home and found the house aflame. The
monkey told them he had saved the babe. The parents were
very thankful. They began a new home and the monkey was
a wise old monkey indeed.

He got a good reward and was very happy all his life.

9

" I would by each person twenty dollars worth the goods,
or I would give each person twenty dollars, If I would spend
the one hundred dollars between the five persons, I would buy
each one a suit of clothes, shoes, stockings, Caps, Over Alls
and Jumper."

10

" If I had one hundred dollars to spend to please five per-
sons I would first kind of figure out what the things a certain
five persons would like best.

" First, I would buy my cousin what he wished, that is a
good baseball outfit. It would cost about ten dollars for the
playing materials such as gloves, bats, etc. Then I would get
him a five dollar baseball suit and cap to match. He would
like a lot of candy and fruit and such things so I would spend
another five for that.

" Second I would by my brother a good fishing outfit con-
sisting of a five dollar pole, a one dollar line, two dollar, reel,
two dollars worth of hooks, five dollar pair of boots, two dollar
fishing coat, a dollars worth of leaders and two dollars for a
trip to some good fishing place.

" Third I would fit myself out in the same way.

Fourth I would get my father a morrison chair for ten dol-
lars, and a smoking jacket for ten more.

" Fifth as I have no mother I would get my aunt a new
hat with ten dollars and a new silk dress with the rest of the
money."



Set B 9

SET B

1

SHOULD THE LITERARY SOCIETY BE
REORGANIZED?

Since this year has been such a failure for the Senior Lit-
erary Society the question has now come up concerning either
the abolition of the society or the reorganization so as to have
a more successful society if any at all.

I think that if the society were to be reorganized with dif-
ferent requirements for membership than at present it would
be more successful.

I would suggest that each member should take up some one
department seriously such as dramatics or debating and really
try for the cast or team. In that way only those who were
really interested in literary work would care to belong to the
society, thus limiting the membership to those who were
willing to work for the good of the society.

Then I think that if meetings were held regularly every
two weeks say and a penalty put upon absence from a meeting
while in school it would help matters along.

I would suggest having the same method of running the
society as at present in regard to number of officers.

Each meeting might be devoted to some special thing to
be announced at the previous meeting or before.



That night, we took dinner at the hotel and, as we were not
over anxious to return to scene of destruction, a bunch of us
stayed at the hotel the great part of the evening. When we
finally did return, we talked and chattered freely as long as
we were on the regular hotel walk, but when we turned off on
our path through the woods, a sad silence descended upon us.
Each of us felt a peculiar fear and gloom. As we came to the
place where we turned, we stopped a few minutes, knowing
that we would see no welcoming lights nor hear the pleasant
noise of talking. When we turned, we saw the ruins bathed
in a flood of most beautiful moonlight. The moonshine vied
with the strange phosphorescent glow of the ruins, them-
selves, in making the scene wierd, and terrible. Two men kept
watch through the long night, lest the fire break out, again.
The next day, with sad hearts, we left the mournful ruins for
the more cheerful, if less beloved, city of Chicago.



Set B ii



COMPOSITION

Since Xmas comes but once a year, the people that are so
fortunate as to have every comfort to celebrate this holiday,
should remember the people that are not so fortunate. While
the rich are enjoying Santa Clause, the poor are wanting food
and warmth. And can not enjoy this great Holiday as the
rest.

Therefore, if I had a thousand dollars, I would spend most
of it making the poor and needy happy and merry. The
money would not make all of the poor people happy, but if
each person who had that much money to spend, would take
the greater part of it for that purpose, there would be less
suffering during Christmas times.

But, instead of spending money in this manner, many per-
sons would much rather spend it in having a nice time for
their selves, which only last for a while. While, if you help
others you will always be remembered. And will do you good.



Last Monday the house on the corner of Jay street was
burned down to the ground and right down by Mrs. brons
house there is a little child all alone and there is a bad man
sleeping in the seller, but we have a wise old monkey in the
coal ben so the parents are thankful that they dont have to
pay any reward.

5

The sun was setting, giving a rosy glow to all the trees
standing tall black against the faintly tinted sky. Blue, pink,
green, yellow, like a conglomeration of paints dropped care-
lessly onto a pale blue background. The trees were in such
great number that they looked like a mass of black crepe,
each with its individual, graceful form in view. The lake lay
smooth and unruffled, dimly reflecting the beautiful coloring
of the sky. The wind started madly up and blew over the
lake's glassy surface making mysterious murmurings, blend-
ing in with the chirping songs of the birds blew through the
tree tops setting the leaves rustling and whispering to one
another. A squirrel ran from his perch chattering, to the
lofty branches — a far and distant hoot echoed in the silence,
and soon night, over all came stealing, blotting out the scenery
and wrapping all in restful, mysterious darkness.



Set B 13



A boy who lived in a small town out side of Boston walked
into a grocery store one day limping and with a bag under his
arm, the keeper asked him what was the trouble, and he said
he had been kicked all over the house for just playing a little
joke on his father and so he was going to run away from
home The keeper asked him what he had done and he said
" You see the other day I thought I would have some fun with
my father so I wrote a letter to him and made out I was a
girl and told him to meet me at the corner of water street at
7 :30 on Saturday evening and signed the name " Daisy " to it.
At supper that night pa had he face all shaved his hair plas-
tered down, and to told ma he was going around to a club
meeting.

7

A year ago last summer mother and I visited my grandpa
and grandma, who live on a farm. Grandpa had some little
rabbits, there were three of them, a father, mother and the
baby rabbit. The baby rabbit was so tiny one could hardly
tell it from a baby kitten. It was white and had pink ears
and bright eyes, so I named it Bright Eyes. The mother
rabbit was afraid that I would take her baby away when I
took it in my arms. I had such a good time the whole day.
I picked cherries and apples and would go in the field and
romp with the little dogs. By this time I was very tired and
sat on the porch. Then I noticed that the sun was setting.
It was a beautiful sight. As I was sitting there I heard a
bell jingle and I looked up and saw the cows coming home.
I looked in another direction and saw the sheep coming home.
As I thought it all over, to me this seemed the nicest time of
the day, just between the dark and the daylight.

8

One day a house burned up. There was only one little girl
in the house. When all of a sudden a monkey came along
with a organ man. When he saw that the house was on fire
he went up and saved the little girl.

When her paent came home they were very thankful and
gave the organ man a reward.

9

" If I had a hundred dollars I would divid it between five
people. I would give $20 to the one who like everything, $5
to the one that liked nothing and $10. to on who liked Arith-



Set C 15

metic and $33 to the one for spelling, and $32 for the one who
liked Geography."

10

" There are five little children that live near us who are
very poor. They seldom have any new clothes and less often
any toyes.

" On Christmas and other days when we children have toys
these children may be seen looking at us with longing eyes,
and Easter time they even seem envious.

" Well I would first buy each child a pair of shoes about
three and one half dollars. Then I would buy the girls, three
of them, new dresses. The boys new suits. Which would
cost about thirty dollar. Of course the girls would have to
have hats. I would get simple ones but pretty. Then the
boys must have caps. "

SET C
1

137 Stockton St.,
Brooklyn, N. Y. Sept. 18, 191 1.
Dear Father: —

Owing to the fact that the Interscholastic Football Season
opens in October, it is my earnest desire to be able to hand
my name in as a candidate for quarter-back. I cannot, how-
ever, do this because I haven't your permission to able to
play football. High School expects every man to do his duty.
Therefore, I of all boys certainly ought to go out for it because
I am five feet ten inches and weigh 130 pounds. You have
declined to let me play foot-ball before, but now you may
readily see that I am taller and heavier than you were, when
you started to play the game. I, therefore, do not know why
you should deprive me of some sport and exercise that you
had when you were not my equal.

Hoping to hear a favorable answer, and thanking you in
advance, I remain.

Your son,

2

LACE-MAKING

There are two kinds of lace, the hand made and the ma-
chine-made lace.

The hand-made or real lace, as it is called in order that it
may be distinguished from the machine made or imitation



Set C 17

lace, is manufactured entirely abroad. In Belgium, France,
England, Ireland and Scotland there are numerous lace
schools.

Brussels lace, which is made in Brussels, has a world-wide
reputation, as well as Valenciennes lace, which is mostly made
at Flanders and Valencia.

France too produces great quantities of beautiful lace. In
the district of Auvergne, of which Le Puy is the centre,
nearly every kind of lace is made and this industry is thought
to be more extensive and more ancient here than in any other
part of France.

The machine made lace is manufactured at Caen France, as
well as the real lace and at Nottingham, England, and here in
the United States ; but this country has not established any
lace schools where real lace is made as in the foreign countries.



If the amount of one thousand dollars should be given me,
as a present, to be spent as I wished, I should invest it in
books. I would invest in books of history, science, fiction of
the good wholesome kind, and books of oration.

I should invest in books, because they are valuable ; also,
useful. In school we would have the use of the books on
oration and history. For the out-of-door life we would have
science. For the hours of rest, the books of fiction.



Last week I was playing with matches. My clothes caught
on fire. I soon put it out. I put the house on fire when I
put the fire on my clothes out. I called up the fire men but
they said, " It is to much for us. So the house burned down.

I went to my next door nebor who gave me some bread.
They let me stay with them a week. My clothes were not
badly burned so I went away but I came back.

When I came back they had a tamed monkey. I asked for
him and they gave him to me but not with pleasure. I took
him and he ran away and and he came back with money and
a check. There was enough money for a new house. So we
had one built.

When the house was built my mother came home and my
father came the next day. They didn't know the house but i
told then the old one burned down and I had a new one built.
They very glad when they heard how I acted. They gave me
a reward of twenty five dollars which I had put in the bank.



Set C 19

5

THE PILGRIMS HOUSE

Some men went out to build some houses in the forest, it
was wild in the forest some Indian came around at night and
take some club with them and some gun, the have a barrels
it was some fire was in the red men burned up peoples.

The pilgrim went out to catch some red men when they
catch one they him up in the fire. And they had a monkey
went out to and one monkey have a gun,

And he saw some red men and the monkey shot him.



Among the beautiful islands on the Canadian side of the
St. Lawrence River, there is a deep and narrow channel which
separates three small wooded islands from a large fertile one.
Of the three islands the largest is rocky and covered with a
growth of stately pines and waving hemlocks, and a carpet
of moss and ferns. On the second there is quite an assort-
ment of trees, whose foliage during the fall turns to many
shades of gold and red, which colors are greatly enhanced by
the dark green background of its neighbor. On the third
there is a thick growth of brush, with an occasional small
tree. These three islands are so close together, that fallen
trees and logs make it possible to walk from one to another.



It was a cold evening. I had been sick for a week and


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Online LibraryEdward Lee ThorndikeEnglish composition; 150 specimens arranged for use in psychological and educational experiments → online text (page 1 of 6)