Differentiated chemistry in the junior college - Journal of Chemical

Differentiated chemistry in the junior college. K. L. Carter. J. Chem. Educ. , 1930, 7 (4), p 845. DOI: 10.1021/ed007p845. Publication Date: April 193...
0 downloads 0 Views 2MB Size

There has been almost as much talk of late about the college chemistry course as there has been about one of the amendments to our United States Constitution and nearly as many solutions offered. THISJOURNAL has aided tremendously in keeping before us the best there is in current thought and practice on the question. Most of the articles have originated from the smaller colleges. That is to say, the large state and endowed universities, with one exception, do not seem to he experiencing any difficulty with their freshman chemistry courses. I believe there is a good reason why they are not and perhaps the same reason accounts for our trouble. The high schools have solved their problems by separating their fast and slow chemistry students into separate sections. X and Y courses in high-school chemistry have been established for half a dozen years or more in the leading high schools of our country. But a t the junior college we hear about modified courses, about special courses, courses for students who have had no high-school chemistry and all the rest of the pandemic and panaceic courses in chemistry. There are also the "diploma" courses offered by some of our junior colleges and those of you familiar with this type of course know its value. To those not familiar with i t I will say more presently. I want to speak for the moment to those who are offering no beginning course in chemistry except the regular freshman course of university standard. I want to tell you of our situation in Sacramento to see how it may compare with yours. There y e have an excellent high school giving chemistry in two sections, the fast group and the slow group, or X and Y courses. These courses are entirely sepayate, full recognition being given to students of different ability. Then a t the junior college we take in these students, both the X and Y students, and many more, many whom the university would never receive, that is, the Form B students. The X and Y students want chemistry, so do the Form B students in general, as well as the Form A. Shall we give them all the same course? Let us see. We take much pride in our chemistry a t Sacramento and try to give a course just as close to university caliber as is within our power. There is nothing unique in this; any junior college under rigorous state supervision must do the same, but we are doing this, not with university students, far from it. I n fact, the bulk of our students could not matriculate a t the University of California or Stanford. For every "university" student (Form A student) that we have in our classes, we have two non-recommended students sitting right beside him. That is the ratio, two to one. In other words, GG% or 669 out of 1005of our regular students this year were Form B students. Now what kind of grades would these students have received in *Address to the Division of Chemical Education, Berkeley meeting in the fall of 1929 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. a45



APRIL, 1930

freshman chemistry if by some means they could have been allowed to take university chemistry? A few I warrant would have passed, but certainly the majority would not. What then if we in junior college should give failing marks to this 66%, also failing marks to three or four per cent of the Form A's as is customary? It could not be done and tliis brings out more emphatically our purpose in the junior college. We are decidedly not just a first two years of university. If we were, we would not have two-thirds of our student body made up of non-recommended students. The question may arise then, isn't the junior college tending to become more like the university as the college grows from year to year? Perhaps i t should, but the facts at Sacramento show exactly the opposite, namely, that we are growing to be less of a university institution. Each year sees a higher per cent of non-recommended.students constituting our classes. In 1925 but 45Yo of the enrolment were Form B students. By 1927 the honors were divided, a fifty-fiftyproportion enrolling, and in October of last fall the Form B students enrolled in twice the numbers as did Form A students. I would not say this is an alarming situation, but it does indicate the nature of the work placed in the hands of the junior college, and if the kind of students we are teaching determines the nature of our school then we are primarily not a little university or a part of a university a t all, but a terminal institution and we are becoming more of one every year. Why then should not more terminal courses be given? Fortunately, a few are being given and these colleges which we most recognize as leaders are offeringcourses fo; the Form B students. They are the "Diploma" courses which I have previodsly mentioned. These courses are open to and must be taken by the Form B student until he makes sufficiently high grades to warrant his transfer to courses giving university credit. This is a most commendablerecognition of the two-fold duty incumbent upon the junior college and some scheme of this kind must be used to handle the situation. We have a more diversified problem than the university. We cannot mix our chemistry students all in one course. They were separated for us in high school and the difference between the two groups of students has been increased by the time they reach the junior college, increased by the difference between an intensive chemistry course to the one group and a weaker course to the other group. Appreciating then the need for a differentiated course a word might be said about the nature of the course itself. There have been so many ways of giving modified courses that I shall not outline a new type. I know that each one of you has had experience of one kind or other in shaping a modified course. That alone is a considerable problem. There is one tendency in making a modified course which should be watched rather closely, I would say, and that is the tendency to favor a little too much the spectacular. In an effortto make the course appeal to the student,

VOL. 7, NO.4



there is apt to be an over-emphasis of thestriking hair-raising demonstrations with perhaps too much slighting of the fundamentals. In any event, the differentiated course should not be adjusted to a level too far below the ability of the diploma student. It should tax his ability as much as theregular course taxes the brighter student's ability. I say this because an authority of the Sacramento High School has mentioned to me a tendency for some of the brighter students to take the weaker courses because they are easier and when allowed to choose for themselves, anything sufficesjust to "get by." The scope of the course I shall not attempt to discuss in detail. To quite an extent it may depend upon the needs of the particular class of students. The instructor's personal interests and background are always reflected. I would say it should differfrom the regular course in point of emphasis and as to rate of ground covered rather than to subject matter. After all, the courses of freshman chemistry given by the universities are not so far wrong, but the difficultywhich the poorer student encounters is the rapid rate a t which the course develops. He needs more time to assimilate the fundamentals which the quicker student grasps more readily. We tried an experimental course this spring semester a t the Sacramento Junior College in addition to our regular freshman course. It was open to any and all students. Obviously it was a differentiated course, but to accommodzte a few pre-professional and engineering students we still called it Chemistry 1A that they might secure their university credit. Then as insurance that the proper standard would be attained by these pre-medical and engineering students, i t was stipulated that a grade of a t least B must be obtained to permit further work in chemistry. In spite of these stipulations they flocked in to enroll. Nearly eighty started the course. That is one point where we resemble the university, they grasp for an easy course. I in-agine it was not as easy as i t might have been for some twelve or fourteen dropped it very quickly. Some of the results of the course were interesting. The student who received the highest number of points (the tests were all objective) had had no high-school or other previous chemistry. This was just an experimental course and more or less of an emergency measure. I t served its purpose and was on the whole quite satisfactory. There are other ways in which the less apt or less interested student has been provided for in chemistry. At the University of California a t Los Angeles they are giving the customary chemistry 1A-1B of five units per semester and in addition they offer a chemistry 2A-2B of four units per semester for which there are no prerequisites. The course is accepted in satisfaction of science requirements for the junior certificate but gives to the student two units less than the regular year course. I t moreover does not lead to higher chemistry courses. I might mention that we have had a virtual differentiation for some years a t the University of California a t Davis. There they have the courses for




A m , 1930

the regular students who are candidates for degrees and there are the courses for the non-degree students. The two are entirely different. One hears some of adjusting the course to the pace of the best students and letting the balance get out of i t an amount proportional to their iuterest or ability. By this means i t is said differentiated courses are not necessary. I need say little more about this. The backward student in a laboratory course takes too much of the instructor's time. The better student is robbed. Either that, or the slow student becomes thoroughly discouraged and drops out. I believe that a differentiated course of some sort, as well as the regular course, has become a necessity in the junior college.

EPITAPHIUM CEEMICUM, 1791 Here lieth t o digest, macerate, and But the radical moisture being exhausted, amalgamate with clay, The Elixir Vitae spent, I n baluec arenae, And easiccated to a cuticle, Stratum super stratum. He could not suspend longer in his vehicle: The residuum, terra damnata, and caput But precipitated gradatim, mortuum Per campanem, To his original dust; OF A CHEMIST. May the light shove, A man who in his earthly laboratory More resplendent than Bolognian phosPursued various pracesses t o obtain phorus, T H E ARCANUM VITAE, Preserve him Or the secret t o LIVE; prom the athaner, empyreuma, and Also the AURUM VITAE, or Reverberatory furnace of the other world: The art of getting, not making, gold. Depurate him from the faeces and scoria of Alchemist-like, he saw all his labor and this; projection, Highly rectify and volatilize As mercury in the fire, evaporated in fume, His ethereal spirit; When he dissolved t o his first principles, Bring it safely out of thecrucible of earthly He departed as poor trial, As the last drops of an alembic. Place i t in a proper recipient Though fond of novelty, he carefully Among the elect of the Flowers of avoided Benjamin; The fermentation, effervescence, and Never to be saturated till the general Decrepitation of this life. resuscitation, Full seventy years Deflagration, calcination, His exalted essence And sublimation of all things. Was hermetically sealed in its terrene matrass;

The Kalends of The Williams & Wilkins Co.

The Russian Sulfuric Acid Industry is to be extended greatly. The utilization of wnstc gases from smelting works is to be systematically developed. The smelting works already operating can supply sulfur dioxide for the production of 800,000 tons of acid.-Chm. Age