Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements
 

Dangers and Difficulties of the Project Method and How to Overcome Them: V. Student Reactions to the Project Method


by R. W. Hatch - 1921

I was asked to speak on the dangers and difficulties which have been successfully overcome in the teaching of my classes by the project method in the Horace Mann School. These classes are in the ninth and tenth years of our senior high school. The ninth year class is studying modern European history and the tenth year, modern problems. These pupils are observed daily by my Teachers College class, who are for the most part experienced teachers of history and civics.

I was asked to speak on the dangers and difficulties which have been successfully overcome in the teaching of my classes by the project method in the Horace Mann School. These classes are in the ninth and tenth years of our senior high school. The ninth year class is studying modern European history and the tenth year, modern problems. These pupils are observed daily by my Teachers College class, who are for the most part experienced teachers of history and civics.


The more I thought of the topic given me for discussion the more I hesitated. I realized that I might be considered a prejudiced witness. And so I resolved to shift this responsibility to the shoulders of my students,—both those who are taking the course in the Horace Mann School, and also the observers from Teachers College, And so I asked these two groups to give careful thought to this question: "What do you consider to be the good and the bad features of the project method?" The answers in all cases but one were handed in without any name attached. From the replies I have listed the following items, avoiding unnecessary repetitions, but giving in their own words their testimony for and against the project method as I have interpreted it in my teaching procedure with them.


I will give first the answers of the Horace Mann pupils. In nearly every instance there was a majority vote of the class favoring the statement as given.

GOOD FEATURES


1. We have overcome the difficulty of getting enough references by going to many different sources for material so everyone may be prepared each day.


2. We learn how to organize materials for ourselves and do not have everything prepared for us by the teacher.


3. We do our arguing and discussing on the basis of "light, not heat," and are becoming more broad-minded.


4. We learn more lasting information because we have rooted it nut for ourselves.


5. It trains us logically, to think clearly, and to get our ideas over to the class.


6. The pupils have attained an independent attitude of studying and we are getting along much faster.


7. Our discussions are usually the most helpful part of our lessons.


8. Getting and putting things together from the library has helped us a very great deal, not only in history but in everything.


9. Our interest in current literature has been stimulated.


10. We learn how to do things, how to work out our own problems.


11. We learn to thrash out questions for ourselves, instead of relying on text-books.


12. The pupils are more interested and will work harder. They will remember what they learn because they choose the subject and build it up themselves.

BAD FEATURES


1. We are not yet able to curb unnecessary discussion.


2. We talk too much about "the project method" and what we are going to do next.


3. The home-work assignments are indefinite, although we are improving in this respect.


4. Too much time is spent on one project.


5. It is hard to get references that bear directly on the point of discussion.


6. There is a tendency to wander off the track when becoming interested in something else.


7. We don't do our home-work regularly.


8. Too much of the work is carried by a few pupils.


9. The pupils who do not do outside reading can get away with it without anyone noticing it.


10. Too much time was spent on the negro problem, but that has been successfully met with in our last project on prohibition; but still can be improved.


11. We could not go to college on the project method because we never can limit ourselves to any length of time, therefore, we could not cover enough ground. (The class was about equally divided in its opinion on this last statement.)


From the answers handed in to me by my observers from Teachers College, who have followed the work daily from the beginning of the spring term, the following expressions were compiled. In order to get a general response both pro and con I asked the group of regular observers to vote on each statement and have appended their answers, giving the "Yes" vote first in each instance.

ADVANTAGES


1. Tolerance of the opinions of others, open-mindedness and good-will. (7-0)


2. Self-reliance, i. e. ability to go and gather useful information. (7-0)


3. The beginning of a scientific and critical attitude toward material. (7-0)


4. General orderliness: (very good (4); good (3).) Discipline shifted from teacher to group itself: self-government.


5. A get-together spirit and ability to cooperate. This is a remarkable feature. (7-0)


6. Good fellowship and good leadership. (7-0)


7. Acquiring the power to participate in worthwhile constructive discussion. (7-0)


8. An aroused and increased interest. (7-0)


9. Wholehearted activity stimulated in pursuit of knowledge. (6-1)


10. Remarkable facility in using parliamentary procedure as an instrument in conducting class affairs. (7-0)


11. The teacher is "not dethroned." He is in the center of the group as adviser and guide instead of dictator. (7-0)


12. Responsibility for the conduct of the work felt to rest on both teacher and pupils. (7-0)


13. Life situations (approximate). (6-1)

DISADVANTAGES


1. Loss of time in ground covered due to parliamentary discussion. The latter, however, felt to be distinctly worthwhile; a question of relative values. (7-1)


2. Loss of time due to needless discussion, but the class is conscious of this fault and is trying to overcome it. (8-0)


3. A lack of continuous and severe mental work. (3-4)


4. The slower student seems to demand more definiteness in the daily assignments. (7-1)


5. Getting beyond the depths of the pupils so that they talk about things without clearly understanding them. (2-6)


6. Certain required subject-matter slighted, (1-7)


7. Non-participation on part of some members of the class is greater by this method. (3-5)


8. Encourages the expression of opinion not founded on sufficient knowledge. (3-5)


These replies furnish the evidence as to the success and failure of our particular application of the project method. As the instructor of these classes I have only this to add: I have been a teacher of history and civics for nearly twenty years, and for the first time in my experience I am beginning to feel that I am attaining those objectives which the old Committee of Seven told us, under the caption of "Training for Citizenship," we ought to get from the study of history,—namely: "the power of gathering information"; "training in the handling of books"; "developing the scientific habit of thought"; "the relation between cause and effect"; "the cultivation of resources within our pupils"; and "so to develop historical-mindedness (open-mindedness) as to materially influence the character and habits of the pupil."


I have purposely arranged these lists so that the dangers and difficulties not successfully overcome should stand last, and consequently leave the stronger impression with my hearers. For to every one of us who believe in the project method here lies the challenge and here the opportunity.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 22 Number 4, 1921, p. 306-310
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 3986, Date Accessed: 12/7/2021 10:55:16 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
 
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • R. W. Hatch
    Teacher of History, Horace Mann School

 
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS