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How to Measure in Education

Nature volume 110, page 601 (04 November 1922) | Download Citation



IN the work under notice an attempt is made to show that everything in education must submit to statistical measurement or be condemned as worthless. Fourteen theses in praise of measurement are blazoned in large type at the outset. One of them states, “To the extent that any goal of education is intangible it is worthless”; as this is given not only the dignity of capitals but also the embellishment of inverted commas it presumably conveys some meaning to the author. Education in this book means a few of the elements of instruction, such as reading, writing, and the mechanical parts of arithmetic and composition. An elaborate analysis is given of how to diagnose defects in reading, and ignoring the analysis, we are told that “there are more failures due to failure of interest than the world dreams of.” The schoolmaster who has important tasks in education other than those of teaching mechanical elements would greatly value some help in measuring the interest of his pupils, but will ask in vain. The importance of carefully framed instructions in giving tests is rightly stressed, but we are told that such "instructions should equalize interest."To accomplish this the pupil must, apparently, be told how important it is to do well in a test. If he is refractory, or keen on other things in school besides tests, the advice may not be effective. Masters, however, are in a worse plight, for the tests are used not only to measure the pupils, but also the teaching and the teachers; and that form of measurement is said to be of most service “which does not require a previous acquaintance with the pupils.”

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