Tyler, Ralph W.University of Massachusetts—Amherst
RALPH W. TYLER is a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst.
This analysis and discussion of program evaluation is based on my experience with the evaluation of education programs. My observations suggest that these experiences can be generalized to a considerable degree to evaluations of other social programs, such as the Poverty Program of the Great Society in the 1960s.
This brief commentary on progress of curriculum development and implementation has concentrated on the problems of identifying what needs to be learned to exercise responsible citizenship in a democratic society, on the extent to which universal access to this curriculum has been achieved, and on the progress made in helping all children learn what the schools are expected to teach. There is little reported evidence on the first problem and I have depended on my own reading and my participation in curriculum development activities. My subjective judgment is that slow but significant progress has been made by schools that are widely regarded as leaders.
No matter how hard curriculum “technicians” try to keep curriculum concerns as purely instrumental matters, reality keeps rearing its head. The language of efficiency, of standardization, of cost accountability, of bureaucratic rationalization—always promising to become the primary if not the only way we deal with curriculum—seems never to quite succeed in placing a lid on other even more powerful curriculum issues.
The conditions required for conscious human learning are the same whether the learning takes place in school or in nonschool settings. Learning is a universal characteristic of all human beings. Behavior that is instinctive, that requires no practice or previous experience to carry on effectively, is very limited in the human species. No child could survive the first year of life without learning many things. Learning is as natural and universal among humans as respiration or digestion. There are no nonlearners.
The American leaders of curriculum development after World War I sought to base their guiding principles upon the results of scientific studies of education. Thorndike's investigations of transfer of training had destroyed the earlier confidence in the educational value of school subjects as such. Formal discipline could no longer be invoked to justify the inclusion of such fields as Latin and geometry in high school programs. The relevance of the content of the curriculum to the problems and activities of contemporary life had to be considered. Furthermore, scientific studies of memorization showed that children forget material in a short time unless they have frequent occasions to recall what they have memorized. These findings suggested that curriculum content must be selected which children will have early and frequent occasions to use.
Since World War II, and particularly during the past decade, profound changes have been taking place in educational evaluation. This yearbook reviews some of these developments and seeks to assess their significance for both educational theory and practice.
The preceding chapters have described and explained some of the significant changes that have taken place in educational evaluation. They have also suggested a number of important implications of these developments for educational practice. In some cases, the reader can discern patterns of future movement that appear to be imminent, but predicting what is to come is hazardous. In a world that is rapidly changing, the future is full of surprises. Nevertheless, this chapter attempts to suggest features of the road ahead, as well as to review the current situation.
Since the previous chapter has dealt with economic, social, and political forces, this one gives primary attention to current work in other social sciences. During the past decade or two, major developments have included not only the great increase in numbers of investigations of human behavior and a corresponding increase in findings but also the emerging conceptions of the human being, of social organizations, and of the individual's relations with others.
American school administrators are currently interested and concerned with the effects upon the high schools of the great increase in pupil participation in external testing programs. Indicative of this interest and concern was the establishment in 1959 of the Joint Committee on Testing of the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Since the end of the Second World War, educational changes in the United States have been frequent and, to some extent, contradictory. In most school districts enrollments have sharply increased yet in some districts the number of children in attendance has diminished.
American students are commonly thought of as the objects of education rather than influential factors in directing the work of schools and colleges. The usual way of conceiving the educational system is as an institution which aids in the transformation of the unsocialized child into a responsible, mature, and fully socialized adult. In this way of viewing education, the student is the raw material which is processed and becomes the finished product. The use of such a conception is misleading if it conveys the notion of students as inert, passive individuals, more or less effectively identified with some scholastic regime. But they are, in fact, exceedingly active participants in the educational process, not only in the sense that learning requires the active participation of the learners but also in light of the powerful influence they exert in determining what is learned and how great an effort is expended in the process of learning. Much of this influence arises from the group organization of youth rather than from isolated individual behavior.
The complexity and variety of factors influencing the development of American education make it impossible, with our present knowledge and our present ways of conceiving social reality, to set forth a single system which accurately and adequately explains what is now taking place in shaping our schools. This was recognized in planning the yearbook, and each of the chapters after the introductory one presented an analysis of American education using a different social-science discipline, thus giving the reader eight views of the scene through eight different lenses,
Since the focus of integration in an educational program is the student, the effectiveness of curriculum organization in facilitating integration depends upon the extent to which it aids the student in perceiving appropriate relationships among phenomena and ideas, in sensing the meaning and significance of his feelings, and in developing abilities, skills, and courses of action which are guided by comprehensive knowledge and thought and by disciplined feelings. The way in which the structure of the curriculum is organized does not in itself guarantee that the student will learn to integrate thought, feeling, and action in the several arenas of life, but a structure which does not bring into relationship learning experiences which students can perceive as having vital connections makes it less likely that many students will learn to react to them in any unified fashion. Hence, the organization of the curriculum makes a difference in the effectiveness of integration.
This chapter and the two following are directed to the work of the classroom teacher in carrying out such a program.
Since the founding of the National Society for the Study of Education fifty years ago, the development and expansion of graduate work in education have been phenomenal. Literally scores of American universities have established graduate programs in education. The number of Master's degrees granted each year exceeds the number of Bachelor's degrees awarded in this field thirty-five years ago, while the Doctor's degrees in education now conferred annually exceed the number of Master's degrees that were earned a quarter century ago.
Because the organization of the University of Chicago is different from that of most American universities, its structure needs to he explained in order for the reader to understand what is included in the graduate departments. The College is the basic unit of the University, offering a four-year program of general education beginning not at the thirteenth grade after the student has graduated from the twelfth grade of high school but commencing at the eleventh grade. Hence, the College includes Grades XI, XII, XIII, and XIV. Upon the successful completion of this four-year program of general education the student receives the Bachelor of Arts degree.
The approach to class instruction developed in this chapter emphasizes the factor of interaction among the students in the class as well as the relation between teacher and pupils. This way of viewing teaching and learning in the classroom has emerged out of new findings from studies in social psychology.
During the war and the period immediately after hostilities cease the re-examination and revision of the American school curriculum will go on apace. This is a particularly appropriate time for curriculum revision because the social dislocations of the war make it easier to create interest in change and also because wartime experiences have provided certain new findings of importance to education.
Ralph W. Tyler — 1938
To appraise the significance and the nature of its influence upon American education requires a consideration of the techniques used by achievement-testers and the ideas that their work has injected into our educational program.
This chapter has been written both for producers and consumers. In making diagnosis one needs to appreciate the characteristics that make the diagnostic procedure satisfactory. Frequently, important characteristics are neglected and an inadequate diagnosis results. Furthermore, teachers and administrators who utilize the results of educational diagnoses made by others need to use standards for judging the quality of the diagnoses. The characteristics discussed in this chapter should suggest the qualities expected of an effective diagnosis.
Basically, diagnosis involves two general steps. The first is measurement, or appraisal, and the second is interpretation, or inference. In fourth-grade reading, for example, any satisfactory diagnosis involves measuring or appraising the pupil's reactions under a variety of conditions related to reading effectiveness and difficulties and then the interpretation of the results of these measurements. Diagnostic procedures use, therefore, the techniques of measurement and the methods of interpretation.