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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 50, Number 10 (July 1949)

New look,   pp. 23-26


Page 23


  Does the Schneider plan work? Yes, when Schneider's spelled-out tech-
nique is followed. Without the dean of instruction it has been found prac-
tically worthless, since he is the enforcing agent. Unfit teachers are indif-
ferent to the tabulations of their unfitness; they've known for years that
they were doing a miserable job on the lectern; why should student protests,
which they've long sensed, shake them out of their lethargy now?
  Are students competent to grade or rate professors? Usually. A high
correlation was found in individual comments; students, regardless of per-
sonal standing, were in agreement trait by trait. At Michigan faculty mem-
bers sat in on many classes and graded the professors right along with their
students. A high correlation resulted. Perennial gripers were few, easily
spotted, and proportionately discounted.
  Faculty reaction to this gauntlet of praise and criticism? On the whole-
favorable. Many who opposed the plan in embryo became converts later.
The good teachers appreciated the recognition and acknowledgment of their
abilities. Many of the poorer teachers were pleased to have their teaching
defects pointed out. Many wrought corrections and were graded much higher
the following semester.
  The Schneider plan has been endorsed by Paul Klapper, former president
of Queens College; A. G. Ruthven, president of Michigan University; Robert
M. Hutchins, chancellor of the University of Chicago; John Dewey; and
Wisconsinites Alexander Meiklejohn, C. J. Anderson, and John Guy Fowlkes.
Clash at California
  But Dr. Schneider's apparently sane and well-intentioned proposals have
been wrecked repeatedly on the shoals of faculty opposition. The struggle
on his own campus, California, is a good capsule example of what has hap-
pened frequently elsewhere. The opening guns went off in March, 1940,
when the editor of the Daily Californian wrote a piece called "The Con-
sumers' Angle of Teaching", which maintained that students are eager
to
get some real good out of their short years in college and resent having
their time wasted. Listed was a series of student gripes. Indicted: profs
who consistently read their entire lectures (some right out of the texts);
profs who couldn't be heard beyond the second row; profs who assigned as
many as 90 outside reading books for a two credit course. (These objections
were later found to be valid by a faculty investigating committee.)
   The editorial brought a flood of letters, which included this interesting
 comment:
    "Poor teachers won't be influenced by merely having their shortcomings
  pointed out to them. Obviously if a professor has been teaching the same
  course for 10 years, and students still try desperately to get into any
other
  possible section, he must know they aren't getting what they want. It seems
  that quite a few professors are desirous of having as few students as possible,
  because it means less work for them."
  The Californian went to bat with other editorials, conducted open letter
  forums pro and con, printed a ballot for students to indicate their opinions
  of the Schneider plan. The administration of the university promptly for-
  bade publication of ballot results. Campus police took into custody those
  students who attempted, to distribute ballots which had been printed sep-
  arately. After much recrimination and counter-recrimination, a poll was
  allowed and the students voted 85 per cent in favor of the plan, seven
  against, eight undecided. It took the administration several years to act
on
  the poll, but the system was finally instituted on an experimental basis.
  Meanwhile Dr. Schneider was dodging brickbats, like this letter from a
  colleague:
    "What use will be made of these reaction sheets? If information
is to be
    furnished to the administration, to chairmen of departments, or to promotion
    committees, I think immeasurable harm can be done. When you consider
that
    many of the unfavorable opinions will be expressed by disgruntled students,
    you must realize that such criticism is spiteful and has little actual
bearing
    on the work done by or the value of an instructor. If such criticism
is to be
    used against individuals, then your work becomes a menace rather than
a help.
    "I feel that most criticism cannot be appraised unless the standing
of the
    student is known. I feel that this entire matter should be cleared up
at a
    very early date so that the faculty will know exactly what is going on.
You
    are a member of this faculty; your responsibilities are to it and not
to the
    students. No one is more interested in seeing that students are well
taken
    care of and well taught than I am. On the other hand, I feel that no
member
    of the faculty should be placed under the threat and fear of criticisms
whose
    basis cannot be evaluated."
 "Help   and   Stimulation"
   Dr. Schneider replied:
   "In reading over 5600 reaction sheets I have gained the impression
that
   it is not true that it is chiefly the disgruntled students who write unfavorable
   comments. It is a most curious demand that the student's identity should
   be known before any value can be ascribed to his statements and criticisms-
                         (Continued on page 26)
 JULY, 1949
   NEW LOOK
   ON THE following pages
is a graphic portrayal of
the n e w UW buildings
which are either now
under construction or soon
will be if finances are
forthcoming from the Leg-
islature   and  private
donors.
   Here is the key:
   1. Wisconsin C e n t e r.
Adult education building
to be erected by the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin
Foundation.
   2. Library. First wing
will cost $4,700,000. Ap-
propriation pending.
   3. Biology Building
Wing. No funds yet avail-
able.
   4. Hospital Additions.
To be financed by $2,460,-
000 already earmarked by
Legislature and federal
government.
   5. Internes Dormitory.
Will be financed through a
loan from the Wisconsin
University Building Corp.
   6. Home Economics Ad-
dition. Money not avail-
able in University building
IL UllA.
  7. Bacteriology Center.
Part of a long-range pro-
gram for which funds have
not yet been granted.
  °8. Short Course Dorm-
itories. Now under con-
struction.
   9. Dairy Building.
Now under construction.
Named Babcock Hall.
   10. Engineering Build-
ing. The $2,557,000 west
wing is now under con-
struction.
   The basic map, the work
of Robert Jerred, '48,
may be obtained in full
color from the Independent
Men's Assn., Bascom Hall,
for $1. Building sketch-ins
provided by Albert Galli-
s t e 1, superintendent of
physical plant.
23


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