Recent freshman classes have shown a tremendous increase in reading power, William G. Perry, Jr. '35, Director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, said in a report given at yesterday's Faculty meeting. Having this much raw ability to work with, the College can turn its attention toward developing flexibility and purpose in reading, he stated.
Perry explained last night that scores on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, which are for the most part "standard reading tests," have increased "enormously." This rise indicates skill in interpreting short passages, Perry observed, but it does not necessarily mean that students have the judgment and determination needed to complete a long assignment.
In addition, this year's compulsory reading test for new students, the first of its kind given anywhere, "showed that, while incoming undergraduates had a lot of reading power, they still had a lot to learn about using it," he stated. The test, which presented a history passage to be read and assimilated under normal study conditions, was an attempt to assess flexibility and concentration.
Remedial Class Develops Judgment
The remedial reading class, with an enrollment of 450, "has shifted from teaching the mechanics of reading to developing courage and judgment," Perry stated. "Its large enrollment demonstrates the degree to which students who can already read better than 95 per cent of U.S. freshmen realize their short comings."
He stated that "the next step will be continued efforts to encourage independence of mind and purpose in reading, something which the Faculty has always done."
In conclusion, Perry emphasized that "in the end, each instructor in his own course remains the expert in instilling freedom of judgment. The extracurricular course is only a supplement to this training."