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percentage of errors made on each of the 55 addition combinations
of the Courtis tests in 5,950 papers made by repeatedly testing
238 eighth-grade children. These results are shown in detail in
Table 128. There is a clear relation between the per cent of errors
and the size of the total resulting from the combination. The
writer computed the correlation between the two by Spearman's
rank method and found a coefficient of .57. The relation is shown
in detail by the curve of Figure 76. For the most part the odd
and especially the prime numbers are more difficult than the even
numbers adjacent to them. While there is seen to be a fairly
steady rise up to 10, there is an abrupt increase at the beginning
of the teens which continues as far as the investigation extends.



TABLE 127

The per cent of each type of error in the examples of subtraction, multiplica-
tion, and division respectively from the 812 papers from six schools in
Seattle. (After Gist ('17).)

Grade 4te Sth 6th 7th 8th

Subtraction :

Borrowing 54 56 52 51 55

Combinations 36 38 45 44 41

Omissions 2 i 2 3 i

Reversions i 2 yi o o

7— o, o, etc 5 3 i< o o

Left-hand digit o o p o 2






ARITHMETIC 413

TABLE 127— Continued

4TH STH 6th 7TH 8th

Multiplication :

Tables 79

Addition 18

Cipher in multiplier 1.5

Division:

Remainder too large 34

Multiplication 22

Subtraction 11

Last remainder o, and o in dividend ... 7

Multiplicand larger than dividend 7

Failure to bring down all of dividend . . 7

Failure to bring down correct digit .... 2

Failure to place all of quotient in quo . . 7

Cipher in quotient, as 908—98 3

A somewhat similar investigation was carried out by Holloway.
He tabulated the number of errors made on each of the addition
combinations by 1,065 third-grade children. His results are given
in Table 128 in the order of the number of errors, parallel to those
of Phelps. While there is considerable agreement between the two
studies as to the relative difficulty of the various combinations,
there are also rather striking disagreements. How much these
differences are due to the stress which had been put upon the
various combinations in the teaching of the children cannot be
determined. The latter defect is much less likely in Holloway's
results because of his much wider range of subjects.

Holloway also tabulated the errors in the multiplication com-
binations in the test papers of 1,215 third-grade children. They
are given in detail in Table 129.



73


73


77


75


20


22


19


20


6


5


4


5


39


27


19


10


15


19


3,7


33,


14


18


25


23


15


19


7


II


4


I


I


I


4


3





6


I


4


4


6


I


I


3


3


7


8


4


7



414 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY



TABLE 128



Table showing the relative difficulty of the various addition combinations for
the third and eighth grades respectively



Com-
binations


Number of Er-
rors BY 1,065
3rd Grade Sub-
jects. — Hollo-
way


Per Cent of Errors

IN 5,950 Papers

from 238 8th Grade

Children. —

Phelps


Com-
binations


Holloway


Phelps


9+8


95


2.44


8 +1


19


.62


9 + 7


90


332


3


+ I


19


•45


9 +6


82


2.60


4


+ 3


18


.67


8 + 7


69


2.30


3


+ 2


17


■54


8 + 5


68


3.10


6 + 1


17


2. 22


8+6


66


1.04


I


+ I


17


.27


7 +5


56


2.25


4


+ 2


16


■50


9+4


51




9


+ 2


15


1. 16


7 +6


50


1.56


5


+ I


15


.72


9+5


49


2.50


4


+ I


15


1.30


7 +4


48


1-95


5


+ 2


13


.86


9 +3


43


2-55


9


+ I


13


1.09


8+3


41


1.94


8


+ 2


13


.88


8+8


37


1.98


5


+ 5


9


.07


8+4


37


2.38


2


+ 2


9


■37


7 +3


37


2.02


4


+ 4


8


.12


6+4


34


.69


3


+ 3


8


1.46


6 +5


32


2.27





+ 8




.62


9+9


29


■30





+ 5




•52


5+3


26


I-3I





+




•39


7+2


24


1.32





+ 3




.28


2 + I


21


.64





+ I




-25


7 + 7


20


.14





+ 4




• 24


6+6


20


•35





+ 7




• 24


5+4


20


.72





+ 9




•15


6+3


20


1. 19





+ 2




• 14


7 +1


20


2.42





+ 6




•05


6 + 2


19


.71











ARITHMETIC



415



TABLE 129



Table showing the order of difficulty
of 1,215 third grade children



as determined by the number of
at end of year. After Phelps.



II X


II. .


735


12 X


II. .


.655


II X


10. .


.638


12 X


10. .


• 542


12 X


8..


. 460


9 X


7 -


■ 455


12 X


7 •


• 438


8 X


7 -


435


12 X


12. .


■425


9 X


8..


. 422


12 X


9


.417


9 X


6..


390


8 X


8..


• 361


12 X


6..


361


8 X 63 . .


• 42


9 X


4 •


. 292


7 X


6. .


.285


12 X


5- ■


271


7 X


7- ■


. 268


9 X


9. .


263


12 X


4 •


■ 250


10 X


10. .


.241


8 X


4- •


• 23s


7 X


4. .


. .192


12 X


3- ■


.183



II X 9.


.181


7 Xs-


. .181


9 X3.


.169


9X5


. 168


II X 8.


.167


8X3


• 151


II X 6.


■ 144


6 Xs


.138


II X 7


■ 137


8X5


■ 137


6X4


■^33


6X6.


.129


II X 5


• 113


6X3


. 102


II X 3-


99


10 X 9


94


10 X 7-


. 86


10 X 8.


8s


12 X 2.


. . 81


10 X 6.


■ 79


4X4.


.. 78


4X3


.. 76


7 X3-


• • 71


10 X 5-


■• 58


8X2.


.. S8



5X4...


■55


6X2..


50


5 X3-.


46


II X 2...


46


I X I...


.41


9X2...


39


10 X 3


.38


7X2...


.38


5 Xs ■


34


4X2...


■32


10 X 4-


31


10 X 2...


31


II X I...


31


4X1...


31


3X1...


.28


5X2...


.26


3 X3-.


■25


9X1...


.22


3X2...


.21


9X1...


.21


6X1...


.21


12 X I. ..


.20


5X1...


.20


2X1...


.20


2X2...


.18


8X1...


.18


10 X I...


.12



CHAPTER XXI
HISTORY

Psychological Processes in Learning History

It is more difficult, at least more uncertain, to make an analysis
of the psychological processes concerned in the learning of history
than it is in case of most of the subjects treated thus far, for the
reason that teachers are not as fully agreed as to what is to be
learned in history. In general there are two extreme views: One
would hold that the learning of history means the learning of the
main facts — names, dates and events — of the human race; while
the other would hold that history means the acquisition of abiUty
to interpret the significance of human events. In their most ex-
treme forms the two views would be a memorizing of isolated
facts versus an interpretation of facts with little emphasis on
facts. Probably no one holds either of these extreme positions and
the distinction is useful only for analytical purposes since the
psychological processes involved in learning history would be
quite different in these two modes of approaching the subject.
Those who stress the interpretational aspect of history would
stress the conception that the purpose of history in the pubUc
schools is training for citizenship or the development of patriotism.

Let us assume for our present analysis that the obvious aim of
what is to be learned or acquired in history is facts of the events
of human beings and the connections among these facts — a, view
to which probably every one could agree. What are the psycho-
logical functions concerned in acquiring and connecting historical
facts? Let us take as a concrete instance a given historical event
and see what mental operations are necessary to grasp, interpret
and remember it. Let us take the statement that Columbus dis-
covered America in 1492. The psychological processes involved
or assumed in learning and grasping this statement would be
substantially as follows: To begin with, it would involve all the
steps enumerated in the analysis of the reading process, or of the
process involved in understanding spoken language when the facts
are heard instead of read, since practically all history is learned

416



HISTORY 417

through reading. The chief difference would be in the emphasis
and elaboration of some of the steps. Taking the factors as enu-
merated in Chapter XVI, the main difference between ordinary
reading and learning history would be in step (6): "The establish-
ing or arousal of association processes whereby the incoming im-
pulses are interpreted." These specific processes of association
and interpretation over and above ordinary reading, necessary for
grasping a historical statement are as follows:

(i) A mental picturing or conceiving of the persons, actions,
localities and objects, concerned in the event.

(2) A mental picturing or conceiving of points and locations in
time.

(3) Processes (i) and (2) applied to events preceding the one in
question.

(4) Processes (i) and (2) apphed to events succeeding the one
in question.

(5) A judgment concerning the internal motives of the persons
and the external conditions that led to the event.

(6) A judgment concerning the effect of the event upon the
motives of the persons and environmental conditions involved in
succeeding events.

(7) A remembering of the mental processes in steps (i) to (6),
in so far as a permanent memory of them is considered important.

Steps (i) to (4) use primarily the imagination, steps (5) and (6)
judgment and reasoning, and step (7) memory.

Thus the grasping, interpreting, and remembering of the state-
ment that Columbus discovered America in 1492 would mean, (i)
An imagining or conceiving of Columbus as a person, his asso-
ciates, ships, water, the voyage and landing on new soil; (2) an
imagining or conceiving of the time so as to give a notion of how
long ago 1492 was; (3) and (4) a similar procedure with events
coming before and after this particular one, such as Columbus's
interview at the court of Queen Isabella of Spain, the need for
another route to India, succeeding voyages, settlement of the new
country, and the like; (5) and (6) judgments concerning the effect
of the preceding events in bringing about the particular event
under consideration, and judgments concerning the effect of the
latter in bringing about later events; and (7) a repetition of the
learning of the fact with its connections to fix it in mind.



41 8 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY

Measurement of Attainment in History

The difficulties that beset any endeavor to devise an objective
and generally acceptable method of measuring attainment in
history are very great for the reason that historians differ very
widely in the selection, emphasis and interpretation of facts and
in the manner of stating the facts; and also for the reason that
teachers as well as texts differ in the relative emphasis on the learn-
ing and remembering of facts as compared with their interpreta-
tion. The author has prepared a plan with the aim of meeting
these difficulties as far as possible so as to secure a test that could
be used fairly wherever American history is taught; it is necessary
to exercise much care in selecting the right material for testing
purposes. The scheme finally carried out was as follows: Five
widely used text-books in American History were carefully com-
pared and all facts and interpretations given in all five were selected
and formulated into statements or sentences. This gave a total
of 278 statements — a remarkably small body of facts common to
five texts. These statements were then made into a mutilated
text or completion test. Certain important words or phrases were
omitted which are to be supplied by the pupils doing the test. The
entire 278 statements would be too long as a single test. Hence
they were split up into four parallel sets, each containing 69 or 70
statements, by taking for the first set, statements numbers (i),
(5), etc.; for the second set, numbers (2), (6), etc.; these four tests
may be used interchangeably at different times in testing a class.
Direct comparisons and measurements of progress can thereby
be made. The score of a pupil is the number of omitted parts
correctly supplied. The following statements serve to illustrate
the nature of the resulting test. They are the first ten statements
of the first test.

1. discovered America in 1492.

2. John Cabot exploring for the in 1497 landed

on the coast and claimed the country for — ■ — ■ — ■ — •



3. sailed around the globe in 1519-1521.

4. ■■ discovered the Mississippi River in 1541.

5. Two expeditions sent out by to settle Vir-
ginia in 1585 and 1587 respectively, failed.

6. — • was governor of Virginia after Delaware

left.



HISTORY 419

-in service of the Dutch East India Com-



pany, explored the river in 1609.

8. was Governor of the Dominion of New Eng-
land, which was composed of (i) (2) — ■ ■

and (3) .



9. John Winthrop came to America in 1630 and settled-



10. New Hampshire was founded in ■ ■.

The following are the average scores for the ends of the different
grades obtained from approximately 2,000 pupils:

Grade 6 7 8 H. S.

Scores 7 20 38 38

Individual differences and overlapping of successive grades as
shown in Figure 22 are enormously wide. In a certain eighth grade
composed of thirty-six pupils, the best pupil made a score of 102
and the poorest a score of 4. The differences among various schools
are indicated in Table 130. Very wide differences exist, which are
probably due chiefly to differences in methods of teaching. Thus
the best eighth grade made a score of 66 and the lowest one a
score of 19. Even in the same school system the differences among
schools may be very wide. For example, in city N, the best eighth
grade averaged 52 and the poorest 19. Another striking observa-
tion is the fact that the average attainment of the high school
pupils is no better than that of the eighth grade. Apparently the
pupils relearn in the high-school course in American history about
as much as they forgot during the intervening two or three years
since they left the eighth grade. This does not necessarily mean
that American history in the high school is useless since the re-
learning will help to guard against further loss. More extensive
tests are needed on this point.

Striking sex differences in knowledge of history have been re-
vealed by such a test as the one here described. The median scores
for boys and girls in the writer's test were as follows:

Boys Girls

Number Median Score Number Median Score

High School 47 41 73 36

8th grade 288 45 352 31

7th grade 94 24 loi 17



42 o



EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY



Bell and McCollum applied a history test to 1,500 pupils and found
similar differences. The boys in the elementary schools did 28%
better and in the high schools 31% better than the girls. This
superiority on the part of the boys may be due to their greater
interest in battles which in turn may be due to the greater strength
of the fighting instinct.



TABLE 130

Scores in the writer's American History Test, Series A
Grade 7 8 H. S.

City A — 66 35

" B —

" C —

" D, School I —



igthJ



E 17

F —

G, School I 22

2 17

1 17

2 19

1 29



H
I



J

K

L

M

N School I .



IS



17



66
30
32
22

59

33
40

65
40
48

33



36
32
29

33
19
52

29



42



39
41



Economic Methods in the Learning and Teaching of History

Experimental work that has been done up to the present time in
the psychology and pedagogy of school subjects has been confined
almost entirely to the subjects thus far considered. Yet the prob-
lems and factors entering into such a subject as history are exceed-
ingly intricate and as much worth while and for the most part as
capable of experimental determination as most of the problems in
the other subjects. The discussion of factors and conditions
affecting the most economic procedure in history will, therefore.



HISTORY 421

have to be limited to a few suggestions and beginnings in experi-
mental work. The problem for the future will consist in determin-
ing the factors which promote or retard the elements enumerated
in the first section of this chapter. Economic procedure in learning
history resolves itself into discovering the most favorable means
of, and a measurement of their actual effects in, grasping, imagin-
ing, judging and remembering the important events of the human
race.

(i) By what means may the imagining or conceiving of a given
event be brought about most effectively? Numerous devices are
employed to assist the imagination, such as pictures, dramatiza-
tions, pageants, etc. These are probably used with profit but no
one has ever determined to what extent they actually contribute,
or whether they contribute at all to the better understanding of
the event, or how much time devoted to dramatization, for ex-
ample, is worth the returns it may bring. Experimental work
should obviously be undertaken. Dramas and pageants may be
easily overdone and may often deal with unimportant phases of
the persons or events concerned.

(2) By what method may the imagining or conceiving of a given
event in time with respect to other events be accomplished? Ori-
entation in time is a very complex psychological process and prob-
ably develops rather gradually through the years of a child's
experience. It probably develops from the immediate perceptions
of changes in the child's environment to the gradual extension to
longer historical periods which are not directly perceived but are
thought of in symbolic form. Thus the writer pictures different
periods and points in history in spatial terms by imagining a hori-
zontal line about three feet in length extending from a point, which
represents the present, toward the left, that is back to the past.
The discovery of America is located about four inches to the left
from the beginning point, the birth of Christ about a foot and a
half to the left, and so forth for other approximate locations in
time. As a mere opinion, the writer believes that it would be
advantageous to introduce the pupil to the study of history by
giving a bird's-eye view over long stretches of time, as this would
probably aid the imagination in conceiving time. Historians
usually object rather strenuously to this method of introducing or
teaching history. Psychologically, it would seem easier to imagine
long periods of time and the relative location of events in them by
viewing all history pretty much at a glance, and by giving then



422 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY

more and more detailed consideration to each period. But this
again is a problem requiring experimental determination.

(3) How may judgments about the personal motives of histori-
cal figures and causal relations among events be best developed?
Nobody knows. All we can say is to encourage the making of
such judgments and interpretations according to the best insight
of the pupil and then to check them up with those of competent
historians.

(4) What are the most effective methods of remembering his-
torical events? In spite of the extensive experimental work in the
field of memory, there is very little in the way of concrete advice
that can be given to a pupil to assist him at this point. The fol-
lowing, partly general and partly specific, suggestions may be
given. These have been corroborated by experimental data and
have been stated in Chapter XII on How to Study, and in Chapter
XVI on Reading, and will, therefore, be only mentioned here.

a. Thoroughly understand the facts you wish to remember.

b. Systematize the facts to be remembered.

c. Look for the essentials.

d. Recall, after every paragraph or two, the essential ideas read.

e. At longer intervals, re-think or review the essential ideas
again.

f. Develop your own special means, associative links, or schemes
for remembering certain facts. Systems of memory such as that
developed by Loisette for remembering, for example, the names of
the Presidents of the United States, consist in establishing certain
associations of similarity in sound between certain parts of the
successive names, as shown in the following illustration:

George WashingTON In. "Ton" and "John" make a fairly good

JOHN Adams In. by sound.

JOHN Adams In. "John" and "Thom" (the "h" is silent

THOMas Jefferson in both names) make an IN. by sound,

imperfect but adequate if noticed.

Thomas JefferSON In. Both names terminating with the same

James MadiSON syllable, "son," makes a dear case of In.

by sound and spelling.

JAMES Madison In. This pair of names furnishes an example

JAMES Monroe of jierfect In. by sound and spelling in

the Christian names.



HISTORY 423



Jamcb MONroe In. "Mon" and "John" give us a good In.

JOHN Q. Adams by sound.

JOHN Q. Adams In. "Jack" is a nickname for John — a case

Andrew JACKson of Synonymous In.

Etc. (Loisette, p. 26.)

The main objection to such a plan is its artiiicialty. The chief
advantage is that it does draw specific attention to the facts to be
remembered; but everyone can develop his own special links or
clues for retaining facts with which he has difficulty. These are
likely to be more natural, more serviceable and more permanent
than artificial ones forced upon the learner from the outside. The
main point is that each one should attempt to establish such clues
which will usually result in discovering useful associative links and
at the same time force attention upon the facts to be retained.

(5) Another very important problem in the economy of learning
history is the question of essential material. What should the
child really be expected to master? What facts, names and dates
should he actually learn? What interpretations should he be led
to make and acquire? In general there has been a distinct shift
from regarding history as a chronicle of wars to regarding history
as a tracing of the development of political, industrial and social
institutions. In recent years, various committees have been at
work to decide upon a body of minimum essentials. Thus the
committees of Iowa and Minnesota have made the following sug-
gestions as simimarized by Betts ('17):

"Wars. Limit the study of wars to their remote and immediate
causes; their general geography; resources and problems of nations in-
volved; general plan of military operations; a few critical battles; im-
portant leaders; what the war settled, and the after effects; cost in men
and treasure. This plan will reduce the war phase of history study by
more than half.

'"Eliminate the detailed study of battles except: Battle of Quebec;
Lexington and Concord; Bunker Hill; Saratoga; Yorktown; Lake Erie;
Merrimac and ISIonitor; Gettysburg; Vicksburg; Manila.

"Dates. Limit the memorizing of dates to events of central impor-
tance like the following: 1492, the discovery of America; 1607, settlement
of Jamestown; 1619, slavery introduced; 1620, Pilgrims land at Plymouth;
1643, confederation of colonies; 1775, Lexington, Concord and Bunker
Hill; 1776, Declaration of Independence; 1781, Comwallis surrenders;
1789, First Congress; 1793, Whitney's cotton gin; 1803, Louisiana Pur-



424 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY

chase; 1807, Fulton's steamboat; 181 2, war with England; 1820, Missouri
Compromise; 1823, Monroe Doctrine; 1826, first railroad; 1844, first
telegraph; 1846, sewing-machine invented; 1845, first reaper; 1846-
1848, Mexican War; 1861, secession and Civil War; 1863, Emancipation
Proclamation; Gettysburg, Vicksburg; 1S66, Atlantic cable; 1876, first
telephone, 1878, electric light invented; 1898, war with Spain; 1903,
first wireless across Atlantic; 1914, world war in Europe.

"Other omissions. Detailed provisions of various tariff acts (but the
meaning of tariff should be understood); details of political campaigns
except Jefferson's, Jackson's, Lincoln's and any current campaign in
progress; critical study of political party principles (but give broad
distinctions between chief rival parties); financial panics except those of
1837, 1S73, 1893." (Pp. 271 and 272.)

Bagley ('15) has been engaged on working out a possible scien-
tific plan for determining the relative emphasis upon various
portions of history by discovering the frequency of reference to
persons and events made in current magazines and newspapers.
He concludes that such a study is suggestive but doubts whether
it may serve as a final criterion for determining the amount of
time and emphasis to be given to various phases of history.



Online LibraryDaniel StarchEducational psychology → online text (page 36 of 41)