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Films and other audio-visual materials inspired reference research. In turn, the research brought suggestions for the use of films, some of which had not been planned originally.
to the regular science curriculum, which covers a great deal of subject matter in an explanatory manner. The teaching units were on geology, water, air, biology, and mechanical energy. Emphasis was placed on the educational needs of the students rather than on any one kind of communication.
Two main problems were apparent at the beginning of the project. First, there was a wide range of ability in the class of 39 students. Complete reading statistics were not available, so IQ's were used as a fairly good substitute. These ranged from 79 to 135 with the usual distribution found in unselected classes. The EM form of the Stanford Achievement Test in Science was given in the first week of the semester to determine grade levels in the subject. These followed about the same pattern as that of the IQ's. The range was from 4.4 to 11.3.
The second problem was that the course, originally designed for a year, had been telescoped into a semester to make a place for a semester of geography.
In view of these problems, no texts were issued to the students. Instead, several science texts were placed on the reference shelf along with related books and pamphlets— all graded from very easy reading to quite difficult. These were supplemented from time to time by reference materials from the library and the free text.
While the preliminary survey of the teaching situation was being made, students were assigned free reading in science magazines. As each student reported orally on the topic that had interested him most, the instructor pointed out the field of science to which it was related on a chart on the blackboard. This procedure stimulated a fairly steady stream of clippings from newspapers and magazines and was continued throughout the semester. It led some students to bring collections of scientific specimens to the class.
An outline was placed on the blackboard for each unit of the course as it was introduced. Each section of the outline was illustrated by a motion picture, a filmstrip, or other audio-visual materials when available. Short presentations were made by the teacher before the projection of each film, and ample time was allowed for discussion after the showing. Occasionally films were
The tape recorder was used in the first oral reports and occasionally throughout the course. It proved a fine aid in self-analysis and encouraged students to improve their reporting.
shown more than once to clear up misunderstandings or to emphasize important points.
The contributions made by audio-visual communications were significant in several ways. Films were used not only to introduce units but whenever they could be useful. Besides furnishing information that could not be obtained so well in any other way, they stimulated interest.to the point where students were eager to do research ' based on film content. Films were especially valuable to students in the lower quartile, who gained concepts via film that they could not possibly comprehend from the printed page.
Filmstrips were especially useful for placing emphasis on important items in the outline and for review. Another excellent method for recall was the recording of the narration of a film on tape while the film was being shown. Then the narration could be played back later after the film had been returned; it was surprising how well students could recall and describe the pictures that went with the narration. And, of course, there was abundant use of bulletin-board materials — mounted pictures, charts, and maps — which added interest to the units.
An outline of the unit being studied was constantly before the students so they could write in their findings as they went along. When a film was not available or not conclusive enough, reference materials were read and reported orally to the class. The brighter students were assigned library references of a more difficult nature, while slower students read the easier pamphlets or carried out illustrative projects with cut-out pictures and original drawings. The reference materials proved to be about as popular with the students as were the films. Although for the most part work was done in the classroom, many students requested permission to take materials home for reading beyond the assignment. Oral reports were often so voluminous that they had to be cut short.
The tape recorder was used in the first oral reports and occasionally throughout the course. Almost everyone wanted to hear himself: the recorder proved a fine aid
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