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At the University of Pennsylvania the psychological laboratory offers field work to its students by bringing the material directly to them in the form of backward children, the entire supervision here resting with the university. The sociological field work at the same institution is carried on with personal conference as the coordinating element. No class work is given in this particular course, but sociology is a prerequisite. At Morehouse College, an institution for the higher education of negroes in Atlanta, the connecting link is found in the teacher of political and social sciences who is also one of the probation officers for the city. There is, besides, a chartered organization known as the Neighborhood Union which gives its attention wholly to girls and women. This is directly connected with the school and operates in the city.
One of the most broadly developed plans of sociological field work is found at Harvard under the department of social ethics. I quote from a recent letter from Professor James Ford:
“Field work in this course has been undertaken in various forms. For example, in my class of last year six members made a thoro housing survey of several blocks in the city of Boston. Each man visited all the apartments within the blocks in his assigned section and filled out cards for each house and apartment. The investigations were made in the company of the regular municipal sanitary inspector of the district. Each student in the course of the term was assigned to several districts and thus to several inspectors. The students were made to summarize the findings of their investigations in different quarters of the city together with comparative statistical tables and maps of their districts. The findings were placed at the disposal of the municipal health department and were also put into the hands of the municipal city planning commission to accompany a scheme privately projected for the replanning of one of the areas inspected.
"Two other students studied tenement house fires, making their inspections in company with municipal and metropolitan fire inspectors.
"Other students made maps showing the distribution of new buildings in the city of Cambridge, or distribution of three-deckers, and the like, which have subsequently been utilized by the Cambridge City Planning Commission.
"Two or three years ago, when I was serving as a member of the Cambridge Sanitary Commission, I used about twenty students to gather material either in the field or in municipal or private offices. This involved detailed work in the office of the Cambridge Board of Health and the City Clerk, also examination of records of the Associated Charities, Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and other private bodies.
"The amount of supervision required necessarily depends upon the subject at which the student works. I permit no housing surveys to be made except where there is reasonable assurance that the findings of the investigation will be utilized for the advantage of the municipality. Often there is some private body interested in the investigation made which provides a certain amount of supervision. Municipal supervision is, of course, provided. In addition, I require students to report to me at frequent intervals.
“The grade is given for this work precisely as for other thesis work within the department. The student in filling out housing investigation cards is acquiring material which must be summarized and submitted in the form of a thesis which is graded in the usual manner. Some allowance is made in grading the cards for neatness and for accuracy of the results obtained. The latter is checked up by students. But the grade of the student for his research is determined primarily by the report submitted. In addition, of course, there are tests upon prescribed reading and lectures of the course, which are large factors in determining the grade of the course.”
I have quoted thus in detail because several interesting points occur: supervision of field work is here exercised entirely by the city authorities thru municipal sanitary or fire inspectors. The findings of the students are primarily for practical usefulness, and serve as information for various city departments and commissions. Frequent reports to
. the professor in charge are required. Actual credit is given for the work done, the grade being based on the character of the report submitted. The accuracy of results is checked up by reinvestigation. In addition lectures are held and reading is required, upon which tests are given. The system thus outlined may well serve as a model, since it meets all the requirements of strict supervision, careful coordination and useful cooperation with civic interests.
A somewhat different kind of field work is illustrated by the activities of students in the Settlement House maintained by the Department of Sociology of Syracuse University. The second annual report of this organization brings out the following facts:
“The University Settlement is located in the center of the Fifteenth Ward of Syracuse, in the heart of the most densely populated section of the city. This neighborhood presents, on a modified scale, practically all of the elements of the slums of a greater city..... The social work is under the direction and management of the Department of Sociology of Syracuse University. The greater part of the work is being done by students who are doing major work in sociology at the university. Under the supervision of these a large number of other students assist with the work.”
In connection with this Settlement a training class for social workers is carried on at the university in which students receive two hours per week credit for the year, four hours actual work per week in addition to readings being required. No remuneration is given student workers.
In the Syracuse plan as above outlined, the university not only has full supervision of student workers, but even controls the facilities under which the work is done, thus differing materially from the Harvard system. In both, however, the students are rewarded by college credit.
Different again is the plan of field work carried out by students of the Cleveland School of Education under the direction of Dr. Jean Dawson in the anti-fly campaign waged in that city last summer. These girls were selected by Dr. Dawson for their peculiar fitness for the work after preparation in courses specifically designed for this purpose. While not legally appointed sanitary inspectors they were granted a definite badge by the city Department of Public Welfare and were backed in every way by the various departments of the city. Their work was to make a thoro investigation of the city and, so far as possible, to eliminate all places where flies could breed, reporting to the proper authorities those persons who failed to comply with their directions. For this work each girl received a remuneration of $7.00 per week, but no credit was given in the normal school nor was, to the best of my knowledge, any effort made to coordinate this field work with any concurrent course of study. This plan furnishes a still further variant from those in use at Harvard and Syracuse.
The brief survey just given shows a variety of methods now in actual use in the conduct of field work in our colleges and universities in one department only, that of sociology. While fairly representative of methods in general those just detailed are capable of considerable variation to meet the demands of subject and surrounding conditions. Without going into a broader field it is interesting to summarize the variations on the basis of the standards of comparison as already indicated: 1. Methods of supervision:
(a) By outside agencies (Pittsburgh, Harvard); (b) By the college department (Pennsylvania, Syra
(a) By personal conference (Pennsylvania);
3. Plan of accrediting: (a) By giving college credit for field work alone
(Pennsylvania); (b) By giving college credit for field work with class
work (Harvard); (c) By money remuneration with no college credit
(Cleveland). This all goes to show the utter lack of any standardization in the realm of field work. It is quite possible that such standardization will never come—that it is not even desirable that it do come. Yet a conference of those under whose supervision such work is carried on would doubtless serve to eliminate much of the wide divergency in practise and to secure the universal adoption of certain desirable elements and the elimination of undesirable ones. I should not, however, like to leave you today with the inference that all those attending such a meeting would be professors of sociology. The scope of field work, while not universal, is much broader than the limits of any one department. Time forbids details, but I wish, at least, to read to you a list of some of the various kinds of field work carried on in American colleges today. The following enumeration is far from complete but is at least typical of the various kinds of efforts now being made:
Practise teaching in city high schools.
Work of cooperative engineering students in industries and city departments.
In New York business firms (New York University).
Municipal sanitary inspection (College of City of New York and School for Public Health Officers conducted by Harvard and Mass. Institute of Technology).
School nursing in New York public schools and settlements (Teachers College, Columbia University).
Home Economics in New York public school lunch rooms (Teachers College, Columbia University).
Cooperative law courses with practical law-office work (Georgetown University).
Assistants to city chemist (Akron).