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those which keep the manner of instruction uniform but promote
or retard pupils according to their achievements.











Hxgh School

High School

1 2

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 U 15
Steps -Grammatical Scale A

Fig. 26. — Distribution and overlapping of pupils in a high school in ability
in discriminating between correct and incorrect English. The numbers along
the horizontal axis are the steps on the author's Grammatical Scale A.

The principal schemes of the first general method which have
been tried in various schools are known as the individual instruc-
tion or Pueblo plan, the monitorial group plan, the extra-work
plan, and the supervised study or Batavia plan. The individual
instruction plan was employed by Superintendent P. W. Search
in Pueblo, Colorado, and consisted in the abolition of all class
instruction and the substitution of individual teaching according
to the needs of the pupils. The monitorial group plan is carried
out by dividing a class into several groups, usually three, according



to the abilities of the pupils, and by appointing a monitor for each
group from among the members of the class. The extra-work
plan consists in having recitation and class instruction chiefly for
those who need it, and in assigning additional work to the capable
pupils to be done at their desks. The supervised study plan de-



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2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5
Average Scores



5 5.5

Fig. 27. — Distribution and overlapping of pupils when their attainments in
different subjects are averaged. Reported in a thesis by Helen Craig in the
library of the University of Wisconsin, 1918.

votes a part of the class period to the usual recitation and instruc-
tional work, and the remainder to study done under the supervision
of the teacher. Sometimes the class period is considerably length-
ened and no home study is done; at other times, the class period
is kept at the usual length with some assignments for home study.
These plans have been in operation in various schools during


the past thirty years with varying amounts of success or failure.
Most of them have been successful when carried out under the
immediate supervision of the persons who devised them. The
difficulty, however, has usually been that when others have at-
tempted to use them they have not been so satisfactory. Some
of the schemes have been objectionable on other grounds also.
For example, the individual instruction plan is in part unsatisfac-
tory because it removes a large share of the social stimulus and
interaction that is derived from class instruction.

The one type of plan which is being adopted on an extensive
scale and is proving to be generally applicable, is some form of the
supervised study plan. The methods with which this plan is
carried out differ considerably and great care must be taken to
avoid formality in the division of the time between recitation and
study during the class period and in the order and manner in which
the supervision is carried out. A more detailed discussion will
be given in the chapter on "How to Study" where this subject
properly belongs.

The different schemes coming under the second general proposi-
tion, namely, that of keeping the manner of instruction constant
and varying the rate of promotion, have been applied widely,
and many different plans designed to produce greater flexi-
bility in the rate of promotion have been worked out in various
school systems. As illustrations, two plans will be mentioned
because they have been in successful operation for many years.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, there has been in operation a plan
for some twenty years, in which the work of grades three to eight
is laid out in three different courses of study. Pursuit of course A
permits the completion of the remaining six grades in six years;
pursuit of course B permits the completion of the work in five
years; and the pursuit of course C makes possible the completion
of the six grades in four years. Transfer from one course to another
may take place at any time.

In the St. Louis schools a method of promotion has been in force
for a great many years which consists in dividing the school year
into four quarters of ten weeks each. Promotion can be made
at the end of each quarter. Pupils who have made a grade of
excellent may be promoted to the next higher class at the end of
any ten-week period, and pupils who have made very low grades
or practically failed, must repeat their work beginning with the
various ten-week periods.


The effect of this plan in shortening the time of a considerable
proportion of pupils is shown in a study made by W. J. Stevens. 1
This investigation shows the length of time required by each of
1,439 pupils in four elementary schools in St. Louis to complete the
eight grades.


The average attendance per grade of 1,439 pupils, graduates, required to com-
plete each of the eight grades. Forty weeks is assigned in the course of
study for each grade.

NtJMBER OF Average Ntiuber of Number of Average Number of
Pupils Weeks to Complete Pupils Weeks to Complete

Each Grade Each Grade

1 17 33 41

2 18 49 42
I 20 29 43
I 21 27 44
8 22 19 45
8 23 20 46

13 24 IS 47

17 25 9 48

19 26 S 49

25 27 4 SO

46 28 4 SI

43 29 2 52

52 30 2 53

83 31 2 54

103 32 I SS
99 33 2 56

109 34 2 57

92 35 2 58

no 36 I 59

87 37 I 60

104 38 2 62
95 39 I 63
87 40 2 70

Median 35 weeks

Total average time of attendance 2S8 weeks

To do 320 weeks' work

Double promotions 17%

Normal promotions 67%

Repeaters 16%

It will be noticed from this table that thirteen pupils completed
the eight grades in an average of twenty weeks to do forty weeks

^ Reported in a thesis (1914) in the library of the University of Wisconsin. The study
was carried out under the directioa of Professor E. C. Elliott.


of work, that is, in half of the prescribed amount of time. In other
words, about i% of the pupils required approximately four years,
6.3% five years, 22.8% six years, 34.6% seven years, 24.9% eight
years, 7.6% nine years, 1.7% ten years, and 1.3% eleven to thirteen
years to complete the eight grades. These results agree quite
closely with the figures suggested on page 39.

Promotion by subjects is a plan adopted in various schools. The
jirogram must be arranged so that all grades recite in the same
subject at the same period in order that a pupil may do his work
with the particular class to which he belongs. For example, a fifth-
grade pupil might recite in spelling with a seventh-grade class, in
reading with a sixth-grade class, in arithmetic with a fourth-grade
class, and so on.

In high school work there is equal need for flexibility in progress.
Plans should be devised whereby a class could be divided into
three sections, a rapid, a normal, and a slow section. For example,
an algebra class, after some early tests, could be divided into three
divisions. Section A could easily do the year's work in two-thirds
of the year and then pass on to geometry or more advanced algebra
or even some other subject. Section B could do the normal work
in the year, and Section C could take a year and a third to do the
normal year's work, or could cover only two-thirds of the ground
in the year and receive only two-thirds credit. Differences in
ability are sufficiently great to make possible as much dif-
ference in progress as is here indicated. The more capable
pupils could easily shorten their high school course by half a year
or a year.

A plan of flexible promotion that can be administered success-
fully has in many respects distinct advantages over any plan which
merely varies the instruction for the reason that it allows the
capable pupil really to gain the advantage of his ability; because
he is able to shorten his elementary school period, which is one of
the aims striven for at the present time. The elementary school
course is considered too long. Any plan which varies the method
of instruction so as to require more work of the capable pupil no
doubt occupies the time of these pupils and gives them the benefit
of the additional work achieved, but it does not give the pupil the
full benefit that he deserves in accordance with his capacities. In
practical life the capable man performs several times as much
work or makes several times as rapid progress in the same ]ieriod
of time as the incapable man, both having equal opportunities.


Why should not the schools permit progress according to ability
and achievement? Greater flexibility in promotion or retardation
is an advantage both to the more gifted and to the less gifted pu-
pils. The former will be able to step forward whenever they are
ready and the latter will not need to step back so far whenever a
part of the work must be gone over again. Promotion once a year
works to the disadvantage of both types of pupils. The bright
pupils cannot well jump an entire year and so will not be able to
progress as rapidly as their abilities warrant, while the slower
pupils will have to repeat an entire year when a quarter or half of
a year would be sufficient. School progress is determined too
much by the calendar and not enough by capacity. The most
capable one-third of pupils are advanced too slowly, and the least
capable one-third are advanced too rapidly. A saving of half a
year or a year on the part of a fourth or a third of the pupils would
be of inestimable value to the pupils themselves and to the com-
munity at large, either in getting an earlier start in their life
work, or, preferably, in securing more advanced and thorough

Finally, one of the most important, if not the most important
aspect of the principle of progress according to performance, is its
appeal to the individual to do the best he can. Few incentives are
as strong as the personal impulse of going forward as rapidly as
possible and of putting forth the best that is in one. If a child
knows that, if he can spell as well as the pupils in the grade above
him, he will be put with them, he will be stimulated as he would
be in no other way to reach that degree of attainment. Likewise,
if he knows that he is likely to be put back to recite in spelling
with the pupils of a lower grade if he falls behind, he will put forth
his best efforts to hold his own. Dawdling could hardly be en-
couraged more than it is in many of our schools. Rewards in
adult life are more nearly according to ability and performance.
The same conditions would work to the advantage of school

The schools have given special attention to the backward pupils
by organizing separate classes for them and by giving them extra
help, but they have given little or no attention to the advanced
pupils. Society would be compensated far more for paying at
least equal attention to the gifted pupils since they primarily will
determine the future progress of mankind. The leaders of society
will come from the right end rather than from the left end of the


distribution curve. Wisdom would dictate that we devote at
least as much care and thought to them, that we surround them
with an atmosphere of high aspiration and achievement and stim-
ulate to the full their powers of originality and discovery. This
would make for maximum progress based upon ability and per-
formance, not upon birth or social caste.



Problem. Any given single trait varies over an enormously-
wide range among the members of the human race as a whole.
The problem, however, before us now is : To what extent is a given
amount of any capacity accompanied in general in the same person
by equal, larger or smaller amounts of any other ability? To what
extent is a good memory in the same person accompanied by an
equally good capacity for reasoning or attention or perception or
judgment? To what extent is poor or mediocre ability in memory
accompanied by poor or mediocre ability in other directions? If
all mental abilities were measured on a scale of o to lo, the con-
crete problem would be: To what extent would a memory ability
of 7 be accompanied in the same person by a perception ability of
7, or a judgment ability of 7? If it is not accompanied by the
same amount of other abilities, by how large or small an amount
of any other ability is it accompanied?

Educationally the problem is important and takes the following
form: To what extent may we expect pupils, who are excellent,
mediocre, or poor in one subject to be excellent, mediocre or poor in
other subjects? To what extent is a statement such as the following
true in general: "I simply cannot learn languages or mathematics,
although I get along very well in my other studies" ? To what
extent is freedom of electives in studies justifiable on the basis of
variation in the combination of capacities in the same individual?
To what extent are mental and physical traits correlated? To
what extent are abilities similar at different times of life in the
same individual? To what extent is ability in childhood or youth
a forerunner of ability in adulthood?

Methods of Measuring Combinations of Traits. The extent
to which various amounts of abilities accompany one another is
measured or expressed definitely by the coefficient of correlation.
The value of the coefficient of correlation ranges from i.oo through
o to -1.00. A coefficient of correlation of i.oo means a complete
agreement. If the coefficient of correlation between ability in



Latin and ability in German were i.oo, it would mean that the
best pupil in Latin would be also the best pupil in German, the
second best pupil in Latin would be the second best pupil in Ger-
man, etc., down to the poorest pupil in Latin who would also be
the poorest in German. As the correlation drops farther and
farther below i.oo toward o, the closeness of this agreement be-
comes correspondingly less until o is reached. If the coefficient
of correlation between abihty in Latin and ability in German
were —i.oo, it would mean that the best pupil in Latin would be
the poorest pupil in German, the second best pupil in Latin would
be the second poorest in German, etc. As the correlation rises
above —i.oo toward o the reversal becomes less and less until o is
reached. A coefficient of o means that no relationship exists.
A pupil might have any amount of ability in one subject and any
other amount of ability in the other subject.^

The Correlation Among Specific Mental Abilities. The early
investigations in this field found surprisingly small correlations
even among apparently very similar or closely related capacities.
Thus it was thought that a perties are pretty
uniformly mediocre in all respects.

Exceptions do occur such as that of a boy seventeen years of age
in the second year of the high school who was able to carry his work
satisfactorily, but was able to read no more fluently, either orally
or silently, than the average pupil can at the end of the first grade.
He was a normally intelligent boy. Such cases occur perhaps once
among one or two hundred pupils, and may be regarded as ab-

Second, intellectual and scholastic abilities are for the most
part closely correlated. Barring certain exceptions, which are
rarer than is generally supposed, abilities are combined in fairly
similar amounts. Intercorrelations between the different levels,
intellectual, sensory, and motor, seem to be smaller and in some
traits, practically zero. Some of the motor abilities, such as hand-
writing, have practically no correlation with intelligence or general
mental abilities.

The wider bearing of the facts about the combinations of
mental capacities, together with the distribution of mental traits
according to a continuous, bell-shaped curve discussed in the
preceding chapter, are deeply significant for the problem as to
whether there are distinct mental types. Mankind apparently
cannot be divided into three or four separate tyi^es. The ancient
classification of temperaments into sanguine, choleric, melancholic.


and phlegmatic, may be conveniently analogous to the four seasons
of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter respectively, but
there are no mental types that correspond to such superficial
characteristics and none that are marked off sharj^ly or even vaguely
from one another. If all members of the human race were to be
exhibited in a distribution curve whose base line represented from
left to right different amounts of " sanguine-melancholic, or choleric-
phlegmatic" natures, the curves would in all probability not be a
series of four distinct curves separated from one another, nor even
possess four modes with depressions between them, but would very
likely be single continuous distribution surfaces of the usual normal
form with one mode. The human beings who even remotely ap-
proach any one type are very rare. The rule is that each person
possesses more or less of all different traits, and within certain limits,
roughly similar amounts of the various traits. Persons in whom
the divergences are large are the exceptions rather than the rule.
\ Correlation between Special Mental Capacities and General
Intelligence. So far as definite data are available on this point,
the inference may be drawn that many special mental functions
are correlated anywhere from moderately to very closely with
general intelligence. Men of intelligence have, on the whole, keen
powers of perception, observation, and attention, remarkable re-
tentiveness, exceptionally rapid and varied association processes,
as well as unusually incisive powers of analysis and soundness of
judgment. We may note here in passing, by turning to Chapter
VII, the amounts of correlation of certain capacities with general
estimated intelligence as found by Simpson, Burt, and others.

The usefulness of the facts that many specific mental capacities
are reliable symptoms or essential constituents of general intelli-
gence will be particularly important in the future in the develop-
ment of tests and methods of measuring intelligence. The value of
this to mankind, not only in education but in all fields of human
endeavor, can hardly be foretold at the present time. Further con-
sideration will be given to it in a later chapter.
<|{ Correlations between Mental and Physical Traits. In the case
of adults, the correlations between mental abilities and such physi-
cal characteristics as height, weight, size of head, lung capacity, or
strength of grip, are either very low or zero. In the case of children,
the situation is somewhat different. B. T. Baldwin made an elabo-
rate study of 86 1 boys and 1,063 girls in the University of Chicago
elementary and high school, the F. W. Parker school of Chicago,


and the Horace Mann School of Columbia University. Measure-
ments of various physical characteristics were obtained at yearly
and half-yearly intervals on two groups of pupils. One group was
followed continuously through the ages from six to twelve, and the
other from twelve to eighteen. A parallel comparison between
the physical measurements and the school records of the same
pupils was then made. From these results, Baldwin has derived
the following conclusion :

Taller, heavier children mature physically in advance of the shorter,
lighter ones. Those whose physiological age is accelerated complete
the last grade of the elementary school at 12 years, 9 5/6 months of age
with an average of 84.3%, and those below average or of retarded phys-
iological development, complete the elementary school work at 13 years
7 4/13 months of age, with an average of 81.7%. (Bulletin of Bureau of
Education No. 581, 1914. Page 82.)

Correlations Between Early and Later Mental Abilities. The
problem here is, to what extent will a given pupil maintain his
record of excellence, mediocrity, or stupidity all through his educa-
tional career or all through his life?;,^ Will the pupil who has high,
medium, or low ability in the elementary school also have high,
medium, or low ability in high school and in college? The first y
extensive study in this field was made by W. F. Dearborn ('09) who^
traced through the high school and through the university the
scholastic records of various groups of students, varying in size
from 92 to 472, and coming from eight large and four small high
schools in Wisconsin. He divided the pupils into four quartiles
according to their marks in high school, and then ascertained to
what extent the pupils remained in the same quartiles during their
university course. His records showed that the pupils maintained
the same records with remarkable consistency. He states his con-
clusion in the following words:

We may say then, on the basis of the results secured in this group
(472 pupils) which is sufficiently large to be representative, that if a
pupil has stood in the first quarter of a large class through high school,
the chances are four out of five that he will not fall below the first half
of his class in the university. . . . The chances are but about one in
five that the student who has done poorly in high school — who has been
in the lowest quarter of his class — will rise above the median or average
of the freshman class at the university, and the chances that he will
prove a superior student at the university are very slim indeed. . . . The


Pearson coefficient of correlation of the standings in the high schools and
in the freshman year, for this group of 472 pupils is .80. ... A httle
over 80% of those who were found in the lowest or the highest quarter of
the group in high school are found in their respective halves of the
group throughout the university. . . . Three-fourths of the students '
who enter the university from these high schools will maintain through-
out the university approximately the same rank which they held in
high school.

F. O. Smith made a similar study of 120 students entering the
College of Liberal Arts at the University of Iowa. He traced their
records from high school through the entire university course and
found almost the same situation. Expressed in terms of coefficients
of correlations, the results were as follows:

Correlations. After Smith. ('12.)

H. S. average and Univ. Freshman Average. .
H. S. Average and Univ. Sophomore Average .
H. S. Average and Univ. Junior .Average ....
H. S. Average and Univ. Senior Average ....

1st and 2nd Year High School

1st and 3rd Year High School

1st and 4th Year High School

University Freshman and Sophomore

University Freshmen and Junior

University Freshmen and Senior

T. L. Kelley compared the marks of 59 pupils as they passed
from grade five up into the first year of the high school. The extent
of the agreement of their records in successive years is shown in the
following coeflBicients of correlation:

T.ABLE II. After Kelley. ('14).

Correlation between marks in the grades and marks in the first high school


First Year of High School and 7th Grade 72

First Year of High School and 6th Grade 73

First Year of High School and sth Grade 53

First Year of High School and 4th Grade 62

He then states:

"The net conclusion which may be drawn from these coefficients of

Online LibraryDaniel StarchEducational psychology → online text (page 4 of 41)