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1919-1920 Special Report on Instruction

(Submitted by the president to the Board on April 23, 1920)

Preliminary Statement

An educational institution has many points in common with a commercial or industrial enterprise; and it must go about its task in much the same way. The business organization has stockholders, who furnish the capital and appoint representatives to compose a board of directors, who in turn appoint a superintendent or manager, who in turn gathers about himself and delegates duties to a staff, the composition of which is determined in kind and number by the work to be done. There are three distinct problems before every such organization, which are prerequisite to one another in the following order, namely, (1) the discovery of the job to be accomplished, (2) the determination of the number and kind of workmen, the number and kind of tools, the amount and kind of materials necessary for the work, and the organization and processes best adapted to it, with due regard for economy and efficiency, and (3) the calculation of the cost of providing all this and the supplying of the funds. There is no logical order but this, altho of course it is frequently necessary, when the third item is found, to go back to the first and decide which portion of the job can be undertaken since funds cannot be supplied for the whole job, and then to revise the organization of men, equipment, and materials accordingly.

The Virginia Polytechnic Institute is an enterprise in which the people of Virginia are the shareholders, and the Board are the directors. The shareholders have invested about a million dollars in a physical plant, and have provided a working capital of about four hundred thousand dollars per annum. This has been done because the public has recognized, in a general way at least, that there is a demand for an education to be furnished largely at public expense for the training of our young men to enable them to develop our great natural and industrial resources. It is left to the board of control and the professional staff employed by it to determine specifically what the jobs to be undertaken are, and then to employ the force of workers and supply the equipment and materials necessary to perform these tasks with economy and efficiency, it being presumed that means will be supplied as determined by the needs.

Assuming that these premises are sound, the first duty of an institution such as this is to find its field of work, which must result in curricula designed to meet all of the proper demands, or since it is hardly ever possible to meet all, to meet the most urgent demands first. Having designed the curricula, then, and not until then, the organization can be perfected and financial needs determined in an intelligent manner.

For several years the faculties of this institution have been interested in revising its curricula, but for certain reasons the matter has never been brought to a conclusion. The need for improvement has been strongly felt by those groups of the instructional staff which are in close touch with the agricultural and industrial interests of the institution and of the state; and perhaps very much less strongly felt, if recognized at all, by that portion of the general faculty which has to do with instructional subjects of a more academic type. Doubtless this has delayed action in the matter. The changed conditions and intensified demands coming upon us in the present period have made it all the more necessary to do something in this direction. Accordingly, this year the whole matter was taken up afresh, and approached at a new angle. The president made a series of rather lengthy studies, presenting the results to the faculty in mimeographed form, with the request that these data be studied as a basis for a revision of our courses, etc. These studies have to do almost entirely with the forty-eight land-grant colleges, of which our institution is one. Many of these agricultural and mechanical colleges have developed into great institutions, rendering a type of service to their respective states which is far beyond estimation. Perhaps we may learn from a study of these institutions what has made them great, and wherein we are strong or weak as compared to them, and how we may strengthen our weak places.

General Studies In Land Grant College Statistics

By comparing the Showing made in certain characteristics by this institution and others in the group, the way may be pointed out to us for greater service to our state, and the claims which we present for state support may be strengthened. Most scientific studies of education, of administrative organization, and of resources and results are now based on statistics. The first step in the utilization of the scientific method in any study is the collection of an ample amount of representative data. It is at present very much the vogue to subject every phase of educational administration and method to quantitative study and experimentation. Numerous efforts are being made to "standardize" organization and practise. If this leads to a deadening uniformity, it is of doubtful value, but there seems little danger of this at the present time. Now, there is no clearly defined "standard practise" in the educational world at large, and certainly statistics show that the agricultural and mechanical colleges are far from having any such thing. Statistical studies, however, reveal many interesting and significant items of information concerning "current practise" in such institutions thruout the country; and these should be of value to us in revising from time to time our organization of courses, in distributing among our various activities and interests the financial resources at our command, in making our requests for funds for development and support, and in giving us in general a better knowledge of where we stand in the field we occupy.

The accompanying table contains a summary of the relative ranks for all of the fifteen factors entering into this study of the efficiency of the forty-eight institutions. In this table it will be noted that Virginia has no "very good" ranks. In total enrolment and in the number of engineering students we rank well. On the other band our rank is "poor" in the number of agricultural students, in the number of instructors provided, and in the various items making up our physical plant, indeed in equipment we fall into the "very poor" group. The amount given us by the federal government for support is comparatively "poor," partially because of the fact that one-third of the federal grants goes to the Hampton Institute. Our rank is "very poor" in the amount given us by the state for support, and of course in the total funds for support. Our support per student enrolled is extremely low as compared with the other colleges in our class. If this rank be based on the present year's enrolment (1919-20) and the appropriation for support now being received by this college, it is only 46, two steps lower than the rank shown in the table on page 46.

Organization Of Curricula

It seems highly desirable that our courses be revised and the announcement of the changes be made as soon as practicable, so that the new schedules may go into effect with the opening of the next session.

In revising our courses we should settle such questions as (1) what curricula should be offered, (2) how much time should be required of students taking these courses, (3) what should be the content of the courses and the time required in each subject included, (4) should the curricula be published as separate courses in each case or as "core" courses with options, (5) what should be the basis of credit for laboratory work, (6) should the session have two or three terms, and (7) where should differentiation begin? The most earnest, impartial, impersonal, and scientific study possible should be made along this line, regardless of its effect on any particular department of the institution. Efficiency and economy, as regards both time and money, demand this.

Table 1-Relative Rank of the Forty-Eight Land-Grant Colleges with Reference to Students Enrolled, Students to Professors, Library Volumes to Students, Value of Physical Plant, and Support Funds, 1916-17

StateTotal StudentsAgricultural StudentsEngineering StudentsStudents to a Prof.Lib. Vols. to a StudentValue of GroundsValue of BuildingsValue of EquipmentTotal Value of PlantValue of Plt. per StudentSupport from U.S.Support from StateTotal for SupportSup. per Student
New Hampshire2435292530413545434333464046
New Jersey3344393311163015731322716
New Mexico474745212434839481726474511
New York11246181523924117632
North Carolina2222193547312621283445303845
North Dakota42394352132303334183392813
Rhode Island3642283028474544473535444633
South Carolina1814204144282116243848181834
South Dakota353342103538414645398363126
West Virginia2726253415162424252041191914

This is a day of changes. Progress almost invariably means change. The vocational world about us has undergone revolutionary changes within the last two years. We are still in a period of transition. An institution of our type is intimately bound up with and necessarily must be greatly affected by changes in the vocational world. We cannot view with indifference the new demands and the changing relative values of the present era. It would indeed be extraordinary should curricula designed several years ago, however good they may have been at that time, meet present needs. Taking for granted, then, that the desirability of revising our curricula is established, let us proceed to search for a basis on which this revision should be made.

It appears that there are certain preliminary factors entering into the problem, which must be disposed of before such big questions as content and entrance requirements can be considered. First, it seems we might with profit see what other institutions are doing, what courses they are offering, with a view to getting a background of possibilities.

Data from these institutions show that the median number of different course schedules offered is 13. It appears, therefore, that we should hardly exceed that number unless we can give very good reasons for doing so. The larger and richer the college the more courses it is justified in offering.

The number of times a given course is found should be of significance to us. For instance, it seems clear that the tendency now is to offer several programs for specialization in the different branches of agriculture rather than a course in "general agriculture," which is given by only 10 institutions; and that among these programs animal husbandry and agronomy should certainly be included. Again, in view of the comparatively small number of students who have registered at this institution in past years in the course in horticulture it is interesting to note that all but four colleges have such a course, it ranking third in number in the agricultural group of thirteen courses.

In the applied science group it is apparent that applied chemistry is by far the most popular course, with applied biology—frequently as a pre-medical course, coming second.

In engineering the practise is more uniform than in other groups, mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering, in the order named, appearing in practically all cases, and chemical engineering appearing in a large number.

In the selection of curricula to be offered, the second, and by far the most important criterion, is the need of the state in which the institution is located and by which it is most largely supported. A review of the curricula of the various colleges reveals the fact that many of these institutions have studied carefully the needs of their respective states and are offering courses especially adapted to meet these. These states point the way to us. What does Virginia need that her state agricultural and mechanical college shall do?

Courses Offered As Determined By Virginia's Needs

Virginia's agricultural and mechanical college was established primarily and specifically for the education of Virginians in those phases of agriculture and the mechanic arts which Virginia needs for the development of Virginia's resources. Very recently there has been added to the functions of the institution the training of teachers of agriculture and of certain branches related to trades and industries for Virginia's schools.

The first effort of those charged with the responsibility of administering this institution should be to ascertain as far as practicable what Virginia needs to have done by this institution. Having set the objectives of our work we can then, and not until then, formulate intelligently and safely our plans for development. All claims for support from the state must be based on needs to reach clearly defined objectives. Having once determined beyond doubt what the job is, we can settle upon the proper organization for its economic and efficient performance—the number and kind of workers, the materials, the probable cost.

The ultimate objective is to meet Virginia's needs for scientifically trained workers for the development of her agricultural and industrial resources. The immediate objective is to meet the greatest of these needs. Some scale of relative importance must be devised. Above all, it must be kept in mind at all times that our first duty is to Virginia, to train Virginians to work for Virginia, and that this is intended to be along agricultural and industrial lines. If a number of our product go to other states to accept more desirable positions than they can find in our own state, we cannot prevent that nor is it clear that we should want to prevent it, for even in these cases we have performed a valuable service to our state by developing her youth for these desirable positions. If a number of our product shift over into vocations other than agricultural and industrial, we cannot prevent that-nor is it clear that we should want to prevent it, for one of the chief functions of education is to help the individual to discover that type of service which he can best render to society. But, let us always remember, these are by-products of our work, and can never properly determine the content of our courses of study. For instance, some out-of-state corporation may employ large numbers of our men and this may seem to call for including in our courses a certain type of work. If this is an index that the preparation of our men for work in Virginia demands just that type of work, then there can be no question of the necessity for including it; but it might be proper to raise a question as to the propriety of using Virginia's money to supply a type of training which can not be clearly shown to be necessary for Virginia's own development.

The most important question for every department of the college to ask itself is this, namely, what courses should this department offer to meet the needs of Virginia and what is the relative importance of these needs?

The following facts may be of interest in this connection:

Virginia's chief agricultural and mechanical interests ranked according to the number of persons employed are:

  1. Farming:
  2. (1) Field crops;
    (2) Animal husbandry;
    (3) Poultry husbandry;
    (4) Dairy husbandry;
    (5) Fruit-growing;
  3. Structural work;
  4. Lumber and timber products;
  5. Mining (and metallurgy) ;
  6. Shop work (machine, foundry, wood, etc.);
  7. Factory processes of a mechanical type;
  8. Chemical industries;
  9. Printing and publishing;
  10. Marble, stone, brick, tile, glass.

Among the 48 States Virginia ranks:

In rural population,13th;
" value of farm property,20th;
"    "    "   land21st;
"    "    "   buildings,15th;
"    "    "   machinery,23rd;
"    "    "   livestock,23rd;
"    "    "   poultry,11th;
"    "    "   bees,15th;
"    "    "   crops,26th;
"    "    "   small fruits,17th;
"    "    "   orchard trees,13th;
" percentage of total area in

Virginia's industrial rank among the 48 States is:

In number of establishments,12th;
"       "       "   wage-earners16th;
"       "       "   steam engines,18th;
"       "       "   water-wheels,11th;
"       "       "   gas-engines,24th;
"       "       "   electric motors,23rd;
" total horsepower,21st;
" value of factory products,22nd;
" value of mining products,19th;
(Coal, about 58% of all).


Virginia is entering upon an immense plan of road-building.

Virginia needs industrial organizers and managers of men and materials in many and varied lines of development.

Courses Demanded By Students

As an indication of the demand on the part of prospective students for certain lines of work, there are given in the accompanying table statistics of enrolment in this institution for the various courses during the past five years. These should be taken in connection with the foregoing in criticising our present courses as to their drawing power, in determining what, if any, additional courses should be offered, and in deciding what changes should be made in our present schedules. It seems reasonable to raise a question as to any course which has not enrolled during the past five years an average of at least ten students a year.

Table 2-Need for Courses—or Adaptability of Courses to Supposed Needs—as Shown by the Number of Students Taking Them in a Five-Year Period

General Science*161814105815
Agric'l Educa.****414141
Agric'l Eng.04514143
Prep. Vet. Med.120003....
Appl'd Phys.**0101....
Appl'd Chem.15192016148417
Chem. Eng.9934464214028
Met. & Metal110013....
Appl'd Geol.001124....
Appl'd Biol.2117414388
Civil Eng.393143657525351
Mech'l Eng.8481759513246793
Electr. Eng.127135119122176679136
Mining Eng810135145010
2-Year Agric.827863409335671
Year Totals5065355184897552,803....

* Course not offered this year.
† Average omitted where it is less than 1.
‡ Includes rehabilitation men not satisfying entrance requirements.

Time Requirements

In the preface to Prof. C. R. Mann's Study of Engineering Education, Dr, Henry S. Pritchett, President of the Carnegie Foundation, has this to say:

"Fifty years ago, when the engineering schools of the United States were inaugurated, they began their work upon a definite teaching plan and one that had at least pedagogic consistency. The course was four years. The first two were spent mainly in the fundamental sciences-chemistry, physics, mathematics, and mechanics; the last two years mainly in the applications of these sciences to theoretical and practical problems. In the half century that has passed this course of study has been overlaid with a great number of special studies intended to enable the student to deal with the constantly growing applications of science to the industries. While the original teaching plan remains as the basis of the four-year engineering curriculum, the courses given in most schools have been greatly modified in the effort to teach special subjects. As a result the load upon the student has become continually heavier and bears unequally in different places and in different parts of the course. In addition there is a widespread feeling that under this pressure the great body of students fail to gain, on the one hand, a satisfactory grounding in the fundamental sciences; and on the other hand, do not fulfil the expectations of engineers and manufacturers in dealing with the practical problems with which they are confronted on leaving the engineering schools. It is out of this situation that the Committee of the Engineering Societies began its study. * * * "

In the introduction to the same study the Joint Committee on Engineering Education of the National Engineering Societies has this comment to make:

"Another point emphasized, and one of deep importance, is that of the reorganization of curricula, which are commonly acknowledged to be much congested, and which it is stated will continue, 'as long as departments are allowed to act as sole arbiters of the content of the courses'. "

Prof. Mann himself has this to say:

"There is almost unanimous agreement among schools, parents, and practising engineers that at present the engineering curriculum whatever its organization, is congested beyond endurance. It is obviously absurd to require from the student more hours of intense mental labor than would be permitted him by law at the simplest manual labor . . . If there is anyone point on which practising engineers and teachers of engineering are in substantial agreement, it is that at present specialization and subdivision of curricula has gone too far. The congestion that inevitably results is universally recognized to be a fruitful source of confusion to the student and a real cause of superficial work. Attention is distracted from mastery of the subject and encouraged to seek ways and means of ,securing passing grades with minimum effort; so that a rigid and exacting department is likely to get more than its share of time and labor. There is too little time for persistent thinking, too little opportunity to realize the joy of achievement, and too much inducement to join in the scramble for credits."

Dr. Jarvis in his study of American Agricultural Colleges calls attention to a very important phase of this matter when he says:

"The value of the unit of credit for collegiate work may be much affected by the number of hours per week that students are permitted to carry . . . In general the heavier the schedule that students are required or allowed to carry the lower the value of the unit of credit. . . . To establish a standard credit unit it will be necessary also to harmonize the practise of the several institutions with regard to the amount of work that students are permitted to carry. This alone will not insure equality in scholarship, but it should tend toward uniformity in quantitative requirements for graduation. . . . The great variation among institutions in their quantitative requirements for graduation indicates that in some institutions there is either a great waste of time or that in others quality of work is sacrificed for quantity."

The standard requirements for high school graduation are 16 units, which means 20 session hours (i. e., 40 semester hours, or 60 trimester hours, a session; and 160 semester hours or 240 trimester hours for the entire four-year course). In recognition of the fact that the quality of work varies inversely with the number of required hours after a certain number of hours is reached in any term's program, the Virginia State Board of Education prescribes that high schools cannot give credit for more than 18 units of work, which means that 22.5 session hours is the maximum credit allowed (i. e., 45 semester hours, or 67.5 trimester hours, in one year; and 180 semester hours, or 270 trimester hours for the entire four-year course). As much as 15 credit hours is considered to be standard college work for a year, and students are graduated with the bachelor's degree from first-grade colleges with 60 session hours credit (i. e., 120 semester, or 180 trimester hours). As in the case of the quantitative limitation placed on the high schools, so it is customary for standard colleges to place a limitation on the number of hours that may be credited to a student. This maximum is rarely over 20 session hours a year i. e., 160 semester hours, or 240 trimester hours, for the entire four-year course leading to the bachelor's degree). Usually the maximum is not more than 18 session hours a year. The minimum appears to be 120 and the maximum 166 semester hours for the four-year college course, with a median of 140 semester hours. The corresponding figures for the trimester hours are: minimum 180, maximum 249, and median 210. The V. P. I. requires 300—51 more than the highest of all other colleges in the group, and 90 more than the median of these.

The question raised by the last two paragraphs is simply this, namely, can an institution which greatly exceeds not only the median but also the maximum in number of hours required, secure a college-grade of work in its various classes? If so, why is it that accrediting authorities have invariably placed a limit as mentioned above? As an indication of the fact that in such cases the classwork is not considered of college-grade, we have the case of our own institution, the work of which was ranked as secondary (i. e., of high-school grade) by the specialist in higher education of the United States Bureau of Education, a man generally recognized as the highest authority in our country on college evaluation, and presumably an altogether unprejudiced and impartial judge. If this institution is to confer degrees its work must obviously rank as college-grade and not as secondary. Incidentally, a bill is now pending in the Virginia General Assembly prohibiting educational institutions from conferring degrees unless the requirements are up to a standard to be prescribed by the State Board of Education. Is it to be reasonably presumed that the State Board will require less in quality of the standard college than the statement above shows it requires for the high schools?

It appears desirable to define "credit hour" and to establish a minimum and maximum to be allowed any student. The following excerpts from the catalogue of the Oregon Agricultural College are typical of what may be found in numerous colleges, and these requirements impress one as very reasonable and wise:

"A term credit or credit hour is presumed to represent three hours of the student's time each week for one term. This time may be assigned to work in classroom, laboratory, or outside preparation.

Normal work is work leading to 16-1/2 credits a term. No regular student is permitted to register for work leading to more than 18-1/2 credits in any term without special permission from his dean, and not more than 20-1/2 credits a term may be recorded for any student."

Purdue University, which still has the third highest time requirement, has within the last three years reduced its requirement about 17%. It still seems entirely too high but the reasons set forth for the reduction already effected, and which may prompt still further reduction in future, are of significance, hence the following quotation from the Purdue catalogue:

"The faculty has recently made radical changes in the curricula of the university . . . to reduce the number of subjects in the curriculum of hours spent in class rooms, and of semester hours required for graduation, By these changes it is sought to secure to the student more time for self direction, reading, etc., and also to intensify the work during class hours, and at the same time simplify the program of studies. In all of this there is no intention of lowering the standards of scholarship heretofore required of students of Perdue University. The work is quite as exacting as ever and requires greater self control and self direction on the part of the student. Of equal importance is it that there will now be better opportunity for recreation and more free time. It is believed that the change will be to the great advantage of all earnest students. The faculty, in bringing it about, have confidence that the change will favorably react upon the quality of university work and the capacity and strength of its graduates."

Dr. Mann, in the study to which reference has been made, says:

" . . . the number of required credit hours per week should be less than 18—preferably 16. This recommendation is not intended to decrease the number of hours of work done per week by the students, but to make it possible for them to do all of their work more thoroly. It is, of course, obvious that such a reduction of required credit hours cannot be satisfactorily made without extensive changes in the content of the courses, for it would be disastrous to leave the distribution of time among the departments as it is and merely try to organize them on a sixteen-hour-a-week basis instead of on a twenty or twenty-four hour basis. In the second place, the few experiments that have been made on the subject indicate that college students do their best work when the number of different subjects studied at a given time is not greater than five. In constructing a curriculum, therefore, it is desirable to limit the number of simultaneous courses to four or five at the outside."

From whatever angle one views the arrangement of curricula he must see that this question of time requirements is fundamental. If our time requirements are about 43% greater than the "average" of the forty-eight colleges in our group, and about 20% greater than the next highest in the group, is it not up to us to show why we are right and the other forty-seven colleges are wrong? If our work is to be rated as high as theirs can we continue to require so much more classroom time? Do we wish to have our work ranked by our own State Board of Education and by others as high school and not as college work?

The situation varies somewhat with the different courses, but certainly none of the courses is anything like what it should be to conform to current practise among. land-grant colleges (and other standard colleges, too, for that matter). To get our courses down to reasonably near the average time requirement we must eliminate from our agricultural courses from 90 to 102 credit hours (i. e., trimester hours) in the four years; and from our engineering courses from 66 to 87 credit hours in the four years. Also, to follow current practise, we must not allow extra work amounting to more than 30 credit hours in the four years in addition to the 210 required hours.

Just one more quotation as to this:

"Since the amount of work required for graduation depends more upon the institution's standard of proficiency than upon the number of hours required in attendance at class, figures representing total requirements have limited significance. For example, students who have completed the 228 semester hours required by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute may not be any better equipped than those who graduated from the University of Missouri, with its minimum requirement of 124 semester hours." (Quoted from Jarvis's study.)

V. P. I. is mentioned several times by Jarvis and also by Mann as the institution requiring the maximum number of hours—and, by implication, the lowest standard of work! Can we afford such notoriety?

Content Of Courses

Presuming that the fundamental questions discussed in the preceding pages have been settled, the next step in the revision of our courses should probably be a consideration of their content.

Curricula Objectives And Difficulties

Curricula difficulties in agricultural and mechanical colleges are very similar in origin to such difficulties in other types of education. The history of education in general shows that, like civilization in general, the progressive development of educational organization, content, methods, and aims, has been constantly impeded by the inertia of tradition. This inertia has existed largely within the teaching profession itself. Most innovations in educational content have come because of pressure from without the school which the school men have been unable to resist. Sometimes the outside world, chafing beyond endurance at the slow processes of evolution, has resorted to revolutionary measures, and a Rousseau has torn away the rubbish of tradition and cleared the path for a Pestalozzi otherwise we should not now be considering industrial education at all.

The development of the land-grant colleges has been marked from the beginning by continuous struggle against the persisting influence of traditional educational content. At the time of their establishment the traditional classical' college was firmly entrenched. It was the only institution recognized as giving education of college grade. It was the chief source of supply for instructors for the proposed new type of college. Classically trained professors entering the faculties of the new institutions naturally brought over with them their classical background, and the curricula they formulated were naturally given a classical setting. There was, however, no doubt in the mind of the author of the act establishing the colleges of agriculture and the mechanic arts, as to what the function of these institutions should be. Senator Morrill's pronouncement was clear when he urged that, by the act of 1862:

"It was clearly intended that these national colleges should place scientific or practical studies foremost as the leading object, and whatever else might be added, that these were in no case to lag in the rear. . . . Knowledge not for use may do for useless philosophers of whom the United States has, perhaps, too little appreciation, and postpones to a more convenient season; but here education embracing the largest numbers must have such scope as to practically fit the owner for his destined vocation. Its backbone will be made up with what will be most needed."

There were, however, many difficulties in the way, and we find that in 1884 the United States Commissioner of Education wrote:

"The instruction which these schools offer is at present too theoretical and follows too closely the model of the classical college. So far as science is concerned, the great difficulty is the want of material equipment. The training in agriculture and the mechanic arts languishes from various causes. Competent men are not easily found to organize and conduct these departments, and in many States the rural population has little faith in the utility of training, especially the agricultural training: so that the provision which the colleges are able to make for this branch is not properly appreciated. . . . In every case it will be found that the colleges have had to create the sentiment that now operates for their support and progress."

In his report for 1890-91, the Commissioner again raises this point and confirms a view which has become somewhat widespread, that the agricultural and mechanical colleges were reaching out somewhat farther than the law allowed. He says:

"It is stated that the 'leading object' of these institutions shall be to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts; but even the most cursory examination of the colleges thus aided will show that in a large majority of cases these branches have not been made the 'leading objects', altho of late years they have been more and more demanding greater recognition, as at least coordinate departments of the several institutions."

Again, in 1893-94, the Commissioner refers to the requirement of the law of August 30, 1890, that

"The appropriation must be applied only to instruction in agriculture, the mechanic arts, the English language and various branches of mathematical, physical, natural and economic science, with special reference to their applications in the industries of life and to the facilities for such instruction. Notwithstanding the plain language above quoted, this Bureau has been compelled during the year to order the refunding of sums of money paid out of what is properly known as the 'Morrill fund' for the salaries of treasurer, secretary, and professors of ancient and modern languages."

As regards engineering education we are told that

. . . from the beginning the engineering schools have had a clear conception of their functions. They themselves understood that their ultimate aim was increased industrial production, and that their special contribution to this end was systematic instruction in applied science. In addition they believed that if this instruction were given with the proper spirit, engineering would become a learned profession and scientific research a recognized necessity." 1

In practical operation, however, this ideal has not always been reached, and there is much room for improvement. Dr. Pritchett says we must approach the problem of the improvement of our engineering courses "not only from the standpoint of the teacher, but also from that of the practising engineer and of the employer."1 The Joint Committee on Engineering Education of the National Engineering Societies says, "There probably never was a time when the minds of teachers were so intently alive and receptive to rapid changes, as at the present moment."1 It suggests that teachers should ask themselves whether they are teaching so as to produce results in students in the order of value specified by the engineering profession.

In preceding pages attention has been called to the tendency to overcrowd curricula. An effective remedy for this is very much desired. In the following paragraphs Dr. Mann1 explains why such difficulties have usually arisen, and hints at ways in which they may be successfully overcome:

"Thus far neither more time nor fewer subjects have as a matter of fact cured congestion. For the amount to be learned in every field is so vast and is increasing so rapidly that whenever a professor gets more time for instruction, he usually tries to cover more ground; and this tendency is supported by many of the younger alumni, who keep suggesting the addition of this, that or the other bit of information that was not given them in college, but would have been useful to them on their first jobs if it had been included in the curriculum. This pressure to keep up to date, combined with the natural reluctance of every teacher to abandon material he has once worked up for presentation to the class, is fairly certain to produce congestion even after it has been temporarily relieved. The real causes of congestion, however, with its well-known symptoms of mental confusion, superficiality, and scurry for credit, lie deeper. Their roots penetrate to the methods by which curricula are constructed and the educational conceptions on which they are based … The first engineering schools were founded by colleges, their professors were college-trained men, and their curricula were devised by college faculties; professors also gave practically all the instruction with very little assistance from practitioners. (Contrast the case of schools of law, medicine, and theology, where the instruction is given in large part by practising lawyers, physicians, and clergymen.) For this reason the first technical schools had a serious struggle to prove that engineers could be trained in schools."

"Under present conditions the members of the various departments in engineering schools are selected in the main because of their abilities as specialists in their respective fields. Since every competent specialist is always an enthusiast over his specialty, there is no limit to the number of hours he would like to fill or the amount of information he would like to impart to the students, especially when the work is conducted by the lecture method. Therefore congestion of the curriculum is inevitable so long as each department remains the sole arbiter of the content of its courses, and there is no coordination among departments with respect to the amount and the nature of the subject-matter in courses, and no scrutiny of the results of each department's work by some agency outside the department. The question of congestion is evidently not merely a question of the time schedule, but leads at once to such specific departmental questions as: What is the minimum mathematical equipment essential to every engineer, no matter what his special line may be? What fundamental principles of mechanics must be mastered by every engineer? In developing a mastery of these principles of mechanics, what coordination of work among the departments of mathematics, physics, mechanics, and engineering is most effective? Until such interdepartmental investigations and experiments are the rule everywhere, instead of the exception, congestion is likely to persist and grow more and more disastrous. …To be widely effective, experiments must be checked by tests that are as free as possible from the personal equation and the errors of subjective judgment on the part of the experimenter. "

A difficulty of ancient origin still persists even in this day to hinder the formulation of curricula of maximum service. This arises out of the unwillingness of some educational workers to revise their conceptions of culture to conform to contemporary ideals. Most of us have recognized the necessity for this response to developing civilization. Our ideas of what constitutes "culture" and a "liberal education" now are very different from the conceptions of former decades. Educational content is no longer considered to be cultural in proportion to its remoteness from practical bearing, but, on the other hand, in proportion to its direct relationship to contemporary life. By a liberal education is now meant that type of education which contains the best culture material of the life for which it is designed to prepare. The engineer or scientist who is so equipped with a knowledge of the fundamental sciences underlying his specialty that he is a master of them, is liberally educated. There is no subject or group of subject.s which may be interjected into a curriculum and by a mysterious alchemy transform it into a means of culture. The problem is not to inoculate our student with some academic serum which presumably will cause the blood of culture to flow thru his arteries, but rather to see that he is fed with a balanced ration of well-prepared articles of nourishment which must furnish the basis of sustenance thruout his career. No subject has a valid claim to a place in the curriculum merely because of some imagined and traditional talismanic power to produce culture.

This does not mean, of course, advocacy of a narrow, intensely specialized curriculum, with nothing included but strictly technical work. The quarrel is with the classicist rather than with the "humanist." We may accept without fear of inconsistency the statement that:

"There is a widespread agreement among professional engineers that the college curriculum should aim to give a broad and sound training in engineering science, rather than a highly specialized training in some narrow line; that considerable attention should be paid to humanistic studies like English, economics, sociology, and history, not merely because of their practical value to the engineer, but also because of their broad human values; and that the young graduate should have some conception of business management and of the most intelligent methods of organizing and controlling men." 1

Let it be noted that this program is not linguistic but social. It has to do with the acts and motives of men and with the concepts and ideals of everyday relationships rather than with forms of expression. "Humanistic" studies is a better chosen term than "classical" studies or "academic" studies would be.

As to educational aims, Jarvis remarks that:

"There is a tendency among certain institutions during recent years to emphasize the economic and sociological phases of the training, while others place the emphasis upon technical efficiency. The danger lies in a failure to adapt college curricula to the everchanging economic conditions." 2

Current Movements For Improvement

In commenting in his last report (1918-19) on recent developments in agricultural education, the United States Commissioner of Education says:

"The most conspicuous movement is toward requiring an increased proportion of the student's time in the social sciences, particularly economics and sociology. A number of colleges have added newly devised courses which are aimed to develop a deeper spirit of Americanism and more intelligent leadership. An example of the trend in this direction is the course in 'relationships' offered by the Kansas State Agricultural College. Such a course is regarded as a suitable sequence to a high-school course in civics, and embraces a wide range of instruction, including relationships between producer, distributor, and consumer; responsibilities of the individual to the community, the State, and the Nation; and the economics of conservation of natural resources."

In speaking of the effect upon humanistic training of the war, and the reorganization of such training in the "war issues" courses, the Commissioner says:

"The course on the issues of the war combined history, economics, government, literature, and philosophy. It paid no attention to the artificial divisions which have separated these subjects in the past. It aimed rather to bring about a fusion of the essential elements of these and other subjects. The design was to furnish the student soldier with facts, criteria, and inspiration which would enable him to understand his world and to relate his conduct to the major issues of his life. Incidentally the committee's action resulted in breaking down temporarily the illogical barriers between departments which have so long been traditional in academic organization."

Commenting on the permanent values of the "war issues" course, Dean Woodbridge, of Columbia, says:

"In the past education was liberalized by means of the classical tradition. It afforded for educated men a common background of ideas and commonly understood standards of judgment. For the present that tradition no longer suffices. If education is to be liberated again, if our youth are to be freed from the confusion of ideas and standards, no other means looks so attractive as a common knowledge of what the present world of human affairs really is. The war has revealed that world with the impelling clearness which tragedy alone seems able to attain."

The United States Commissioner of Education in his last report also calls special attention to the program of better business training for engineers that has developed recently. This movement began with a conference in St. Louis last February and culminated in a national conference at Washington last June, attended by about 200 representatives of educational institutions, of government and business, and of the leading engineering societies. A committee on this subject, appointed by the Commissioner of Education, carefully considered the increasing need of American business for men trained in engineering and business, and made recommendations of subjects of study for use in higher institutions. The University of Cincinnati and the Pennsylvania State College are mentioned as two institutions which have carried out this idea in quite different forms. The work includes courses in factory organization, cost accounting, employment, and scientific management.

In discussing agricultural education Commissioner Claxton says:

“Another movement which has been slowly developing for some time shows signs of making rapid progress as a result of war experiences. The movement aims to broaden the sphere of the agricultural college by the inclusion of all matters relating to the economic use of food and clothing. The trend is emphasized by a recommendation contained in the report of the committee on college organization and policy of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, which reads: ‘Your committee believes that the time has come for our agricultural colleges to plan to include in their programs of research, of teaching, and of extension, the entire range of food needs and resources, of food production, of food distribution, of food manufacture and conservation, as well as the household use of food; and we include all soil-grown products in the province of our activities.’ ”

Still another excerpt from the Commissioner's report is illuminating:

"Another hopeful sign in the colleges of agriculture is a generous disposition to provide for a closer articulation with the secondary vocational schools of agriculture. The greatest advance in this direction is the attempt on the part of a few institutions to offer in each of the technical departments a basic course which in scope approximates a secondary school course in the corresponding subject. The availability of such courses makes it possible for students who have not had the work in high school to carry it in college, and for those who have had the work in high school to start with more advanced work and without unnecessary repetition."

Is there a suggestion here for a partial solution of our problem of fitting our work on to the rapidly developing agricultural courses in Virginia high schools, and also of our problem of the "two-year course" in its relation to the regular four-year course?

Elimination Of Students As Related To Content

Serious consideration should be given to the relation of the kind of subject-matter and its arrangement in the course to the dropping out of students. Statistics of elimination for the first half of the current college year show that we have lost in the first half-session 12.2% of our total enrolment (755), and it may be said that at least 37% of these losses were due to causes related quite directly to curricula. This loss may or may not be greater than at similar institutions—no data are available as to this—and it may or may not show that our curricula are at fault; but it is certainly serious enough to prompt us to search earnestly for means whereby these losses may be checked.

As regards the arrangement of subject-matter in the four years of the course, it is significant to note that about two-thirds of the students who drop out are included in the first-year group, and only about one-seventh are above the sophomore year. It is true that a large number of the lost freshmen are in the two-year course in agriculture, about one-third of these students dropping out; but eliminating this group entirely from consideration we find 14% of our freshmen giving up their work in their first half-year.

There is no doubt a similar situation at other colleges of agriculture and engineering, as the following paragraphs indicate. Concerning the arrangement of subject-matter, Dr. Mann1 has this to say:

"The 1849 curriculum at Rensselear imported a French style that has been followed implicitly ever since. The conception underlying this and all later curricula is that engineering is applied science, and therefore to teach engineering it is necessary first to teach science and then to apply it. In conformity to this conception the first two years of college work are almost invariably devoted wholly to learning the fundamental principles of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Only when the student has passed a satisfactory examination on these fundamental principles and their various nontechnical applications is he permitted to work on engineering projects. Some of the peculiar effects that result from this universal habit of teaching first the theory, then the practise, are now beginning to attract attention. Instructors who are close to freshmen and sophomores tell how bewildered and discouraged the underclassmen often are because, having come to college to study, as they supposed, the dynamic agencies for doing the world's work, they find themselves merely continuing their elementary and high school drudgery with books and abstract symbols. Doubtless some of the freshman elimination is due to this discouragement, and it has been suggested that the drop in student grades in the sophomore year may be attributed mainly to this cause. The question has also been raised whether failure to make good in these preliminary studies as taught, or to succeed in the tests as given, is really conclusive evidence of lack of engineering ability.

"Apart from this work in surveying, there is as a rule very little that makes the freshmen and sophomores vividly aware of the fact that they are studying engineering. This has been recognized as a defect by some schools, which have sought to remedy it by 'orientation' lectures and talks by professional men describing the nature of real engineering work in the field. Still there are cases on record where freshmen in engineering have been 'weeded out' entirely because of deficiencies in English and German.

"Several of the schools visited have found that the introduction of 'orientation' courses and talks by practising engineers on the real experiences of the engineer's life are effective means of increasing the interest and strengthening the morale of the freshmen. A moving picture of an engineering enterprise in action is not without results. These realistic portrayals of the technique of practise lend reality to the book work and arouse the professional ambition of the hearers. The actual participation in technical work under the cooperative plan at Cincinnati, Akron, and Lafayette, the summer vacation work, in industrial plants, and the summer surveying camps, all tend in the same direction."

As far back as twenty years ago all students in their first year in our own agricultural college were required to take "First Agriculture," which consisted of instruction in "general farm management, including culture and care of farm crops, agricultural implements, fences, buildings, etc., drainage and irrigation." A very comprehensive outlay for a class meeting two hours a week thru one session, yet furnishing surely an introduction to the study of agriculture, and of help in making a freshman feel that he had really come to an agricultural college to study agriculture and not merely to continue his same old high school program of mathematics and languages. Likewise every engineering student in his first year was required to take "Mechanical Technology," which an ancient catalog informs us was "a study of the principles of machines, tools, and steam engine." This course may have been superficial and of doubtful value in many respects, yet it is certainly an indication of a desire to introduce the new student to engineering affairs and develop in him at least a limited technical vocabulary. With the possible exception of drawing and shop work, what is there in our present freshman engineering program to make the student feel that he is beginning an engineering career and not merely continuing the academic work of the high school, relief from which he has probably sought in choosing a technical college rather than a classical college for continuing his education?

Dr. Jarvis1 says in regard to the agricultural colleges:

"There is a growing belief that more technical work should be given early in the curriculum. . . . The uneven distribution in the curriculum of the heavy science courses suggests that in making up schedules some institutions apparently give more attention to class room and laboratory facilities and to the convenience of instructors than to a careful balancing of the student's work."

Dr. Mann2 says:

"At present engineering projects are being used more and more as problems and exercises in the regular class work of the last two years. In a few cases real engineering problems are freely used with freshmen and sophomores. These tendencies to encourage a spirit of investigation among the younger students and to give even freshmen opportunities for creative work are becoming more marked each year.

"Practical engineering work is essential for the freshman not only because it appeals to his professional ambition, arouses his enthusiasm, and gives him training in practise, but also because it helps him to master the theoretical work more fully and more quickly. Every one knows that at present the engineering professors are seriously handicapped in their work with juniors and seniors because the students are notoriously unable to make professional use of the principles of physics, of mathematics, and of mechanics with assurance and accuracy. One of the most common complaints of employers is that even college graduates have serious difficulty in applying theory to practice . . . this weakness may be overcome by suitable coordination of theory and practise during the learning process. Hence to the . . . requirements of effective curricula must be added the need for interrelation between the concrete and the abstract thruout the entire college course."

Subjects Of Study And Time Assignments

A college should not hesitate to revise its curricula if there appears to be a need for doing so, and there usually is a need every few years. Progressive institutions frequently revise their courses. Colleges are established and maintained to give students that which they need to make them good members of society; and not to provide more or less comfortable berths for instructors. Progress means change. An institution supported by the public must be responsive to the needs of the public which it serves. These needs are constantly changing absolutely and relatively. For the efficient college, tomorrow is never like today.

The practical problem of selecting content is not easy of solution. Attention has been called already to some of the difficulties. The whole problem is very largely one of relative value. Dr. Mann1 in the following statement, indicates a method of solution. It is seen, however, that this is no very easy method.

"The current method of framing curricula by first distributing the student's time among the various subjects by faculty action and then allowing each department to fill in its quota as it sees fit, leads to the impossible conditions discussed. . . . The way out lies in the direction of reversing the process; that is, first determining by cooperative faculty investigation what equipment in each subject is essential to every engineer, and then requiring each department to discover by experiment how much time is necessary to give adequate control of that essential equipment to the promising students. . . . What is the minimum equipment essential to every engineer, no matter what specialty he may eventually choose? The answers to this question must be stated in terms of ability to accomplish rather than in the customary terms of topics to recite."

In our own case it appears that need for early revision is so urgent that we are not able to wait for relief thru a long period of investigation and experimentation. Presuming that other colleges in our group have done something of this sort and that the tendency shown by their distribution of time to the various subjects represents fairly well the results of their experience, it seems that it would be helpful to us to compare our courses, present and proposed, with those of other land-grant colleges. Any change that we might make on the basis of what is done at other colleges would of course be made with the understanding that they are subject to try-out here and may be completely revised as a result. If, then, we take the lessons taught by a study of courses in our sister colleges as a basis for revision, we should have a fair start which could be followed by investigation as suggested by Dr. Mann.

In looking over catalogs one must be impressed with the diversity of distribution in the curricula of the various institutions. It may certainly be said that there is no "standard" practise. Current practise in engineering curricula appears to be more nearly uniform than in agricultural curricula, yet there are subjects which appear only a very few times and in even so standard a subject as mathematics there is the wide range of from 18 to 48 hours. Only a few subjects of the agricultural curricula are required in all cases.

It should be said that the "average" practise is not necessarily the best practise for every individual college. Local considerations must always have greater weight. Yet despite this obvious limitation, let it be claimed that where the requirement of any institution varies very decidedly from the average requirement there is probably enough significance in it to warrant a question as to the reason for the great difference. For example: V. P. I. requires 24 trimester hours in military in all curricula, while the average is less than one-third of this requirement, and the maximum next to ours is only 13; V. P. I. requires at present 27 trimester hours in foreign languages in all curricula, while the average is only 14 hours for the colleges requiring it, and only four colleges require it at all in agriculture and only 12 require it in engineering courses. V. P. I. requires 27 hours in English as compared with an average of 15; 35 hours in chemistry (in animal husbandry) as compared with all average of 22; 23 in veterinary science as compared with an average of 11, etc.

In drawing and shopwork V. P. I. requires twice as many hours as the average elsewhere in agricultural curricula; and in engineering curricula the time devoted to graphics and mechanism is much more than double the average. On the other hand only one-third of the average time is required in economics and social science. Such decided differences as these should at least prompt the question: Why? Perhaps we are right, but if we vary greatly from the average the burden of proof is on us.

A study of the curricula indicates to a considerable extent what subjects may be considered indispensable in a particular field, and what subjects are less essential but desirable, and in what relative degree. If we do not include a subject which a majority of our sister colleges include, or if we include a subject which a majority of our sister colleges do not include, we should ask ourselves why we do or do not?

According to Jarvis1, who studied curricula in agronomy, out of forty-eight colleges in the group it would be possible to graduate in agriculture in the following numbers without any instruction whatever in the subject named:

Agricultural Botany and Plant Pathology18
Agricultural Chemistry18
Organic Chemistry16
Qualitative Analysis23
Quantitative Analysis30
Foreign Language30
Veterinary Science31

If there be an "hierarchy" of subjects among the requirements for the B.S. degree in agriculture, the dozen named above are hardly members of it.

In what has gone before much has been said about the work of the freshman year. This particular year appears to need revision more than any other, in both agriculture and engineering. In the former, two-thirds of the colleges require no drawing, but V. P. I. requires twice as much as the average of those that require it; and almost the same is true of shopwork, while mathematics is not far different. On the other hand, our old course includes no agriculture and our proposed course only 6 hours as compared with an average of 13 hours. In engineering three-fourths of the colleges require no physics in the first year, but we require considerably more than the average of those that do require it. The engineering first year is far closer to the average than the agricultural first year. In both agricultural and engineering curricula we require 9 hours of foreign languages, while it is very rare to find any other college in the group requiring any at all. A number of colleges offer introductory or orientation courses, a comparatively recent innovation.

Other Questions Of Organization

Data concerning the other questions arising in the organization of instruction may be summarized thus:

1. As to the -practise among institutions in the publication of their curricula, as separate courses completely outlined in each case for all four years, or as optional groups in one or more years—an inspection of the catalogs shows that the option plan apparently is the favorite in the group of agricultural courses, while the separate course plan seems to be more popular for the engineering group.

2. As to the basis of crediting labora tory hours—the present tendency seems to be to credit on a 1:3 basis, meaning that one credit hour is taken as equivalent to one hour of lecture or recitation with two hours of preparation, or three hours of laboratory work without preparation outside, or some combination of kinds of work making a total of three hours work for the student for each credit hour.

3. As to whether the institution is organized on the semester or trimester system—the indication is that while a majority of the land-grant colleges are still using the semester system the tendency is to change to the trimester plan.

4. As to whether the work for one or more years is the same for all the courses in the group—it appears that usually the freshman year is the same for all courses in a group, and where this is not so the differentiation in the first year is found more frequently in the engineering courses than in the agricultural courses; and further that a majority of the colleges have the same sophomore year for all their agricultural courses, whereas a much smaller number have this for engineering courses, and in both groups of courses differentiation is nearly always clearly marked at the beginning of the junior year.

In these studies only four-year curricula are included. The large number and great variety of one-, two-, and three-year and shorter courses are not here considered, altho worthy of careful study.

Courses under the direction of the Federal Board for Vocational Education (Smith-Hughes) for the training of teachers in "trades and industries" are appearing in many land-grant colleges; but as this field of work is not yet fully developed, or as well developed as agricultural teacher training, it has been omitted from these studies.

Questions Concerning Courses In General

In criticising any course, here are some pertinent questions to ask:

(1) What part of this course is here because students actually need it; and what part is included chiefly because instructors wish to teach it?

(2) Is the length of a particular portion of the curriculum determined by the subject-matter essential to that particular portion or by the length of the term?

(3) Have minimum essentials for each portion been listed?

(4) In what ways is it especially fitted to its students?

(5) In what ways does it use students' experience and build up on this?

(6) In what ways is it fitted to the needs of Virginia?

(7) What portions of it are taken by students chiefly because they are compulsory, and what portions would be chosen if elective?

(8) Are any portions of the course included for no other assigned-reason than that they are part of the traditional learning?

(9) To what extent is pressure to retain or to expand compulsory portions of the course due to faculty members now teaching the same?

(10) Is the time distribution to the various subjects strictly in accordance with the understood relative values of these subjects or with the relative aggressiveness of the instructors concerned?

A Few Suggestions For Revising Our Courses

1. In the arrangement of course outlines it is very desirable from the administrative standpoint that any class shall come in the same all programs in which it is included. For example, it is very difficult to administer a program which calls in its senior year for a class which in all other programs is listed in the junior year.

2. In the same way, and even more important, all classes must carry the same time requirements and the same credit value in every course outline in which they are included. For example, a class in mathematics could not properly be listed as 5 hours in one course and 3 hours in another. If it is essential to differentiate the work in such cases separate sections should be formed and designated by different titles and catalog numbers.

3. Serious thought should be given to the introduction of an "orientation" course in the first term of the first year for every student. The purpose of such a course would be to serve as an introduction to the work of a technical college; to help bridge the gap between the high school and the college; to aid the student in adjusting himself to college life by telling him just what the college stands for, by pointing out to him best methods of study, ways to use the library, how to take notes, and similar details; and to offer guidance as to the selection of a college course and a future professional career. Such a course might consist of one or more lectures given by each of a number of members of the faculty and also by outsiders representing the various scientific and industrial fields. Incidentally it would serve to impress upon the student at his very entrance to the institution the fact that he has entered upon technical training and is not merely continuing his same familiar high school subjects; and it should also serve to develop in the student desirable attitudes toward this institution, its authorities, its traditions, its various activities of both a required and collateral type, and toward the profession to which he is looking forward. The course might cover from one to three class hours per week, requiring correspondingly from two to no hours of preparation therefor, and carrying a credit of one hour or less for one term or more.

4. This college is at present hardly large enough and certainly not rich enough to justify the offering of many electives or options outside of the really necessary subjects in the several curricula. It seems best, therefore, to adhere rather closely to groups of required subjects as in the past. Again, subjects which will probably be taken by only a few students should be avoided as far as possible, unless of course they are absolutely essential to a particular curriculum.

5. Earnest consideration is asked as to the advisability of allowing more time to economic and social science, and of expanding our work along this line so as to include for agricultural students courses in rural sociology, and for engineering students courses in business organization, and in industrial management. The human side of all vocational endeavor is of paramount importance, particularly in the present day of social unrest. Many of our students enter the business and administrative phases of both agricultural and industrial operations, and it is certainly important that they shall have a fairly adequate knowledge of the underlying principles of economic and efficient organization and management of labor as well as of processes, together with some ability to evaluate human character and attitudes.

6. If a thesis is to be required for the bachelor's degree, this should be worth while, and if it is to be worth while some time must be allowed for it. It is suggested that three credit hours be allowed for one term in the senior year, which would cover nine hours of work per week on the thesis, including conferences with professors, experiments, observations, tests, reading, arrangement of notes, etc. It seems advisable that this be put in the second term rather than in the third term, in order that the thesis may be in the hands of the head of the department concerned not later than April 1st before graduation.

7. In view of the additional amount of work imposed on our junior and senior students by reason of the large amount of theoretical military instruction in connection with the R. O. T. C., it is suggested that it may be advisable to readjust the credits allowed for military in these years, and perhaps also in the sophomore and freshman years if the theoretical instruction is to be given in these lower classes to a greater extent than formerly. If it seems probable that this military work in addition to the regularly required subjects will operate to lower the quality of the student's work, it may be well for us to follow the example of certain other institutions and make the R. O. T. C. work elective with other work of equivalent time value. Under such an arrangement the drills could be required of all students but the option could be allowed of taking either the R. O. T. C. or some academic, agricultural, or engineering subject. Enrolment in the R. O. T, C. is voluntary on the part of the student, and doubtless it would be well .to make some distinction in time requirement between the student who volunteers to take the R. O. T. C. work and the student who does not. V. P. I. assigns far more class hours to military than any other institution in its group assigns to military and physical training combined. This may be altogether advisable, but if, so, it seems that the other required work should be reduced accordingly, in order to prevent overcrowding and lowering the quality of the work done by the student.

Requirements For Admission

Intimately related to the organization of instruction, and particularly to' content of college curricula, is the equipment of the student at entrance. As Dr. Jarvis1 says, "the requirements for the eight-year period, represented by the high school and collegiate courses, should be considered as a unit." What constitutes adequate training for the bachelor's degree may be determined only by articulating the high school course and the college course. Certain elements recognized as essential may be better provided in the secondary school period while certain other elements may be better provided in the college period; and the most important thing is to see that they are included in due proportion in one or the other, or in the two taken together.

In the land-grant college group:

1. All colleges are co-educational except Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—six Southern colleges being for men only.

2. Out of the forty-eight colleges we find minimum age requirements specified by thirty, as follows: 2 require 14 years; 2 require 15 years; and 26 require 16 years.

3. In each institution applicants are admitted by either examination or certificate, and it appears that larger proportions of students are being admitted each year by certificate, because of the rapidly developing high schools.

4. All of the institutions admit special or unclassified students; 25 require such applicants to be at least 20 years of age; 9 require them to be at least 18 years of age; and the remainder specify no particular age. For admission to short courses the same age requirement holds usually as for regular freshmen, but sometimes it is slightly higher.

5. In none of the institutions does it appear to be rigidly required that the applicant shall have had occupational experience, altho in 18 colleges farm experience in varying amounts is required before graduation in agricultural courses.

6. There has been in the last six years a decided, tendency to raise the number of units required, but at the same time to reduce the number of subjects prescribed, and to increase the number of subjects for which entrance credit may be granted. The colleges are fast coming to a 15-unit total requirement, distributed over not more than four subjects—practically never more than five subjects at present.

7. Of the 48 colleges at present: 1 requires 11 units; 1 requires 12 units; 8 require 14 units; 1 requires 14-1/2 units; 36 require 10 units; and 1 claims it requires 16 units.

8. It is very common practise to admit students conditionally, in fact only two or three of the colleges make definite statements that this will not be done. Of the 48 colleges: 1 allows 1/2 unit; 13 allow 1 unit; 1 allows 1-1/2 units; 20 allow 2 units; and the remainder either allow none or do not state definitely what their practise is—in most cases they allow conditions. Usually conditions must be made good in the first year. Jarvis1 states that it is a common practise in many institutions to accept students who are deficient in preparation into their two-year or three-year (secondary) curricula where an opportunity is offered for carrying certain courses that may be accepted for entrance. There is one fact entering into the situation that should not be overlooked. It may be presumed that it is the weaker student who enters with conditions, therefore he is the very one who should not attempt to carry extra work along with the regular college requirements. As Jarvis1 very pertinently remarks:

"When it is understood that in most institutions the minimum requirement for graduation is fixed at a point approximating the maximum amount of work that the normal student can complete within the given time of four years, it is obvious that a student entering with a handicap of two or three units, equal to 12 to 18 semester hours, is likely to remain deficient even at graduation. . . Even tho they may have passed all required examinations, conditioned students, on account of being overworked, are not likely to be as well prepared in collegiate subjects as those who enter college without such a handicap. If in some institutions this is not true, it is obvious that the minimum requirement for graduation is too low and that normal students are not making the best use of their time. It is well known, of course, that there is a great difference in students with regard to the amount of work which may be carried successfully, but the exceptionally capable students are not usually found among those who enter with conditions."

9. As to the distribution of the required units among the various subjects of the high school course, it should be noted that only five different subjects are found, the same for agriculture and engineering. There is little difference between the requirements for entrance to agricultural curricula and those for entrance to engineering curricula, except in mathematics. Because the engineering frequently calls for more mathematics the number of electives is correspondingly reduced in this group.

10. All the colleges require English for admission to all curricula leading to a degree, almost always three units. All require mathematics for admission to engineering curricula, and all but three for agricultural; the most popular requirement being three units for the former and two units for the latter. In most cases the mathematics requirement is one and one-half units of algebra and one unit of geometry. About two-thirds of the colleges require history or social science, amounting usually to one unit and consisting chiefly of American history and civics. The tendency now seems to be to emphasize these subjects more and more, doubtless as an outgrowth of the recent war. More than one-half of the institutions require some preparation in science, which is frequently one unit in physics. Seventeen colleges require preparation in one or more foreign languages for admission to engineering curricula and fourteen require it for agricultural curricula. Ordinarily this amounts to two units, which must be in one language. To quote Jarvis1, referring to agricultural curricula:

"It is interesting to note that 23 of the colleges do not require foreign language either for admission or graduation. In the year 1912-13 twenty of the colleges required this subject for admission, which shows that even tho many institutions have raised their entrance requirement, fewer institutions require foreign language now than five years ago."

11. The range of electives allowed for entrance to agricultural courses is from 2-1/2 to 12 units and the median number is 7 units; while for engineering curricula the range is from 2-1/2 to 10 units and the median number is 7 units. The tendency in the last few years to show greater liberality in the distribution of entrance units is very striking, particularly as regards credits for vocational subjects. In a number of cases the catalogs state that any satisfactorily completed high school subject may be offered for admission. The list of subjects for which most colleges allow entrance credits, in varying amounts, is very long, and it is a new and uncommon subject indeed for which entrance credit may not be obtained in some amount.

12. Advanced standing is usually allowed in only two ways, namely, by examination and by transfer of credits from an approved institution of equivalent grade. Advanced standing is rarely granted for excess secondary school work, certainly only by examination in any case. In every case, so far as known, a student is required to complete at least one full year of work in the institution which grants him a degree.

There are many arguments for a uniform requirement, particularly as to total number of units required for entrance. Yet there are states which doubtless are compelled by local conditions to accept less than the majority of colleges require. With the great development that has taken place in secondary education in Virginia, shall we not ask ourselves the question whether we are not justified in raising our entrance requirements from 14 to 15 units, thus getting into line with the great majority of our sister institutions? At any rate it seems that we should be justified in requiring four-year high school graduation in every case of admission to our regular four-year curricula, and this should mean at least 13 units and probably 14 units. On this point it is well to heed the comment of Dr. Jarvis1:

"The practise in some institutions of admitting students to regular freshman standing and of making it easy to remove such conditions has had a serious effect upon drawing students from high school before the completion of four years' work. It would seem that in most states the time had come when the colleges can justly abolish conditional admission, except for candidates who are deficient in prescribed subjects."

As to the distribution of required units it seems that we should consider the advisability of making some differentiation between the requirements for entrance to agriculture and engineering, particularly in mathematics. We might also consider the advisability of requiring one unit in science and reducing the requirement in history from two to one. This would be in accord with the regulations of the Virginia State Board of Education, which prescribe that the sixteen units required for high school graduation shall be distributed as follows: English 4 units; mathematics 2 units; history 1 unit; science 1 unit; and electives 8 units. The entrance requirements should conform as closely as possible to the work of the approved public high schools of Virginia, and as much liberality as is consistent with good college standards should be allowed. If it is not now arranged so that any graduate from an accredited high school can enter some course here, it appears desirable that this be arranged as soon as possible. Prescribed units should generally be only such as are pre-requisite to the freshman work of the college curriculum for which the applicant seeks admission. Thus, it seems unnecessary to require a student who is expecting to specialize in animal husbandry to offer three units of mathematics for entrance.

It might be well to state in our catalog as clearly as possible the conditions under which special students will be received. The age had probably be at least 21 years, which puts the applicant beyond the public high school age.

Requirements For Admission And Graduation Combined

The average distribution of the required work for the bachelor's degree, covering the high school and college periods combined, the latter based on animal husbandry and mechanical engineering curricula, is shown in the accompanying tables. In discussing a similar table based on requirements in agronomy curricula, Dr. Jarvis1 says:

"The chief advantage of such a tabulation is found in the opportunity offered to each institution for comparing its distribution of required work with the average distribution. Altho somewhat deficient as a basis of comparison, the average distribution may be regarded as the main criterion upon which to estimate the efficacy of the various practises. Since considerable variation exists with regard to whether certain subjects should be studied in the high-school period or the college period, the present table furnishes an opportunity also for determining whether any excess or deficiency requirements for either admission or graduation is balanced up in the total eight-year requirement. For example, an institution with a low mathematics requirement for admission may justify its practise if its total eight-year requirement is equal to the average for the eight-year period. In like manner an institution with a low English requirement for the collegiate period may justify its practise if its total eight-year requirement in English approximates the average."

There is great variation among the land-grant colleges as to the requirements in the different subjects. Jarvis's table shows that in the eight year period 71.6% of the required work is prescribed by the colleges either in their own courses or as entrance units. Our tables show 68.9% and 75.7% respectively for agriculture and engineering. Commenting on this fact Jarvis1 says:

"Since the colleges control an average of 71.6% of the work of the eight-year period, it is extremely important that their requirements represent the most appropriate proportions and sequences."

Table 3—Average Distribution of the Required Work for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Animal Husbandry Curriculum as a Basis), Covering the High School Period, the College Period, and the Two Periods Combined

SubjectsFor AdmissionFor GraduationFor the 8-Year Period
No. Colls.
Aver. %
of Total
No. Colls.
Aver. %
of Total
Aver. %
of Total
English47 in 4719.8 (21.4)37 in 385.7 ( 9.0)48 in 4812.8 (15.2)
Mathematics44 in 4714.5 (21.4)23 in 382.1 ( 4.0)46 in 478.3 (12.7)
Social Science33 in 475.9 (14.3)30 in 383.4 ( 1.0)44 in 464.7 ( 7.7)
Science28 in 475.4 ( 0.0)38 in 3826.1 (26.3)48 in 4815.7 (13.1)
Foreign Lang.14 in 474.2 ( 0.0)5 in 380.9 ( 6.0)16 in 412.5 (3.0)
Technical.1 in 470.2 ( 0.0)38 in 3845.0 (45.7)48 in 4822.6 (22.8)
Military & Phys.0 in 470.0 ( 0.0)38 in 384.5 ( 8.0)48 in 482.3 ( 4.0)
Prescribed47 in 4750.0 (57.1)38 in 3887.7(100.0)48 in 4868.9 (78.5)
Elective47 in 4750.0 (42.9)26 in 3812.3 ( 0.0)48 in 4831.1 (21.5)

Percentages in parentheses indicate V. P. I. requirements (new course).

Table 4—Average Distribution of the Required Work for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering Curriculum as a Basis), Covering the High School Period, the College Period, and the Two Periods Combined

SubjectsFor AdmissionFor GraduationFor the 8-Year Period
No. Colls.
Aver. %
of Total
No. Colls.
Aver. %
of Total
Aver. %
of Total
English40 in 4020.0 (21.4)39 in 416.8 (10.6)43 in 4313.4 (16.0)
Mathematics40 in 4019.0 (21.4)41 in 4113.9 (10.6)43 in 4316.5 (16.0)
Social Science24 in 404.9 (14.3)27 in 412.7 (1.1)32 in 373.8 ( 7.7)
Science24 in 404.8 ( 0.0)41 in 4113.5 (15.6)43 in 439.2 ( 7.8)
Foreign Lang.17 in 405.8 ( 0.0)13 in 411.8 ( 0.0)24 in 403.8 ( 0.0)
Technical1 in 400.2 ( 0.0)41 in 4153.5 (53.6)43 in 4326.8 (26.8)
Mil. & Phys.0 in 400.0 ( 0.0)41 in 414.4 ( 8.5)43 in 432.2 ( 4.3)
Prescribed40 in 4054.7 (57.1)41 in 4196.6 (100.0)43 in 4375.7 (78.5)
Elective40 in 4045.3 (42.9)24 in 413.4 ( 0.0)43 in 4324.3 (21.5)

Percentages in parentheses indicate V. P. I. requirements (new course—Foreign Language not counted, because it is optional—Logic and Psychology counted as English, as this is usually given as "argumentation and public speaking" in the English department).

To render ready comparison of V. P. I. requirements (proposed new courses) with the average, the V. P. I. requirements are printed in parentheses in the tables. In English we are considerably above the average all around, especially in our graduation requirements. In mathematics in agricultural curricula we are very much above the average, requiring 50% more for entrance and twice as much for graduation; while on the other hand in engineering curricula we approximate closely the average, being somewhat high in entrance requirements and compensatingly low in graduation requirements. In social science, which includes history, civics, economics, sociology, business law, and similar subjects, our total requirements are very much greater than the average; but unfortunately this is occasioned by the fact that we have the unusual entrance requirement of 2 units in history and require none ill the college period. In foreign language we require 20% more than the average in agricultural curricula, all of it being during the college period, while the great majority of the colleges having any foreign language requirement at all include it in their entrance requirements and not in their college courses. Our revised engineering curricula make foreign language strictly optional, hence the table shows no requirement as against an average of 3.8%, by far the larger part of which is in the high-school period. In technical subjects V. P. I. strikes the average almost exactly, which is surprising and gratifying in the light of other variations. This indicates that we certainly must be about correct in this respect at least. In military and physical culture, we are of course very greatly above the average, as has been already pointed out. As to electives it will be seen that we are not so liberal as the average. It has been stated previously that the richer and larger a college the more liberal it can afford to be in the matter of electives. It costs nothing, however, to be liberal in permitting electives in admission requirements, and it appears that we are unnecessarily below the average here, especially as to the agricultural curricula.

Three years ago the average requirement in technical subjects was considerably less than at present, while the requirements were greater in all the other subjects. This reduction has been distributed over both admission and graduation requirements. The most noticeable change has been in the foreign language requirement, which three years ago was 10.5% of the total for the eight years and is now only 2.5%. Instead of as formerly requiring 14.3% of the preparation for entrance to be in foreign language the requirement is now apparently only 4.2%; and the college time devoted to it has suffered a reduction of from 6.7% to 0.9%. There has been a noticeable tendency to allow greater freedom of choice of electives both, for entrance and for graduation.

It may be commented that as a general principle, it seems well to throw into the high school period the subjects which may most readily be taught by the high schools, and to reserve as far as possible for the college period subjects which are rarely well-taught in the high schools, or for which greater maturity is demanded. For example, linguistic studies can and no doubt should be taught for the most part in the high school, and science studies, both naturaJ science and social science, should be reserved largely for the college. This is true by reason of the fact that few high schools have the proper equipment for the natural sciences, and few high school students are mature enough in thought to deal intelligently with social science. Moreover, according to modern pedagogy and the findings of research in mental development, language abilities are developed most efficiently in the earlier years. Further, the languages—both the mother-tongue and foreign—are but tools, means to ends and not ends in themselves. They are method studies and not content studies, They represent certain skills that must be developed for future serviceable application in the acquiring of subject-matter, therefore, the sooner these skills are acquired the better it will be. These studies should, then, precede such information studies as the natural and social sciences, and the latter are logically college subjects. The conclusion is that, if we include foreign language study in our requirements for the bachelor's degree, probably all of it, but certainly the bulk of it, should be thrown into the requirements for admission and the college curricula relieved of responsibility for it. This is to a considerable extent also true of English. On the other hand, it seems incumbent upon us to provide as liberally as possible for the natural and social sciences, particularly the latter, which now receive but scant attention at our hands, and which have increased many times in importance during the stirring years of the war and post-war period.

One point that this last section of our study is intended to emphasize, should not be ignored, namely, the desirability of an attempt to consolidate the curricula of the pre-college period with the collegiate curricula in such a way as to suggest appropriate sequences embracing the whole period of training for at least eight years previous to the bachelor's degree. This means a single and complete program of work running thru the high school and college instead of two or more distinct programs of shorter duration. The work of the high school period and the work of the college period should certainly be considered as a unit in the interest of economy and of a well-balanced program of training.

In closing, let it be repeated that too much significance should not be attached to the tabulations and comparisons, because it is impossible to guarantee that they are absolutely dependable in every specific detail. They do certainly suggest where the emphasis is being placed and what the tendency is. They serve as splendid guides to a criticism of our own practise as compared to the practices elsewhere. It is also again cautioned that conformity to type is not always to be desired, but conformity to type is the usual thing and there should be substantial reasons for any considerable variation.

Recommendations As To Requirements For Admission

It appearing desirable to raise the entrance requirements and to re-distribute the units of high-school work required for admission to the several groups of courses in accordance with the discussion in the preceding pages, beginning with the fall term of the coming year (1920-21), it is recommended:

First, that the total number of standard high school units required for admission to the freshman year of curricula leading to a degree be not less than fifteen (15) units, representing four years of high school work distributed as follows:

(1) Agricultural Courses32118
(2) Engineering Courses33117
(3) Applied Science Courses33117

Second, that students presenting not less than thirteen (13) standard high school units, representing four years of high school work, be admitted conditionally, it being required that all such conditions shall be absolved before the beginning of the second year of the course. (Courses taken for the removal of entrance conditions may in no case be counted as part of the work credited for any degree.)

Third, that no student less than sixteen (16) years of age be admitted to any course.

Fourth, that a candidate may be admitted as a special student, without meeting the usual entrance requirements, provided he is more than twenty (20) years of age, and gives evidence of serious purpose and of fitness to pursue profitably the work which he desires to take. (No special student may be a candidate for a degree, and no student admitted conditionally may register later as a special student.)

Recommendations As To Courses Of Instruction

It is recommended, for reasons fully set forth in the foregoing report of studies as to the needs of Virginia and the demands upon this institution, and with due regard to the present possible resources of this institution and to its prospective resources for the next two years:

First, that the following courses now outlined in our catalog be dropped from the curricula of the college:

(1) General Science;
(2) Agriculture;
(3) Agricultural Engineering;
(4) Preparatory Veterinary Medicine;
(5) Applied Physics;
(6) Applied Chemistry;
(7) Metallurgy and Metallography;
(8) Applied Geology;
(9) Applied Biology.

Second, that the following courses now outlined in our catalog be revised in accordance with the recommendations of the agricultural and engineering faculties for the courses respectively administered by them:

(1) Agricultural Education;
(2) Horticulture;
(3) Chemical Engineering;
(4) Civil Engineering;
(5) Electrical Engineering;
(6) Mechanical Engineering;
(7) Mining Engineering.

Third, that the following new curricula be offered, beginning with the coming college year, as recommended by the agricultural faculty:

(1) Agronomy (Farm Crops and Soils);
(2) Animal Husbandry;
(3) Dairy Husbandry.

Fourth, that the professor of industrial education be authorized to work out in conjunction with the engineering faculty and the department of agricultural education, and to announce after the same has been approved by the president, for offering at the beginning of the next college year, under the Smith-Hughes act relating to the training of teachers of trades and industries and related subjects, a course (or courses) in:

Education in Trades and Industries.

Fifth, that the agricultural faculty be authorized to revise the Two-Year Course in Agriculture in such a manner as not to make it necessary to add to the instructional staff over and above the force required to administer the four-year courses named above, and to announce the same after the approval of the president.

Sixth, that, after the above-named courses have been adopted the members of the general faculty concerned be authorized to formulate and announce, as far as they can with subjects of instruction required by the above-named courses and such other subjects of instruction as the various departments may offer without additional members of the instructional staff over arid above the number required for the above-named courses, a course in:

Applied Science, with optional groups in as many of the following major fields as may seem expedient:

(a) Biology;
(b) Plant Pathology;
(c) Chemistry;
(d) Geology;
(e) Metallurgy;
(f) Physics.

Seventh, that the adopted courses be published" as soon as practicable, in a bulletin supplemental to the annual catalog; and that they be put fully into effect at the beginning of the next fall term, the programs of students formerly in attendance being made to conform as closely as possible to the new outlines, with such substitution of equivalents and such release from courses formerly required and discontinued as may be demanded by the exigencies arising, due regard being given to the maintenance of proper collegiate standards.

Recommendations As To The Faculty

In order to put the above revised program of instruction into effect it is recommended:

First, that the faculty be reorganized on a basis required by the above courses, and that only such members of the faculty be employed as are needed for the instruction called for in the four-year courses, the work of the two-year course and of optional groups being of such a nature as can be done by the faculty required for the four-year courses, with possibly a few others of a rank below that of assistant professor for help in large classes.

Second, that in making the transition during the coming year from the old to the new curricula, such additional instructors be provided as may be necessary for extra sections and classes thus caused, but that as far as possible regular members of the faculty be expected to carry a reasonable amount of any such extra work, in order to bring about the transition as economically and speedily as possible; and that it be understood that such additional instructors shall be employed temporarily and only so long as may be necessary.

[The Board approved all of the foregoing recommendations as to admission, courses, and faculty.]

1A Study of Engineering Education, by C. R. Mann, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1918.

2American Agricultural Colleges, by C. D. Jarvis, U. S. Bureau of Education, 1918.

1919-1929 Reports

Early President's Reports were published in bulletins, with multiple reports in each bulletin. Note that the original spelling of many words (enrolment, remodelling, etc.) has been retained.

1930-1931 Report


General Report of the President

Reports of

The Dean of the College

The Dean of Agriculture

The Dean of Engineering

The Chairman of the Summer Quarter

The Committee on Graduate Programs and Degrees

The Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station

The Director of the Engineering Experiment Station

The Director of the Agricultural Extension Division

The Director of the Engineering Extension Division

The Librarian

The Adviser to Women Students

The Health Officer

The Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association

Statistical Tables

Statistics of Enrolment and Graduation

Summary of Treasurer’s Reports

1929-1930 Report


General Report of the President

Reports of

The Dean of the College

The Dean of Agriculture

The Dean of Engineering

The Chairman of the Summer Quarter

The Committee on Graduate Programs and Degrees

The Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station

The Director of the Engineering Experiment Station

The Director of the Agricultural Extension Division

The Director of the Engineering Extension Division

The Librarian

The Adviser to Women Students

The Health Officer

The Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association

Statistical Tables

Statistics of Enrolment and Graduation

Summary of Treasurer’s Reports

1927-1928, 1928-1929 Reports


1927-1928 -- General Report

1928-1929 -- General Report


Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports

1925-26, 1926-27 Reports

1925-1927 Introduction

1925-1926 -- General Report

1926-1927 -- General Report


Appointments, Tenure, and Salaries

Vacations, Office Hours, Records, etc.

Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports

1919-1925 Reports



1919-1920 Report

Preliminary Statement

First General Report

Second General Report

Special Report on Instruction

Special Report on Organization

1920-1921—General Report For The Year

1921-1922—General Report For The Year

1922-1923—General Report For The Year

1923-1924—General Report For The Year

1924-1925—General Report For The Year

Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports