* Modes of Inquiry: A Report on Division I at Hampshire, 1981.
* Progress by Examination, 1981.
* Ways and Byways through Hampshire: A Report to the College Community, 1981.
* A Study of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at Hampshire College, 1981.
* Hampshire and Pointed Firs: The Employment of Faculty by Term Contracts, 1981.
* Science Education at Hampshire College (Women and Science), 1981.
* Hampshire Alumni and Alumnae: What They Are Doing and What They Say About the College, 1981.
[The Ten Year Review was a College-wide examination of the progress made since the founding of the College. Focusing particularly on the academic program, the Ten Year Review Reports excerpted in this chapter examined what worked well and not so well in Hampshire's distinctive program.]
Modes of Inquiry: a report on Division I at Hampshire College
by Ann M. Woodhull, 1981.
THE WAY WE PLANNED TO BE
Hampshire College presented its first students with a liberal plan for their Division I Basic Studies. Beginning students would take courses in each of the three schools of the college (Humanities and Arts; Social Sciences: Natural Sciences and Mathematics) and in Language and Communications, a special program. They might substitute independent studies for some of these courses. During the first year the college would accumulate a file of questions for each student, on which he or she would be examined at the end of the year...(p.1)
HOW WE CHANGED TO THE PRESENT SYSTEM
Such was the liberal scheme proposed in the first Hampshire College catalog, a modification of the plan in The Making of a College. What happened in the first year of the college was something else. When eager founding faculty and students began working together, they weren't content only spending time in courses and in the examination structures devised by the planners of the college. They got together before the May examination period and started working on Division I examinations tutorially. The first exams were done by the most confident and self-motivated students, who took interesting questions and did substantial work on them.
For example, one of the first Natural Science exams included several questions in the area of physical science. One of the questions was a question of relativity: "How would a cube look if it were coming at you at nearly the speed of light?" The student devised a computer program that would graphically illustrate what this cube would look like if it were rushing by the observer. He spent an enormous amount of time, energy, and creativity on the project. At the examination time he set up a meeting with his committee so that he was face to face with them. The committee members started discussing and arguing about the project, ignoring the other questions in the student's file, and the student passed by general acclamation for the excellence of the project and for puzzling a physicist, mathematician, and a biologist with the ingenuity and completeness of his answer.
This kind of interaction, in which the student took off on the most interesting question and did a major project, became the model for Division I examinations. The first exams were not done by typical students, but the mold for all the students was set by the first exams. Both students and faculty had the sense that everything was up for grabs; they could change and shape the way exams were done. And they did.
Today a Division I examination is a student-initiated, student-timed project. In each of the (now, including Language and Communication) four schools of the college the student devises a question requiring a project whose form and content are negotiated with a committee chaired by a faculty member. He or she writes a proposal on a proposal form that requires a paragraph describing the project (rather than a simple statement of a question). The student must initiate the examination, which can be done at any time of the academic year. There is no fixed time in May when everyone must get down to examinations. This matter is of enormous importance, because it means that students can progress quickly or they can do nothing at all. Clearly, also, the fact that a Division I examination normally consists of a project chosen by the student, rather than questions devised by a faculty member, gives the student new autonomy and responsibility. (p.2-5)
1. Time-and-energy consuming. A system in which students design their own exams and work individually with faculty members is necessarily time-and-energy-consuming. However, our system as it is now working shows some avoidable inefficiencies and conflicts. It may be that reduction of these problems (see points 2 and 3) could give both faculty and students relief and a sense that the time is well spent.
2. Inefficient. From the students' point of view "inefficiency" means that students spend undirected time on projects that they start but that do not work out because they were too broad, the student couldn't find a faculty member, or because the student simply lost interest...Some of the effort probably could be directed more efficiently if students had contact with faculty members at the right times, or if courses supported exams more effectively.
From the faculty point of view the system is inefficient in that they spend time with students who do not complete an exam or otherwise use faculty time inefficiently. A student starts to negotiate an exam and then vanishes. The student may see another faculty member, or two or three, and finally do an exam on the same or different topic. Some students take up a lot of faculty energy because they simply are not willing to do the work or want faculty members to give them constant direction. At the opposite extreme are students who do not want contact with faculty members but do the work on their own. They may also use faculty time inefficiently if they do a kind or quality of work not acceptable because they did not seek guidance at the right time.
3. The dual course/exam load. Both students and faculty members feel that courses and Division I exams are in some ways complementary and in some ways in conflict. A large part of the course/exam conflict comes about, in my judgment, because we, especially the faculty, have not yet fully accepted exams as the measure of progress. We expect courses to have a life, a weight, and a set of requirements of their own, rather than to serve examinations. Redesigning Division I courses to provide the skills, introduction, and direction that students need in order to complete their Division I exams is work that has only been begun.
4. Too individualistic. Almost all Division I exams are done individually. There are group examinations done by two or three students working together, but these are uncommon, even when a faculty member in a Division I course encourages students to work together. When defining a project, students give priority to developing their own ideas, and their own ideas are seldom identical to anyone else's. The result is that Division I is a lonely process for students, as many students remarked in interviews. It also sets the tone for Division II and Division III as individualistic rather than collective enterprises.
5. Faculty stretched thin. Students expect to be able to do an exam in any area of interest that they define; this means that they must find a faculty member for any area of interest. Faculty members are under pressure to work on subjects in which they may not be interested or expert. A student may define a perfectly good question that does not match faculty interests. In some areas that may mean that the faculty member has to do extensive reading in order to have the background to supervise the exam. In other areas it means that students demand "independent studies" (which at the Division I level might be called "dependent studies") on topics not included in the current course offerings ("I need an independent study on psychosurgery.") This is both draining for the faculty membrs and frustrating for students, who expect to be able to explore any area with equal ease, and find faculty unwilling.
6. Coverage and Division I. Division I sacrifices broad coverage in order to get to specific and interesting questions early. Division II is supposed to be the time when students get broad background.. From the number of students who complain about the narrowness of Division I it seems that we are not making the objectives of Division II clear enough. "Division I is supposed to make you feel uneducated," says Brown Kennedy, and I agree. The gaps in knowledge and skill that are felt by the student and diagnosed by the faculty at the Divsion I level are to be filled in during Division II.
7. Transition to Division II. There are several reasons why the transition from Division I to Division II is difficult. One is given in point 6, that the different objectives of Division I and Division II have not been made explicit enough. Another is that in doing a Division I exam students and faculty seldom discuss how Division II will follow...
8. Advising. Advice from faculty (the student's adviser or another teacher) is important to students' success, yet it is not linked in any formal way to courses or exams...This lack of formal structures requiring contact between students and faculty members allows some students who particularly need advice to select courses and spend the first month of the semester without seeing their advisers at all. Advisers are nonetheless held responsible for students' progress. Some faculty members are very frustrated at this disparity. (p. 52-54)
1. Active learning. Students in interviews said strongly that having to define one's own project at the Division I level was an important component of taking responsibility for their own education. They felt that they learned to research questions or do creative work actively and learned independence through this process. Faculty members also find that the Division I system encourages this virtue.
2. Promotion of inquiry attitude. Students and faculty both remarked that, beginning with the Division I project, students developed an inquiring attitude towards all knowledge. Students' comments on five-college courses are particularly relevant; they said that the five-college courses often seemed cut-and-dried or unquestioning, but that they carried their own questioning attitudes into these courses. Some students also made poignant comments about how this inquiring attitude would affect their lives. They felt it was impossible simply to fit quietly into society's structures as they otherwise might have done.
3. Facility at doing projects. Students gain the ability to define a doable project, to gather together their resources, and to follow through. Without this kind of training in doing projects it is inconceivable that students could design and do the advanced Division III work of which faculty members and graduates are proud.
4. Practical skills. In the process of doing Division I examinations students learn how to meet faculty members, negotiate tasks, and present themselves and their ideas. They learn how to manage their time and how to get themselves to work.
5. Enhanced sense of self. Students' sense of themselves as capable people is enhanced by successful projects. Students said, "Before I did this I didn't know that I could do such work. Now I know I can do it, and I can go farther if I want to."
6. Academic skills in a context. In doing Division I projects students use academic skills such as writing, library research, surveys, laboratory experiments to further the projects that they have defined. Students value the chance to use writing, for example, purposefully. They said that they learn these skills better in the context of their usefulness towards a goal.
7. Working and reworking. The process of working with a faculty member and getting corrections and criticisms on work are very important learning experiences...The ability to take criticism and to know when to seek help are important skills whose value certainly extends into Division II and Division III and probably extends beyond Hampshire.
8. Influence on faculty development. The inquiry approach and the Division I process influence faculty members' development also...New students who have not been conditioned to the disciplines and their boundaries bring in fresh questions that are exciting to faculty members. Often students bring faculty members from diverse areas together on their committees. Finally, the questioning attitude that we seek to impart to students has enormous influence on faculty members as well. There is a great deal of thinking going on among faculty members at Hampshire College. It seems to me that this thinking and questioning has not yet found nearly as many outlets in faculty productivity as it can.
9. There is no failure. There is no such thing as failing a Division I examination, but students can be required to do more work in order to finish. This is a strong part of our ethos and probably affects students' self-images strongly. It is reflected in students' comments about Hampshire's supportive atmosphere and comments like, "Now that I feel confident in this area I will take an off-campus course in it." In a traditonal system, the end of the semester marks a cut-off point, when the work must be finished, for better or for worse; at Hampshire students sometimes feel burdened by work that is left over from semester to semester. However, in general the opportunity to bring work up to standards rather than to fail outright seems to be a strong positive value for faculty and students. (p.55-56)
Proseminars have recently been instituted as one possible solution to the problems of Division I. I have heard faculty members ask, quite reasonably, whether it is true that the proseminars will take care of so much. In this section, I present a brief analysis of the proseminar experiment...
The proseminars arose because of a college-wide concern that entering students were not flourishing in Division I...Nineteen proseminars were taught in the fall of 1979 in response to this proposal. The faculty members met as a group and laid out goals for the proseminar program...
There is a feeling of success about the proseminars. Most faculty and students who participated in the first nineteen proseminars and responded to a questionnaire identified certain elements as successful. Having a relatively homogeneous group (all new students) in these courses and discussing the Division I process were aspects valued by both faculty and students...
Despite this feeling of success, the model for proseminars is not yet clear, because different faculty have different aims and emphases in their proseminar teaching. A suggestion made by John Hornik and others is to unify the proseminars by gearing them towards "fundamental skills" of critical reading, writing, bibliographic skills, and group participation, and de-emphasizing project work. I have several strong objections to the idea of proseminars as "basic skills" courses: (1) The "basic skills" as stated are biased towards the social sciences. In particular, they tend to exclude primary experience...in the arts and natural sciences, by excluding the specialized technical skills a student needs to get started in these areas (data-gathering, visual awareness, fieldwork, for example). (2) The skills of doing project work are just as basic to a Hampshire student as the skills already named. According to students' own testimony in interviews, the greatest barrier at the Division I level is being able to find a question, become committed to it, and focus it into a workable project. These are areas where they need help in courses. (3) Three of the original eight goals of the proseminars, those involving learning how to do a project, would be lost. (4) The idea that the "basic skills" must be mastered at the Division I level sets up yet another barrier to students' progress, Division I is slow enough already. Although students certainly should work on these skills at each level, part of the function of Division can be to diagnose; Division II can be used to strengthen skills.
In my view, the focus of proseminars should clearly be understanding the Division I exam from start to finish: formulating and developing an idea, using resources, gaining whichever skills are necessary, and bringing a project to closure... (p.57-59)
The following suggestions are conservative, in the sense that they support the present system of Division I examinations-as-projects. Before we attempt more radical changes, I suggest we try fully implementing the system we have.
1. Division I courses should be made to serve Division I examinations. The courses should teach exactly the elements that go into an exam, both basic skills and project skills. Besides inspiring students and giving them an inquiring turn of mind, teachers should give careful attention to the tools students need to carry out that inquiry--ranging from library and reading skills to the skill of focusing a question, and any technical skills necessary to carry out a project in the area of study...
2. The proseminar program should be strengthened and made more consistent, in line with the previous point. The special needs of beginning students for orientation to the Hampshire system and for contact with faculty members are beginning to be served by the proseminars...
3. Short courses in Division I...courses at the Division I level which last for only half a semester, leaving both faculty and students time to do projects in the second half of the semester. Such courses have been tried fairly extensively in Natural Science, and faculty members there are enthusiastic about them. I believe that if the aim of Division I is a quick introduction to the methods of inquiry in a particular field (and I believe this is the chief aim of Division I) then short courses that do not attempt large surveys are an ideal means; these might be particularly appropriate for Division I courses that are not proseminars--i.e., not for beginning students.
4. Give students fewer options. At present, students expect to be able to do a project on their first choice of topics in each of the four schools, regardless of what courses are offered. Faculty time is wasted as students try out projects for which they are ill-prepared. Students need to be informed that very few (less than 10 percent) can complete a Division I project in a school without taking a course in that school. If students learn to limit their options and take courses for background, they can get better service from faculty with less frustration.
5. Make Division I exams diagnostic. Students have very high aims for the Division I examination, and faculty members are only too glad to go along with those aims and encourage students to do their best. However...if the Division I exam were made more diagnostic, and the student as well as the faculty members were required to state where the gaps were...then the extra work that would be required to bring the project to excellence would not be ignored, but it would be put off until the student's Division II...
6. Clarify Division I and Division II expectations for students...Discussion of Division II and its aims should be part of Division I examinations...
7. Develop a clear, reasonable set of expectations for rate of exam completion. In some cases these expectations should follow the trends already apparent; in others, we need to influence the trends. The first Division I exam is rarely completed in the first semester; students and advisers should regard this as a time of adjustment and learning the system. On the other hand, students should complete one or two exams in their first year, and should complete all four Division I's by the end of the second year. The majority of students now complete their fourth Division I in the sixth or later semester. I know many students who have done good, late exams, but the burden of opinion of both faculty and students is that putting off Division I exams until late creates destructive pressures...
8. Involve advisers in new ways. Much work has been done on the advising system including helpful changes in the Dean of Advising's office and the use of proseminar faculty as advisers. However, Division I students still evade faculty advice at times when they particularly need it. Perhaps mandatory contacts, as during course registration, are the easiest route.
9. Devise new mechanisms for encouraging collective Division I exams. Isolation is a major problem at the Division I level and beyond. Proseminar faculty, meeting in groups, would be in a good position to suggest ways to encourage collective exams.
10. Substitute Division I courses for some Division I projects. It should be clear by now that I would regard substitution of courses for projects as a mistake, not an improvement..A point-by-point check on our consensus goals in Division I...reveals that the parts of Division I that would suffer the most under such a change are the practical and intellectual skills of defining a question and working on it--some of Hampshire's greatest strengths...(p.60-62)
CONCLUSION: STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS
We have evolved a distinctive structure for Division I at Hampshire College: a student-initiated project on a topic of the student's choosing, the task being negotiated with faculty members, and the criteria held by the faculty. Since each element of this structure has real consequences for faculty and students, it should not be changed casually. For example, allowing students to do some of their Division I examinations by doing courses would not merely affect the form of the examination; it inevitably would affect the content and criteria as well. Substituting courses for a project would change the process of reworking up to standards; and it would change the amount of active learning that goes into an examination.
The Division I structure is one of the strongest and most innovative parts of our system. It requires that beginning students not only understand the "modes of inquiry" but also be able to use them to carry out increasingly independent work. Our Division I uniquely fulfills a major objective of a liberal arts education, to enable the student to be self-educating. After ten years of developing this innovation, we are now in a good position to try changes that will reduce frustrations of the system but retain the excellent benefits that it gives us. (p.63)
Progress by Examination
by Nancy Thornton Goddard. 1981.
My purpose here is to describe the Hampshire academic program, to trace its evolution from that described on paper in The Making of a College to its present-day practice, and to examine its effects on students and - to some extent - faculty. Attention will be paid to the progress of students with respect to both rate of progress towards the degree and progress toward intellectual maturity.
The goals of the Hampshire educational system appear to be much the same as those of other liberal arts institutions. Self-realization of the individual in society is a prime goal. Achievement of this is seen to require knowledge of the ways people have historically related to their world, and acquisition of the tools requisite to living fully and well in our current rapidly-changing society. At Hampshire full development of one's potential is seen as requiring a high level of active decision-making on the part of the student. To cope well in a changing society dictates that the educated citizen understand the modes of conceptualization, explanation, and verification of knowledge. It is less useful to memorize a body of "facts" that may soon be obsolete than to "know how to know." In other words, it is more important to learn to use the intellect than to be able merely to exercise it. The Hampshire program emphasizes conceptual inquiry, or modes of inquiry...Process is emphasized over inert content. This is believed to be at the heart of all learning.
If learning is to continue throughout life one must be able to take charge of one's continuing education. Knowing how to pose the right questions and having command of appropriate modes of inquiry truly liberates the mind and the individual. Even the independent intellect often finds it desirable to engage in cooperative, group efforts. Competition carried to extreme is counterproductive. By eliminating grades, and, thus one stimulus to competition, Hampshire has sought to develop a healthy learning environment. Evaluations are in narrative form both for course work and divisional examinations, and they address the intellectual qualities and growth of the individual. Students are encouraged to help each other learn, to engage in group projects, and to share ideas openly with each other. Independent scholarship and cooperative skills are both valued outcomes of the Hampshire program: the desired balance between the two is often difficult to attain.
In a questionnaire distributed in connection with this review, a clear majority (90.6%) of the faculty responding (51% response rate) say they are strongly committed to the Hampshire system. A comparable number believe strongly that Hampshire teaches students the skills of independent research and scholarship, prepares them to make decisions with confidence, not only in terms of their education but in other areas of life as well. They believe that the Hampshire approach minimizes competition even if it does not actually foster cooperation; that it teaches students to strive to achieve their best by insisting that work be reworked and revised rather than abandoned in an inferior state; and that the process of proposing and negotiating examinations with faculty and others teaches a crucial life skill. The means by which these goals are achieved, though constantly under review, discussion, and experimentation by the faculty, remain relatively unchanged from those proposed by the founders ten years ago. (p.2-3)
PART ONE: THE EXAMINATION SYSTEM
A companion-piece in the Ten Year Review of Hampshire College, Ann Woodhull's essay offers a description and analysis of Division I. Students are expected to have passed the Division I examination in the school(s) of their concentration prior to beginning Division II. The present discussion begins at that point.
DIVISION II DESCRIBED
Division II Examination: The Tasks
In Division II, students are expected to define their area of concentration, expand their facility with conceptual inquiry, gain experience as a functioning scholar in the chosen field, and acquire skills needed in order to perform professionally. The are to learn to "speak the language" of their field...
The Division II student will usually have had prior contact, except possibly in the case of the transfer students, with at least one faculty person in the school(s) in which the Division II work will be done. This contact will usually have been made in Division I, and, in fact is viewed as being an important outcome of the "distribution requirement." Division II ideally begins with the student's conferring in depth with this previously identified faculty person or the adviser. This early conference time is spent exploring the student's academic interests, determining what the student wants to learn, identifying major subject areas and skills needed to prepare one to perform professionally in that area, and then discussing alternatives available at Hampshire, the other Five Colleges, and through field study. The student is encouraged to think in terms of how to spend time over long periods and to establish priorities. Faculty interviews reveal that, in practice, students rarely initiate Division II planning discussions prior to having done at least some work themselves on what courses and activities might be appropriate. Rarely do they come in expecting the faculty person to tell them what to do. A tentative plan may be developed, and the student may then begin engaging in the activities outlined in it. (p4-5)
The Division II Committee
Each student must establish a committee of two or more persons for Division II. The chairperson and one member of the committee must be a member of the Hampshire faculty...The student must approach prospective members and either only describe the proposed plan of study--in whatever stage of incompleteness--or present them with a tentative written proposal. If, after such discussions, there appears to be mutual interest and compatibility, the student asks them to serve, either as chairperson or as committee member. (p.7-8)
Division II Proposal/Contract
The agreement between the student and committee becomes binding when all have signed the proposal. It contains a description of the direction of study, goals of the student, main questions to be explored, a list that is as specific as possible of courses, workshops, internships and other activities to be completed, a description of the method of evaluation and the expected date of completion, and a list of the committee members' explicit duties. The document is then filed with the exam secretary in the school corresponding to that of the chairperson. The proposal/contract is subject to review and approval by a school examination committee...When the proposal has been revised, if necessary, and has gained approval of the school committee, it is a contract, passes to Central Records, and becomes a part of the student's official record.
Division II Examination: The Test
The student is ready for the Division II examination when all the terms of the contract have been met, as judged by the committee. The examination is usually only the last of a long series of conferences. If so, it usually contains no devastating surprises for the student. The actual examination takes one of many forms. Commonly, the student schedules one-to-two hours at a mutually convenient time to meet with the committee as a group, who reflect upon the student's accomplishments and discuss the student's readiness to engage in a fairly clearly defined, independent investigation for Division III. The discussion is likely to focus upon a preliminary proposal of a Division III study, with attention to a Division II portfolio presented by the student that contains evaluations from course instructors and supervisors of independent study or internships, samples of written work or major papers that were produced expressly for Division II evaluation, or other appropriate products of Division II. (p.9-10)
Division II Analyzed
...The Making of a College states that "the principal objects of Division II are to enable a student to explore the disciplines of the four school fields further, to become accepted as a major student in one of the schools, to become initially trained in the concepts and methods of a single discipline through inquiry and experience applied to real subjects and projects, and to broaden his knowledge of the linkages among disciplines and fields."
The present study indicates these are goals that students currently do pursue in Division II, except for the further exploration of the four schools. Such widely distributed study is usually not done as part of Division II. Rather it is is usually in progress concurrently with Division II but at the Division I level. Division II is regarded as being the time both to grow intellectually and to acquire depth of knowledge and skills in a given concentration. The Hornik report states that Division II has as its primary criterion the development of intellectual maturity, and such maturity is defined as "having the concepts, the skills and the knowledge to do substantial work in an area." Thus the ultimate test of Division II lies in Division III, when the student engages in such independent work. Hornik's definition is still current among faculty. Since common goals are held by most, why, then, does there seem to be continuing confusion and ambiguity surrounding Division II among both faculty and students?...
When students choose a major at a traditional institution they are not defining themselves but are simply choosing a broad area of interest. Here the student is in a continual state of evolving self-definition.
One might question the wisdom of leaving the initiative to the student. While it is true that good advising can ease the transition, the faculty have made a conscious decision to place responsibility with the student. Although it is hard work, time-consuming, and frustrating for the student, the process of formulating a Division II program tends to produce an independent scholar. Students who have completed Division II often cite the freedom and control it has given them in their intellectual lives.
Students view Division II as perhaps the most confusing and awesome part of their undergraduate work...Many tend to shy away from decision-making, put off writing the contract, and often avoid discussing it with anyone, especially faculty. Few understand what it should be until after its completion or well along the way, yet they expect to be able to see the whole clearly from the beginning. Understanding what Division II is and should be is probably most difficult for the student with eclectic interests. They are attracted to disparate questions and have special difficulty seeing what the underlying intellectual enterprise is. Having to justify one's studies is seen to be an especially difficult task...(p.15-16)
Division II Overall
What, then, can be learned from this examination of Division II? First, it appears that there is no single prescription for a successful Division II. Students' interests, needs, and problems are diverse. Our goal of producing an independent scholar whose potential is fully realized compels us to nurture this diversity. The faculty see themselves as responding positively to this quest. They might find it easier to 'tell' the students what academic route to follow then to lead them to self-discovery. Further, although their traditional training may suggest that they think of 'requirements' and an insecurity may surface if certain areas of knowledge are not taught, Hampshire faculty resist playing the authoritarian role through boundary-setting and curricular coercion.
Student experience confirms this point. Many students find themselves wishing someone would tell them what to do, rather than having to bear the responsibility of decision-making themselves.
Division II is not a natural and easy consequence of Division I. Learning analytical skills appropriate to a given discipline, how to pose answerable questions, developing a healthy skepticism, a questioning attitude toward so-called facts, are expected outcomes of Division I and prepare the student in certain ways for Division II work. Division I, however, does not necessarily arm the person with knowledge about (encyclopedic information on) the subject. There is much uncertainty, too, about whether there is a single mode of inquiry that can be applied in all Division II study within any given school, and especially within Humanities and Arts.
The key to an easy transition between Divisions I and II seems to be not so much the student's own ability to envision a well-defined program of study at the outset, as it is the establishment of close working ties with an adviser and with the Division II committee. Procrastination in committee selection and contract-writing may be symptoms of underlying insecurities and indecision, as is the practice of poorly-planned leave-taking. Outreach efforts directed to these individuals need desperately to be continued and increased. Lack of understanding of the system, identity crisis, and impractical goal-setting are still common problems. Finding the right courses and the right committee are others.
Two extremes of good Division II's might be said to be, on the one hand, those which are well-defined from the start. These students are likely to write the proposal early and make few, if any, revisions along the way. An equally good but opposite Division II evolves for the student who does not know what her/his Division II is. The committee sees the pattern: it is evident to everyone but the student. For these students, the point at which the Division II statement can be written signifies the point of completion. Synthesis of diverse knowledge is a defining characteristic of a good Division II.
Whatever the pattern, within the successful Division II the individualism of the student is drawn out, the tools of the educated person are acquired, and scholarly independence and maturity are cultivated. Division II concentrations may encompass a wide range of alternative approaches to learning, from the strictly traditional to the highly unusual. A persistent student working with a sensitive committee in Division II often lays a basis for learning in a field that will be his or her intellectual metier for life. (p.24-25)
DIVISION III DESCRIBED
Division II Examination: the Final Task
Division III is the cynosure; it has been the focus of attention and planning for a sizable portion of most students' college careers. Its completion is a joy for the faculty and for most students. In Division III the student moves from being primarily a consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge. Division III embodies the application of competencies acquired in Divisions I and II. It consists of an independent study project, integrative work, and community service.
Division III is expected to take one full year for completion, with approximately one semester being spent on research related to the independent study project and the other on analysis, writing, or completion of the thesis, work of art, documentary film, or other product. (p. 25-26)
Division III Analysis
For students entering Division III there is usually no need for an explanation as to what it is or should be. The college takes pride in the Division III projects. Some say that, in effect, everyone who graduates from Hampshire does "honors" work. Many ordinary students do extraordinary Division IIIs. They demonstrate that they can do, eliminating the need to guess about it.
Success in Division III relies upon the person's having learned needed skills through a series of stepping stones: Division I and Division II. Knowing how to use faculty and outsiders is just as important as knowing how to use the card catalog. One must know how to find someone with whom to look at the question and how to obtain laboratory space, studio, tools, or other equipment.
One also needs to know what tasks are within one's ability to achieve and to judge the time the task will demand. The student who changes direction repeatedly in Division III may reflect the system's failure in Division II, where conversations with the committee and connections made with other faculty are expected to help the student set a feasible course of Division III.
The faculty can be more directive with Division III than with either of the other divisions. In Division I, the process is most important. In Division III, the product is most important. Those students who succeed in defining their own questions, creating their own sound plans for examining them, and examining their own work critically, have evidenced the scholarly independence Hampshire strives to develop. Because flexibility of depth is allowed, there is evidence of intellectual growth and development of the individual even in the poorest quality Division III.
The Division III program of studies varies in several ways from that described in The Making of a College. Community service as a Division III requirement was added early in the history of the college, and the practice of substituting integrative solo work for the integrative seminar became common in the earliest years. A more gradual change, but perhaps more profound, is the elevation in status of the independent study project. It has come to be almost synonymous with Division III.
Its superordinate importance is sometimes explained by noting that when the transcript is reviewed by graduate schools or employers the project is likely to be the most relevant and revealing single indicator of a student's capability. The Division III project also conforms to modern society's emphasis on specialization over generalization. It is usually the most specialized Division II work that leads to Division IIIs of master's thesis quality.
The community service and integrative requirement have become drastically subordinated, a pair of minor hurdles. They are not taken by some students to be a serious part of their academic accomplishments, nor representative of their best efforts. For many others, even though these activities may not be considered educationally valuable beforehand, the accomplishments and perspectives gained from them are valued afterward. They are occasionally seen to be the most creative and useful aspect of their work.
The current shift in status of the three Division III components has compounded Division III problems. For some students Division III is crushing. They spend hours and hours studying alone. Isolation is deeply felt. They agonize over an ill-defined topic and worry that they have not chosen the "right one." Some propose to do the entire thesis in one term, feel trapped, and live out the semester in panic. Some believe they are expected to do work comparable to a master's thesis but are incapable of doing so.
Disagreement is apparent as to the preferred fate of integrative work and community service requirements. Some advocate abolishing both; few feel they are a success as now practiced. Those who advocate increased emphasis upon the integrative requirement suggest that enforcement of more rigorous standards, perhaps through testing, would quickly effect an increase in its status. Such practice would be more in keeping with that envisioned by the college planners.
Faculty often complain of being coerced into accepting Division III students who are off campus during their entire final year or who try to do Division III in only one semester. These students, by so doing, cheat themselves out of the enrichment that can be gained from frequent contacts with the committee and the adviser, and sacrifice the benefits of full participation in Division III's three components. The School of Humanities and Arts is considering enforcing the requirement that Division III students spend the final year on campus. This seems appropriate on the surface, but may discourage useful and productive internships. The entire community would benefit from a clearer understanding of the need for devoting a full year to Division III. Requiring a final semester on campus has been and is a college policy, but is occasionally finessed.
Despite the shift in Division III emphases, current practice has not, for most graduates, led to the withdrawal into the autarchic self of which we were warned in The Making of a College. Depending upon the nature of the independent project, however, the Hampshire experience may reduce the likelihood that our graduates will have "detachment and skill enough to know, engagement enough to feel, and concern enough to act, with self and society in productive interplay, separate and together" (The Making of a College, p. 153). If the project does not promote integrative skills and help develop a consciousness of community, absorption in a narrowly-defined independent study project may work against the balance Patterson envisioned. (p.33-36)
PROGRESS WITHIN THE SYSTEM
Progress has two meanings that are not necessarily correlative...It means advancement between divisions and toward the degree, with exams acting as traffic lights that regulate it. Another meaning is intellectual growth and development. The first implication may seem to be less worthy of serious consideration than the second. The flexibility of Hampshire's system was seen by its founders to offer the advantage of completing the college experience in less than the traditional four years. Because of the way our system works, rate of progress is determined by the student, not by the institution. "Expected" or "usual" patterns disappear. Thus, rate of progress seems connected with growth of the individual. Those students who cannot propose and carry out tangible, substantive academic work that is presentable and examinable will not progress through the Divisions. Lack of progress is often a reason for students' withdrawal from Hampshire. Some discussion of both forms of progress appear necessary to an enlightened evaluation of the system.
Progress by either definition may be enhanced or limited by the resources brought to Hampshire by the student. Admission selection criterial are of utmost importance. Several cues are believed to be predictors of an individual's ability to succeed at Hampshire. Those persons who are readers, thinkers, able to communicate their ideas well, and who understand the place before they come in will take Hampshire by storm. Passive learners, memorizers, do not do as well. Those who come here "together" will make it. These are often persons who are straight and narrow, stable. Persons who are seriously disorganized in personality, immature human beings, will flounder in non-creative ways. The culturally and socially disorganized person does not belong here. A high degree of resilience is necessary for success. This and a tolerance for ambiguity are part of a healthy personality. Ours is not the easy undergraduate model it is sometimes misjudged to be by outsiders. It is more likely to be the most challenging one...(p.48-49)
Once the student has arrived on campus, several factors influence progress. Good advising, quality of social life, where and with whom one lives, may be crucial. It has recently been shown by the Dean of Advising that students who live off campus are three times as likely to be moving more slowly than average on their exams (cause and effect have not been clearly elucidated yet). Chronological age upon entry appears to have little effect upon rate of progress, nor does type of secondary school (public or independent). None of these has been correlated with depth of learning or quality of accomplishments. Progress may be enhanced by early exposure to the modes of inquiry that are characteristic of each of the four schools and exposure to the resources they have to offer. Early identification of a mentor also favors progress. (p.50)
If progress through the exam sequence represents improvement in ability to grapple--independently--with complex issues within a specific field or interdisciplinary cluster, then each piece of divisional work should prepare the student for work at the next level and with decreasing need for faculty input. The majority of faculty believe this is true. They endorse the notion that an important part of Division I, in addition to introducing the students to the "tools" of a particular mode of inquiry, is that students learn to be comfortable with the uncertainty they feel when asked to set their own goals and limits. Learning to make proposals, central to the educational outcome at Hampshire, begins here. Exposure to the four multidisciplinary areas in Division I helps promote sound choices regarding work at the next two levels. Division II provides depth of experience in a given disciplinary or interdisciplinary program of study that is then drawn upon in developing and executing Division III work...One of the reasons faculty so strongly endorse Hampshire's system of progress by examination is that they continually see growth and development in the students who are actively engaged, and they believe there is clear evidence that such progress is, indeed, measurable in the system and being demonstrated by the student. (p.53-54)
Ways and Byways Through Hampshire College: A Report to the College Community
by Garry Dearden and Malcolm Parlett, Higher Education Study Group,
Education Development Center, Newton, MA. 1981.
In this report--which complements other parts of the Ten Year Review--we set out to examine how students make sense of Hampshire College. We concentrate particularly on the academic domain. We have tried to understand the nature particularly of students' experiences, to depict the college as seen through their eyes, and to build our own understanding of the college at the same time...(p.1)
Usually when we study a college setting we try to identify, and then to understand, the connections between the organizational procedures and requirements on the one hand, and habitual responses of students on the other. Typically in colleges...when students talk about the ways in which they cope with "the system," the same themes recur again and again. There is a certain uniformity, a local predominant mode.
Our study of Hampshire College was not the same. We were, of course, particularly interested in how students related to the opportunities, constraints, and supports provided. But common patterns of academic study were not forthcoming--at least, "common" in the usual sense of uniform. Hampshire students do not have standardized academic experiences, they do not go through a similar mill, their trajectories are uniquely defined...
There was one general conclusion we did come to--a pretty obvious one at that. A shared feature of Hampshire for all students is that each student works in a unique fashion. Common academic experiences and shared ventures, though they exist, take a back seat: personal faculty attention and individual project work are the essential educational media. From the very beginning, students weave a unique pattern of experiences that largely reflects their own interests and preferences. We have taken this as the defining characteristic of Hampshire College and as the major organizing theme for our study. (p.5)
THE UNIQUE STUDY PROGRAM
...We discuss here a number of consequences that...derive from the emphasis on independent studies. Some of these consequences were planned by Hampshire's founders, others perhaps not. We discuss them because we think they receive less attention as phenomena than they deserve.
Thus, there are SKILLS. There are particular skills that students are likely at Hampshire to acquire and which are promoted or fostered by the unique study program, as well as by the whole milieu of the college. These skills are perhaps special to Hampshire; at least compared to other places, they are notably encouraged and reinforced.
Second, there are students' ENCOUNTERS WITH KNOWEDGE. The whole gamut of ways in which students engage with academic knowledge and culture are inevitably influenced by their undergoing a individualized mode of study. The Hampshire student's immersion in specialized subject areas is of a very different kind than if he or she had gone elsewhere.
Third, students' RELATING TO THE INSTITUTION deserves comment. The complicated connections and links between the college as an educational institution and its students are also affected by the unique study program. Inevitably they must be of a type that is compatible with and that supports the predominant mode of study. Different basic educational formats necessitate different student/teacher relationships and different administrative arrangements. These three general areas of consequence will be examined in turn. (p.7-8)
1. Students have to make academic decisions.
...At Hampshire, unless a student makes choices and acts on the decisions made, nothing happens. Advisers can encourage and even advance suggestions. Particular schemes, such as the recently introduced proseminars for first-year students, can provide ideas and some structure. A variety of helping resources are at hand. But at Hampshire, there is no escaping the necessity to decide: e.g., when to work on a Division I examination, whether or not to enroll in a particular course at the University of Massachusetts, which of several possible faculty members to approach, whether to live in a mod or a dorm, and so on. Students who are clear and crisp with their decisions probably have an advantage over those who agonize and do not have their minds made up. (p.8)
2. Students become acutely sensitive to what interests them.
...Deciding between alternatives can be painful, and those with strong competing interests may resist deciding. Others whose intellectual leanings are less defined have a problem of sharpening and focusing their interest. Others may hang onto what they thought was an interest when in fact it has lost its original excitement-generating quality. Still others may be reluctant to accept and follow a newly emerging interest because it upsets elaborate plans. Some are flighty and intellectually promiscuous, picking up new interests easily and losing them as quickly; some are single-minded battlers over time; and so forth. Some find a consuming interest early, some very late in their time at Hampshire.
Faculty are crucial helping resources with regard to interests. They respect students' struggles, knowing the importance of each student's finding her or his own way forward. They counsel and give practical support; they help students to sort out their priorities and preferences and to weigh the consequences of a change in direction. They do not undermine but endorse and strengthen the pursuit of the personally interesting. (p.9-10)
3. Students learn practical self-management.
When so much depends on self-starting, on keeping moving, and on individual taking of initiatives, periods of non-productivity and intellectual confusion can induce self-doubt. At one time or another, most creative people operating largely on their own have been beset, to greater or lesser degrees, by slumps of confidence and loss of momentum. At Hampshire almost all students have to contend with "down" periods, in the same way that they are likely to experience times of being "up," excited and working flat out.
Through the various cycles--highs, lows, and in-betweens--faculty, again, can and do exercise corrective influences. Their interventions are often vital; they encourage, stimulate, and otherwise help to empower students who seem momentarily or chronically unconfident, or are drifting. They also suggest to the careless and over-confident student that perhaps a broader treatment of a topic is required, or that more care should be taken over detail. They give advice and counsel on how to proceed.
Over time, students learn from their experiences--they learn both the delights and the hazards of pursuing an independent working style. There is encouragement--embedded in the very philosophy and practice of Hampshire--to learn to manage their affairs...(p.10-11)
4. Students acquire a sense of being personally responsible for their progress.
...That students feel a sense of individual responsibility, and that the Hampshire philosophy and system support their doing so, should not lead us to downplay the highly significant role played by faculty. Compared to conventional colleges, Hampshire puts students largely on their own: but teachers still teach. Faculty members have to walk a very fine line. On the one hand, they have to offer guidance, to criticize, to goad. They have to judge when a student is taking too much responsibility (e.g., perhaps when students are overly self-critical for falling short of an unrealistically high standard) or too little responsibility (e.g., when a student expects a faculty member to come up with solutions the student could reasonably find alone.) (p.11)
5. Students acquire a "project mentality."
Another consequence of the unique study program is that the units of work completed by students are usually individually negotiated, relatively large-scale, and few in number: they are projects...
The skills and adaptations involved in doing projects include choosing a topic, getting consultation, planning what to do, finding the resources, organizing investigations, sorting through data or information, pulling the work together, presenting it or writing it up, negotiating revisions, bringing the project to ultimate completion, and finally letting go of it to move on to something else. Projects foster a creative cycle of this type: the Hampshire system fosters projects. The skills are not just cognitive in nature--the whole person is involved. Projects are difficult to seal off hermetically from the rest of living. (p.12)
6. Students are made aware of the educational process itself.
Because the Hampshire experience is so different from conventional education and in many cases contrasts sharply with previous schooling received, there is inevitably consciousness of basic educational questions on the part of students. They are not caught up in a system and set of operations that have evolved over decades and that all take for granted. Instead, they are in a very self-analytic and still experimenting institution...(p.12)
B. ENCOUNTERS WITH KNOWLEDGE
7. Students are likely to engage in interdisciplinary work.
Although there are the four schools at Hampshire (Humanities and Arts, Language and Communication, Natural Science, Social Science), and each has its distinctive character, the general pattern is not one of segregated academic territories. The absence of subject departments is itself conducive to breaking down many of the usual barriers existing between disciplines...
The cross-disciplinary communications and relationships between faculty inevitably provide a model for students. Talk they hear and take part in is not all within a context of a single academic discipline but crosses academic boundaries...The project mentality is one that is not normally confined to a single intellectual outlook. (p.13-14)
8. Students seek to be original.
One of the consequences of students' having unique study programs is that a human being's natural creativity is not stifled by group pressure. At Hampshire, there is a natural expectation--based now on a decade of experience--that students will treat a chosen topic in an independent and creative way. The norm or ideal seems to be to make some small but genuine discovery--to do something, again, that is "real" rather than as a contrived exercise; or to take a new and unorthodox approach to an old topic. Needless to say, not all students are as successful in being innovative as others, but a surprisingly high number are...(p.14)
9. Students learn to question intellectual authority.
The value attached to individuality of intellectual work reflects the whole tenor of the institution, which is supportive of independent outlooks and attention to personal preferences.
Another, and related, Hampshire tradition is one of "debunking." There is tolerance shown towards radical critiques and a willingness to entertain unorthodox points of view. Almost in any field the structure of "generally accepted knowledge" can be questioned; or rendered "problematic;" or shown to have assumptions and values embedded within it that are not openly acknowledged. Students at Hampshire are permitted, even encouraged, not only to use the usual frameworks of knowledge, but also to question them, testing their limits and exposing their flaws. (p.14-15)
C. RELATING TO THE INSTITUTION
10. Students develop strong professional relationships with at least one faculty member.
The Hampshire system is based upon decentralization of academic authority. Within the Hampshire system contact with faculty members represents the essential connection to the institution. Elsewhere, students may derive a sense of identity in part from membership within a department or academic grouping of some kind. At Hampshire, these links are less evident: the crucial bonding seems to be to individual faculty members. A student normally encounters faculty members for advice, consultation, and direction. He or she necessarily has to interact personally with faculty in order to be examined.
Some students do not form close connections; they minimize their contact with faculty. We strongly suspect that such students are the most "at risk" in terms of whether they graduate from Hampshire. With a unique study program, getting to know a faculty member well is not merely a desirable extra to a Hampshire education--it is far more a vehicle for that education...(p. 15-16)
11. The evaluation of students is individualized and difficult to carry out because criteria are unique.
...The system where faculty members work together on examination committees is one way in which broadly common criteria come to be adopted and faculty learn from each other. Nevertheless, the system is such that disparities and discrepancies are bound to occur. Some students will be tested more severely than others, and a few students will use the inherent flexibility of the examination process to find a more lenient examiner or a way to slide through without much effort. A superficial comparison made by an outsider would probably suggest that a less vigorous evaluation procedure exists at Hampshire than generally in higher education. But in traditional institutions easy courses and easy majors are commonplace, and manipulations of the system are, of course, rife: moreover, in colleges elsewhere, one detects widespread cynicism and disrespect for the mode of evaluation that are not to be found at Hampshire, where close personal attention is an automatic feature of the evaluation process. (p.17)
12. Students do not build social connections via their academic affiliations.
In most small colleges, students derive friends, social contacts and other "people they know" from three sources: those who live close by; those who engage in similar extracurricular activities; and those who engage in a common academic program or in departmental life. The third category at Hampshire is much less in evidence than in most colleges. Although students do take courses together, much of their central academic work is pursued on their own...
Given that Hampshire students need, like everyone else, affiliations and friendships, correspondingly greater investment comes to be placed in other kinds of membership--notably those deriving from living arrangements. Where a student lives, and with whom, assumes great importance at Hampshire; much of a student's sense of well-being hinges on the quality of dorm, mod, or apartment life; and a great deal of time and involvement goes into domestic matters of one kind or another.
We are suggesting that the unique study program, and all that goes with it, is largely responsible for students' trying to find a sense of rootedness and connection to other people via where they live. While many students make highly satisfactory arrangements, there are also problems--sometimes severe. One can speculate as to whether, in an institution so heavily oriented around the pursuit of individual efforts, life in mods (and to some extent even in dorms), with its emphasis on living collectively and collaboratively, proves a naturally difficult contrast. Since individualism elsewhere in the institution is so heavily reinforced, some of it is likely to spill over into communal living.
In other cooperative student efforts some of the same difficulty, we suspect, tends to arise. We noticed a tendency for collaborative student organizations to be top-heavy with chiefs and to find it easier to generate alternative creative strategies than to build solidarity in order to follow a single agreed-upon strategy. (p.18-19)
Our first obligation has been to describe the college in a fashion that is recognizable to students. Unless we meet that criterion we shall have failed. But we also hope that through reading this account, others, not students, will learn something about what is is like to be a student at Hampshire College.
We want, to end with, to make two points.
First, students judge the college by high standards. They are often very critical, yet we have sensed throughout that most students care passionately about Hampshire's future: they are not indifferent. The history and the present phase of Hampshire, as well as the future, invite their concern and attention.
Second, there is an ongoing debate at the college about whether there is a "Hampshire type" or not. Some believe that unless a student possesses already a constellation of personal and intellectual attributes of a certain kind, before she or he arrives, he or she will not do well. Others argue strongly that there is no such "type" and that there is no reason why a very broad range of students cannot function and do well at Hampshire. We incline towards the second view.
Undoubtedly it does help for individuals to be assertive, to have come from progressive secondary schools, to be independent-minded, to have a propensity to become deeply involved in projects, to be socially confident, and so forth. But there are others who arrive at Hampshire from traditional backgrounds, who are shy, who do not have defined interests, and who have been used to direction and want a dependent academic relationship. And such students graduate and are pleased with their time at the college.
Hampshire is diversified enough to allow for many routes to be taken--indeed, the unique program of study offers opportunities for each student's academic career to be individually mapped. There is no lockstep, few routinized procedures forced on people, no standard expectations that are insensitively expressed. The possibility to find a way through Hampshire is there for everyone.
We would say, however, that a particular range of personal styles and ways of acting do get differentially reinforced at Hampshire and that, in order to survive and do well, many students move in the various directions that help them to do well (and which are discussed in the first major section of the report). Equally, there are other students--perhaps most at one time or another--who experience Hampshire as a struggle: as a lonely, even frightening struggle, and they encounter difficulty, mainly with themselves. Students do arrive in different states of preparedness--for instance, transfer students often do particularly well. Thus, some move through the institution speedily and graduate quickly. Others, on the other hand, have a lot more basic growing and learning to do--they learn to be autonomous, intellectually productive, and so on, but take a while to do so.
Rather than thinking of a personality type as the make-or-break factor, we would suggest that a student's finding a compatible faculty member and getting into a good working relationship is the more critical issue. There may be other ways that students do really well but, in our view, the faculty connection is the most important, common, single contribution.
Having said that, let us underline that we are wary of generalizations--there is no grand way through the college. Rather there are many different ways and byways. (p.68-69)
A Study of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at Hampshire College
by Frederick Stirton Weaver. 1981.
I. ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES, PROFESSIONS, AND UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
Since the idea of interdisciplinary study presupposes a firm understanding of disciplinary study, it is only fair to be clear about what I mean when talking about academic disciplines. In this essay, I use the terms "discipline" and "academic discipline" interchangeably and in the most conventional senses. The idea of convention is important, for disciplines are principally conventions, but they are conventions defined and enforced by departments, learned societies, journals and degree structures. That is, behind the conventions, disciplines are professional organizations, the foundations of which were laid in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With the ascent of faculty power within colleges and universities, buttressed by notions of academic freedom and the practice of tenure, the disciplinary professions were firmly established by the end of World War II...
One frequently noted aspect of disciplinary professionalism is the manner in which research and teaching are weighted in training and in rewards; while teaching is invariably listed as one of the main functions of academic disciplinarians (and remains the major basis of their employment by educational institutions), the universally acknowledged route to professional success is through research and publication...teaching undergraduate students, few of whom will ever become disciplinary professionals is a relatively low-status activity and an unlikely route to tangible professional benefits. (p.1-2)
The most common organizing device of liberal arts undergraduate curricula is the academic discipline, a category of knowledge fashioned by the interests of research professionalism rather than by the goals of undergraduate pedagogy. The principal arbiters of disciplinary definitions are the faculty of leading graduate departments, whose members dominate professional organizations and journal editorial boards, and overwhelmingly influence funding decisions by major foundations and granting agencies. Disciplinary professionals continually try to define their disciplines so as to monopolize certain areas of specialized expertise for certified professionals, and the resulting definitions of disciplinary content change over time...(p.4)
The major point here does not concern the substantive differences among disciplines; rather, it is that even if one accepts current disciplinary categories' usefulness for research purposes, the substantive organization of disciplines is intellectually arbitrary in respect to pedagogical purposes. Disciplines simply were not developed to help an undergraduate organize thinking about the world, and there is certainly nothing in their constitution to suggest that pedagogical usefulness has been an unexpected by-product. Yet undergraduate curricula continue to look like watered-down versions of graduate programs designed to train research professionals. Undergraduate study, by and large, is an introduction to one or more disciplines, and disciplinary definitions prevail in discussions about such central educational principles as breadth, depth, coverage, and rigor. They prescribe the range of legitimate discourse.
Only by studiously ignoring the character of academic disciplines and standard undergraduate curricula can one accept the anachronistic terms of the earnest debate about "liberal" versus "pre-professional" education. Curricula for undergraduate majors in liberal arts disciplines make sense principally in terms of their rigorous pre-professional nature; breadth requirements are formulated through political compromises among disciplinary departments and for the most part rely on courses belonging to several diluted graduate disiplinary curricula. The remainder of an undergraduates' program can be chosen quite freely by any student, liberal arts or not. (p.5-6)
II. THE DISCIPLINES AS SEEN BY HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE PLANNERS
...The two major planning documents of Hampshire College are New College Plan (1958), written by a committee of faculty from Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and The Making of a College (1966), written by Hampshire's founder-president, Franklin Patterson, with the assistance of the founding vice president and second president, Charles Longsworth. A strong common thread running through both books is the idea that undergraduate education ought to promote student intellectual independence and initiative to a far greater extent than did current best practice. But the two documents differ in the significance and implications they attach to this principle.
The New College Plan did not consider these aims to be a particularly radical departure from then-current aims of liberal arts education, and repeatedly stressed that the New College program was "a proposal for changes not in ends but in means." (p.5) The authors recommended against disciplinary departments as sources of unnecessary proliferation of courses. Departments were inefficient, and their inefficiency conflicted with the imperative for low-cost operation. Even so, while there were to be no departments, "the intellectual life of a college must be structured to a large extent by the specialized disciplines" (p.10)...(p.6-7)
In some vital respects, The Making of a College stands in sharp contrast. Patterson and Longsworth consciously went beyond New College Plan, and beginning in the preface and recurring throughout the text, the authors unequivocally stated that the Hampshire College "academic program will be distinctive in its ends as in its means" (p.xii). Drawing heavily from Daniel Bell's The Reforming of General Education (1966), they declared that the organizing principle for Hampshire's academic program will be "conceptual inquiry...exercising the intellect to learn, use, test, and revise ideas, concepts, theoretical constructs, propositions, and methodological principles in active inquiry. This process is at the heart of Hampshire's intention and program" (p.xiv). The conceptual inquiry orientation was thought to provide necessary and often neglected analytical skills which students must acquire and about which they must be self-conscious if they were going to be active and independent learners throughout their lives. In addition to this basic goal, Patterson and Longsworth criticized the hegemony exercised by graduate departments over undergraduate education, argued that students must become acquainted with several disciplines in order to gain multiple perspectives on issues, disapproved of organizing faculty by disciplinary departments, and advocated that student study programs should be defined by subject matter rather than discipline. (p.7-8)
III. SOME INDICATIONS OF INTERDISCIPLINARY TEACHING AND LEARNING AT HAMPSHIRE
The first step toward understanding the character of the Hampshire College curriculum is to appreciate that it operates along two distinct dimensions: the course offerings and the examination system. The first of these is the more visible for outsiders. Each semester's Course Guide presents a bewildering array of courses, arranged only by School and divisional level. Courses come and go semester by semester, and there is no discernible pattern to this side of the curriculum.
The logic and coherence of a student's Division II or Division III program is not apparent from the course list and catalog because each student works closely with a least two or three faculty to fashion a Division II concentration and Division III project that make both academic and personal sense for that student...
Before attempting to describe patterns of student work in the examination system, I will look briefly at the course side of the curriculum. Courses at Hampshire are alive and well, although the aspiration to "dethrone the course" has in a sense been realized. Course work is neither necessary nor sufficient for academic progress; courses are not the primary unit of student effort or evaluation. Students in Division II are expected to do significant work outside of the requirements of individual courses, including making overall sense out of their patterns of course participations. Course work in Division III is seldom more than nominal.
Nevertheless, the course certainly has not been dethroned as an important mode of instruction. There is a certain efficiency to exploring interesting ideas with, say, fifteen or twenty students at a time, an efficiency particularly appealing to those faculty with greater-than-average divisional examination responsibilities. But probably more important than this crass consideration, faculty seem to enjoy sharing ideas with groups of students, who, like their teachers, are stimulated and educated by listening to others grappling with new types of understanding...(p.9-10)
One of the especially attractive features of course teaching at Hampshire is the opportunity to teach jointly with one or more colleagues...
The content of the divisional examination side of the curriculum is virtually impossible to portray in an accurate, summary fashion. Concise descriptions of such study are difficult not only because of the individualized nature of the programs but also because of the pervasiveness of disciplinary language throughout academia. Even at Hampshire it is used as a convenient shorthand, even though the content it describes might surprise most disciplinary professionals...(p.11)
...Although the arts stand somewhat apart...the overall picture that emerges from the evidence is one of a truly exceptional amount of interdisciplinary teaching and learning at Hampshire. The formal inter- and multi-disciplinary character of faculty and student work is significant, however, only as the expression of an approach to undergraduate education that recognizes the critical educational importance of the disciplines while not requiring that they constitute its central organizing principles. (p.16)
IV. EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLES AND STRUCTURES THAT ENCOURAGE INTERDISCIPLINARY TEACHING AND LEARNING
1. Consistent with The Making of a College, the stress on conceptual inquiry appears to be accepted and acted upon by the majority of the faculty, including those in the visual and performing arts. This orientation permeates virtually every aspect of the Hampshire academic program, and such phrases as "formulating good questions" and "the structure of the argument" are intergral parts of student and faculty language around the college.
The inquiry approach proposes that rather than transmitting bodies of information and sets of methods, the central objective of undergraduate liberal arts education should be that students acquire habits of conscious, disciplined, and informed reflection and develop attitudes toward learning that include a tempered skepticism, intellectual independence, and the recognition that learning requires an active engagement on the part of the learner. At a very general level these inquiry aspirations are similar to the "mental discipline" goals of the nineteenth-century classical curriculum in that both assume that the mind can be trained in ways that are valuable beyond the specific subjects and methods contained in that training...
Consistent with these aims, most Hampshire students define their study programs in substantive terms, even if they use disciplinary rubrics for descriptive purposes. In a corresponding manner, faculty consider themselves subject-matter specialists. Although not usually defined in disciplinary terms, this subject-matter orientation among the faculty is strong enough that not only are there occasional anxieties about territoriality, but the most innovative aspects of Hampshire teaching appear to be the new definitions of, and connections among, content areas, rather than in pedagogical technique. On the whole it is clear that Hampshire faculty are not as interested in issues of undergraduate education, even its substance and organization, as The Making of a College had hoped...(p.16-18)
2. As noted above, conceptual inquiry at Hampshire has some similarities to the "mental discipline" aims of early-nineteenth-century colleges' classical curriculum. But unlike this classical curriculum either in the nineteenth-century form or in its twentieth-century Great Books format, a fundamental tenet of Hampshire's academic program is that there is no single best subject matter to achieve these aims for all students; instead, the Hampshire argument is that these aims are best achieved through an individual student's pursuit of a set of issues, topics, and questions to which the student has a strong personal commitment. On the other hand, the student's responsibility to defend the coherence of his or her study program at every stage also distinguishes Hampshire's program from the free-elective system in many leading U.S. colleges and universities at the turn of the twentieth century.
This is to introduce a second key element supporting interdisciplinary studies at Hampshire: the central role of student initiative in defining an area for a Division II concentration, formulating a Division III project, and forming faculty committees for advice and evaluation.
...While each student's divisional committee must approve student study programs and has responsibility for shaping and refining them as necessary, the beginning point is set by the student. From courses and conversations, students are often in a position to know of areas of mutual intellectual interests between faculty members who had not been aware of them. It is not unusual for jointly-taught courses and even cooperative faculty research projects to result from a student's acting as a broker in setting up his or her divisional committee...(p.20-21)
3. As anomalous as it may seem, another factor contributing to the interdisciplinary character of instruction at Hampshire College has been the rather elitist pattern of faculty recruitment...The fact that the overwhelming majority of Hampshire faculty have been trained in the nation's most respected disciplinary departments suggests the strong element of self-selection involved in their decisions to come to Hampshire...
While the Five College setting in western Massachusetts is very attractive, there are features of Hampshire which make it decidedly unattractive to faculty with conventional career aspirations. The institution does not offer the security of tenure, it is highly tuition-dependent, and the pursuit of standard professional work is difficult. As a consequence, Hampshire faculty have come to Hampshire in large part because they were mavericks who were attracted by its eucational principles, among which interdisciplinary teaching is one of the most prominent. (p.21-22)
4. From the outside, the organization of the college into interdisciplinary schools rather than by disciplinary departments is probably the most obvious factor contributing to the vitality of interdisciplinary work at Hampshire College...The major importance of the school organization...is that they present no obstacles to intellectually and pedagogically sound interdisciplinary work within the school. Moreover, there are few restrictions to such ventures across schools, because cross-listing of courses jointly taught by faculty in different schools is automatic, Division II and Division III examinations are not school-based, and competition for students by schools has not been strongly encouraged by disciplinary decisions...
Just as in the case of academic disciplines, however, the schools do represent different types of intellectual work, in spite of blurred lines and substantial overlap. At one time or another, each of the schools has had extended discussions about whether a particular substantive area or method was appropriate for the sponsoring school. Nevertheless, the major concern about this has usually been in relation to Division I and the school's responsibility for the integrity of the college's breadth requirement...
Arguing that the schools' intellectual heterogeneity seems at odds with their curricular and personnel responsibilities, there have been a number of proposals to reorganize the schools (e.g., separate the humanities and the arts). While the principles behind these proposals are attractive to everyone who likes neatness and order, the danger of rigidifying along the lines of departments, disciplinary or not, will probably preserve at least a good part of the looseness of current arrangements. (p.22-25)
5. Hampshire College's membership in the Five College consortium is another important support for Hampshire's interdisciplinary program. The number and variety of courses available to Hampshire students gives Hampshire faculty considerably greater latitude in making faculty appointments and designing courses than otherwise would be possible. Moreover, information from Five College enrollment patterns enables Hampshire faculty to identify important areas of student interest not adequately addressed in the Hampshire curriculum and informs decisions in course offerings.
On the other hand, the Five College connection supports the system of individualized student programs by giving students access to an extremely wide array in the coursework component of their Division II work, and thus more ability to define unique and interesting Division II work, and thus more ability to define unique and interesting concentrations...(p.26)
V. TEACHING AT HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE
After ten years of experience, it is clear that the New College Plan and The Making of a College underestimated the amount of faculty resourcefulness, patience, self-confidence and time required to negotiate and renegotiate each step of each student's academic program. The underestimation seems to have stemmed from a hydraulic conception of educational effort which suggested that more academic responsibility for students meant less for faculty. Moreover, the enthusiasm of the faculty and students led, in the first three years of the college, to the creation of an academic program which is even more ambitious than that which was envisioned by the college's planners. This program has changed little in its essentials in the six or seven years since it was developed, and it makes student-faculty ratios of 14.5-16:1 (built into the college's finances as part of the experiment) very high...
Along with the labor intensity of designing student study programs as well as of teaching and evaluating in a dual system of courses and divisional examinations, the inquiry goal of education is peculiarly demanding. It is easier for teachers, with the aid of textbooks, to impart and then test students' comprehension of facts that have been "discovered" than it is to convince students that certainties are at best extremely elusive, knowledge is created, and their active engagement in that creation is necessary for learning. Moreover, because others' findings have to be critically scrutinized rather than recited, students must be induced to take intellectual risks, and making mistakes is a necessary and productive part of students' academic progress. Therefore, the penalties for mistakes are minimal, and each piece of student work has to be assessed with the thoroughness which college and university faculty often reserve only for professional colleagues' efforts. That is, it is inadequate merely to judge students' work with a briefly rationalized letter grade, and a Hampshire faculty member must be prepared for, and even encourage, the submission of one or more revisions. (p.27-28)
Hampshire is certainly not unique in its faculty feeling overworked. But at Hampshire, the faculty's commitment to the type of education the institution represents is so durable that most complaints are directed towards the student-faculty ratio (about which there seems to be little faculty and administrators can do) rather than towards altering the academic program to bring it into line with that ratio. (p.31)
There also is a very effective mechanism which protects academic standards from the pressure, deliberate or not, students can bring to bear on individual faculty members. The same divisional examination system designed to individualize student work requires cooperative work among faculty through the divisional examination committees. The public nature of the divisional examination system for faculty (as opposed to students) means that every decision a faculty member makes about a student's academic progress will be available to faculty colleagues on the student's examination committee. This is true in the case of work done in courses and independent studies as well, even if the course instructor is not a member of that student's committee. This arrangement operates simultaneously as a control for standards and as a source of collegial support for decisions by the faculty member, who may be worried about a forthcoming reappointment review. (p.32)
The openness and flexibility of the Hampshire academic program, the focus of courses on substantive areas not governed by disciplinary prescription, and the frequency of team teaching contribute to a curriculum which continues to be intellectually exciting and educational for teachers as well as students...In addition, the divisional examination side of Hampshire's academic program is a vital element promoting teacher development. As mentioned earlier, these examination committees are collaborative enterprises for faculty, inverting the conventional pattern of collective student programs and individual modes of faculty teaching. The purpose of these committees require faculty to talk extensively to each other about teaching and patterns of student intellectual progress...
The breakdown of teaching privatism carries over to individually-taught courses as well. Faculty frequently invite colleagues in for guest appearances and do not violate a code of faculty conduct when they ask to sit in on a session or so of another's class of particular interest. This type of visiting is qualitatively different from the ominous and disruptive visits by committees charged with judging a teacher's abilities, so often the only way in which faculty directly observe colleagues' teaching in most colleges.
Altogether, these organizational features promote a form of faculty colleagueship and culture conducive to making pedagogical suggestions to each other about style and sequences of presentation, particular materials and strategies, etc. The degree to which faculty feel comfortable about critically analyzing each other's teaching can easily be exaggerated, but over the ten years it does seem to be occurring with greater frequency, supported as it is by the structure of Hampshire's academic program.
Very possibly the most important reason that faculty not only stay at Hampshire but continue to support the consuming divisional examination system is that it appears to work for students, and to work in ways clearly discernible to teachers. The Hampshire examination system requires faculty to observe individual students' academic progress over an extended period of time, and to observe it rather closely. As a result, faculty are able to see the tangible (and often very impressive) intellectual growth by students over two- and three-year periods. This opportunity to appreciate what in faculty eyes at least, is the result of their teaching efforts, is very rewarding for dedicated teachers, and one less available to teachers in course-credit systems where the contact with students is less sustained over time.
While faculty commitment is important for the success of any college's academic program, there are important differences of degree. On a continuum ranging from institutions with relatively teacher-proof curricula to institutions whose curricula essentially are the faculty and faculty-student relationships, it is clear that Hampshire is located at or very near to the latter end. The dedication and intellectual creativity of the faculty have been and will remain crucial to Hampshire's interdisciplinary program continuing to be a vital alternative to and critique of conventional educational thought and practice. (p.33-35)
Hampshire and Pointed Firs: The Employment of Faculty by Term Contracts
David E. Smith. 1981.
1. METHODS AND SOURCES
From spring term 1979 through spring term 1980, and with the support of a grant from the Ford Foundation, I engaged approximately half of my colleagues at Hampshire College in conversations about our unique contract employment system. This is a report on the outcome of those talks and on data gathered from other sources.
...As I talked with colleagues, comparisons were inevitably made with the tenure system that governs the employment of the majority of faculty members in American higher education. I needed to check the attitudes of faculty elsewhere not on a contract system. Though the grant proposal did not call for such interviewing, I did talk to faculty at two other New England colleges. Both are coeducational, liberal-arts institutions of approximately Hampshire's size, and both feature a tenure system and traditional departmental organization.
From my visits to these colleges and the literature on academic tenure, I have fashioned a fictitious college, "Pointed Firs," for use as a foil to Hampshire in this report. Pointed Firs resembles Hampshire in size, location, fees, and the quality of faculty and students, but it differs markedly in other ways. If Hampshire is new and green, Pointed Firs is clothed in ivy. Hampshire has an interdisciplinary organization, Pointed Firs a powerful departmental structure. Hampshire's system of periodic performance reviews and renewable contracts contrasts sharply with Pointed Firs' six-year probation for tenure and the absence of performance reviews after tenure...(p.1)
2. RUNNING THE GAUNTLET AT HAMPSHIRE AND POINTED FIRS.
...The chief differences between Hampshire and Pointed Firs seem to be as follows. At the first level of discussion of a candidate, Hampshire's process requires a thorough review by one's colleagues and students in one's School. This scrutiny includes examination of the candidate's file by every School member and a special meeting at which a vote is taken. At Pointed Firs, by contrast, the chairman conducts a more informal survey at his discretion: there is no collective review of the file, no departmental discussion, no vote.
The Hampshire Schools include student members with full voting privileges. At Pointed Firs, student participation is limited to letters for the file.
Another notable difference between the two systems lies in the radically different makeup of one's Hampshire "School" compared to one's department. In the former, one is judged by colleagues in a variety of disciplines, some decidedly remote from one's specialty. In the latter, due to departmental organization, one is judged primarily by professionals in one's own field, and in particular, by one's senior colleagues. At Pointed Firs the judgments and opinions that count--and are counted--are those of the senior, and predominantly tenured members of one's own department; at Hampshire one's capabilities are judged by a varied group...
At Hampshire, one undergoes review at regular intervals, no matter what one's rank or "seniority." At Pointed Firs, it is a one-time, make-or-break experience.
These are the essential features of the two systems, but to describe them thus briefly cannot do justice to what it feels like to be in and go through one system or the other, and that is what we were trying to find out. We were interested in learning how each system was perceived by those affected by it, and in how these perceptions in turn defined an individual's view of work at each place.
Each system produces characteristic and inescapable anxieties in the faculty. To some degree these anxieties influence faculty relationships with peers and students. There is a close correlation at each college between personal success in the system and affirmation of it. It is no surprise, perhaps, that among tenured personnel, who show a national turnover rate of 1 percent, the overwhelming majority favor the continuation of tenure. It may be more surprising to discover that the majority of faculty members at Hampshire favor a continuation of the contract system.
Finally, we were interested to find little concern about the protections of academic freedom and due process at either institution. At Pointed Firs academic freedom was taken for granted by the tenured, with little concern expressed for the protection of the untenured. At Hampshire, the overwhelming majority of colleagues interviewed felt that academic freedom was adequately protected by due process procedures fashioned by the faculty and adopted by the trustees. (p.7-9)
3. PERCEIVED CRITERIA FOR SUCCESSFUL REAPPOINTMENT
While published guidelines at each college spell out the general criteria for reappointment, faculty at the two institutions differed in their perceptions of how these criteria were weighted and applied.
At Pointed Firs, faculty members on the tenure track disbelieved a policy that claims to value teaching and scholarship equally. Cynicism was aggravated by the demands of the teaching workload...If teaching were heavily weighted in consideration for tenure, there might be less bitterness. But faculty members typically felt that whereas often only lip service is paid to accomplishments as a teacher, one's scholarship, research, and professional growth had to be demonstrated if one were to have a chance for tenure...
Such a focus can deaden the spirit of innovation and change. Often a younger, non-tenured faculty member is expected to staff "innovative" interdisciplinary programs, usually for freshmen, but at the same time is counseled from the sidelines by senior departmental colleagues not to be sidetracked from getting work done on one's own specialty--which is what will "count" at tenure-decision time. (p.10)
At Hampshire College, the document governing reappointment spells out performance criteria in terms like those at mainstream institutions--"professional competence and promise as a teacher and scholar,...value to the college and community." But at Hampshire the criteria are inclusive and construed broadly...Further, a preface to the criteria speaks of Hampshire's "commitment to innovation and experimentation in teaching technique and method, our need for sound advising, our very real encouragement of student participation both in teaching and in the evaluation of teaching."
Veteran faculty members at Hampshire--those who have been at the college since the early years--agreed that reappointment criteria in those years tended to match closely the kind and quantity of work faculty were expected to do at the college. Besides creative, innovative teaching, one's contribution to the "making of the college" counted for much. Indeed, there seemed to be agreement that in the early years of the college, when it seemed that everyone was involved in governance, house activities, and ad hoc study or search committees, one's contribution to the development of the college was being weighted more heavily than scholarly development and output.
A significant minority of the faculty interviewed expressed concern that in recent years--particularly in the past two or three--emphasis had shifted, and that the College Committee on Faculty Reappointments and Promotions (CCFRAP annual reports to the contrary notwithstanding) now values more highly "faculty productivity" and "how one is perceived in one's professional field."...
The most recent annual report of CCFRAP acknowledges "some indications this year of a growing trend towards defining scholarship more and more narrowly along traditional lines, with the number of papers published or in progress being the principal measure of scholarliness." Yet the report goes on to protest such narrow definitions and urges the faculty to "continue to see course experimentation, program development, and other innovations" as being as important as publications....
Of the minority who spoke of this perceived shift of emphasis, some saw it as part of a pervasive variation in the interpretation of criteria. Fairness and one's future are at risk, they said, because those who evaluate a file at each level--School, School dean, CCFRAP, president--differ in their application of criteria and inferences from the file. (p.11-13)
...The Hampshire experience thus far appears to belie two predictions that critics made about the untried system ten years ago. Some said the college would have little turnover, with the effect essentially of perpetuating mediocrity. This has clearly not been our experience. A significant number of faculty leave Hampshire as a consequence of the system's judgement and rigor. Further, the percent of turnover is significantly higher than that for tenured institutions. Finally, there is substantial evidence that the system of review retains not the mediocre faculty but the exceptional teacher, scholar, innovator.
The second fear expressed in the early years of the contract system, and still heard, was in direct contrast to the first: namely, that the system could become arbitrary and irresponsible, with the administration manipulating appointments to be rid of "embarrassments" or critics. It is our collective experience that this has not happened. In my interviews with a wide spectrum of faculty, the majority felt that academic freedom was secure and uncompromised at Hampshire; that if anything, the atmosphere at the college was more conducive and supportive of critical outspokenness than at most tenured institutions; that the college's formal procedures for due process were sound; and that younger faculty (the equivalent of the untenured at other institutions) were more adequately protected than their peers elsewhere.
If there has been anything approaching criticism of the contract system as a threat to academic freedom, it has been linked with the concern some faculty have voiced for the "tyranny of the majority," that a system so grounded in peer review could have the effect of unfairly penalizing someone whose opinions and values run counter to the prevailing liberalism of the place. Another concern has been that, in the strong differences of view that arise between School and CCFRAP, with CCFRAP periodically reversing a School consensus on the worth of a faculty member, individual or strongly provincial interests will be disregarded. The faculty in the arts in particular are very concerned about this problem, perceiving that careful and unique evaluative techniques are required for an understanding of artistic performance, and that the standard repertoire of evaluative assumptions in the review process--many of them "verbal" and "on paper"--may not be adequate to the task. (p.18-20)
5. ANXIETY AND WHAT PRODUCES IT
All systems of employment that include a review-of-performance feature and the possible loss of status, income, or employment can be expected to create some anxiety in the participants, just as an educational system that grants degrees and recognizes merit creates anxiety in students. The question is not whether a system produces stress at certain points, but when, for whom, and for what perceived reasons. I include a discussion of anxiety and stress in this report because it was one of the issues most frequently raised by my informants: the one they would begin with, the one that would often color everything in the interview. (p.21)
As more and more interviews were logged with my Hampshire colleagues, a pattern emerged regarding stress: it is age- and experience-related. Experience here means experience with the operation and definition of the Hampshire review system, not merely career experience in one's own professional life.
If you are relatively new to the system, have not undergone a first reappointment review, and have not participated as a member of a reappointment committee (CCFRAP or the committee in your School), you report high anxiety about the reappointment process. That uneasiness colors everything you say about the system's impact on faculty at Hampshire.
On the other hand, if you have attained the rank of associate or full professor, have been a participant in the reappointment process, and have obtained reappointment twice, your characteristic response to the system would be one of support and cautious affirmation.
What accounts for the intensity of feelings that were readily reported to me by my younger colleagues? And why do those whom we might call "survivors" of the Hampshire contract system report feeling less threatened by the experience of performance reviews? (p.24)
...I noticed three themes appearing with regularity. As the system has emerged over ten years, FILE-BUILDING has become a vital skill...
A second theme is that there are, in practice, TWO REVIEWS. The concern about additional information and opinion leaking into the process at higher levels, after the file has been completed, has been so strong that the faculty recently approved a strong statement about the unacceptability of confidential conversations or communications at any level...
The third concern expressed in interviews poses the question, "On what basis will I be judged by my colleagues, both in my School and by CCFRAP?"...
My subjects emphasized, repeatedly and even fervently, that outside the atmosphere of reappointment reviews, Hampshire was a stimulating and special environment. Indeed, in many conversations with colleagues over that year, genuine and excited enthusiasm was expressed for Hampshire as a place to teach. Clearly this was due, in part, to the fact that unique opportunities arise for open collaborative work with colleagues, and that faculty feel an openness in relations with senior colleagues, Five College colleagues, and with students in the work of learning...
But if faculty interviewed approved Hampshire's across-disciplines, wide-open style, structure, and expectations, they recognized it was specifically this complexity of expectations that created anxiety at reappointment time. The very features that make teaching at Hampshire exciting also account for feelings of unpreparedness and vulnerability at the time of reappointment review...
The reappointment-review process was felt to be not educational. The faculty agreed, virtually without exception, that tying a review of one's performance so closely and directly to a make-or-break contract was "no way to learn or grow." If the planners of the contract-review system had hopes that frequent review would result in "faculty development," the results of my survey would be sobering. Poignantly, most of my subjects said earnestly that they wanted and needed to know how they were doing, how they could improve, what they would be well-advised to do less of, and so forth. Were they good advisors? Lecturers? Thinkers? Co-teachers? Given the "crunch decision" attached to it, the review was not a good way to learn constructively about these things. Too much was on the line. Too much energy goes into the preparation of a "positive file." Too much emphasis is put upon "negative criticism" by those judging the file. Colleagues leave out constructive criticism, or muzzle it, fearing that if it is misread and overrated by committee members, it will be damaging. (p.26-28)
While not precisely a product of the renewable-contract system of employment, WORKLOAD was reported to contribute severely to professional anxiety and must be included in this discussion...(p.29)
6. AFFIRMATION OF AN EMPLOYMENT SYSTEM RELATED TO EXPERIENCE AND CONTROL OF IT
In this section I put forward a fairly simple premise: that there is a reasonably close correlation between apparent successful advancement through a system of employment and one's affirmation of it. The converse would be that those who feel "stuck" in a system, or feel little opportunity, or feel injured by it, will predictably be amongst its chief critics.
At "Pointed Firs" tenure is strongly affirmed by virtually all those who enjoy its benefits, receives cautious approval from those who expect to be rewarded with it, and receives criticism as a system both by those who were denied tenure and by those who either were never candidates or left before a decision was made in their cases...(p.31)
At Hampshire College, I learned that many faculty members anticipating a first reappointment review felt very threatened, even when everything in their record seemed to predict success. Such concerns dominated our conversations and colored them. By contrast, those with considerably more experience of the system spoke with somewhat more confidence. They were fascinated by this alternative without necessarily feeling paralyzed by it. The severest criticism of the system came from individuals who had not done well in reappointment reviews and felt unjustifiably injured...
While Hampshire's "seasoned" faculty recognized and admitted the anxiety the reappointment reviews produced, they could not see how it was to be avoided nor even that it was necessarily destructive. "Every system that attempts to judge quality of performance, reward the meritorious, and penalize the unproductive, will create anxiety," they felt. But, citing a perceived high level of faculty morale--despite an admittedly Herculean workload--these faculty by and large endorsed the contract system. They did not advocate its removal, although they were among the first to see to its revision, reform, and continuing scrutiny. (p.33-34)
SOME CONCLUDING OPINIONS
As with any lively and still-growing institution, one is likely to come up with ten differing views depending on which ten persons--or fifty--are interviewed. What I have attempted to do here in concluding this report is to draw together a number of perceptions of the Hampshire contract system, views influenced strongly by my conversations and interviews, from which representative quotations have been drawn. For those who live and work with the Hampshire alternative, these are what appear to be the questions we must consider... (p.34)
Peer-review within the Schools.
The peer-review system works reasonably well at the CCFRAP level but decidedly does not work well at the School level.
The Schools are not doing the job they need to do, critically. People are perhaps too close; peers do not have the distance to judge dispassionately. The dynamics and interactions of people create intensity, lack of perspective, and the review often reflects personality clashes.
The importance of CCFRAP.
By contrast, CCFRAP is the heart of the system. The reappointment file is "built" through one's associations with colleagues; CCFRAP is the place where the file is "read." We used to count "how many say they loved you." Now more experienced file-readers look for two things: student letters that specify "in class I learned this and this, made connections between x and y, and here's how the teacher helped me..." (instead of just "here was a great personality") and, second, documents in the file that indicate unequivocally what a candidate is doing. Evidence is not limited necessarily to research: it could be syllabi for courses, class materials, new approaches to teaching. The point is, CCFRAP reads this material carefully and critically and asks good questions about it...(p.35)
At Hampshire...the system itself rewards innovation and risk at the expense of more conventional scholarly and teaching behavior. This is not only a part of the official rhetoric of the college, but is perceived in practice to be true... (p.41)
The picture I get of the "senior" or established faculty is of a group that wants to stay in order to continue the experiment, wants enough "permanency" in the structure and in the employment contracts to enable innovation to continue without fear of reprisal, and wants enough settledness in the curriculum to provide for satisfaction and personal and professional development.
What we at Hampshire need to be concerned about in our next decade of change appears to be how to stay informed not only about what works in the employment-by-contract system--what in particular seems to suit it to the Hampshire experiment--but also about what does not work.
Is the seriously high level of anxiety too high a price to pay?
Can we develop a consensus about criteria and apply them evenly throughout the hierarchy of procedures (School-to-CCFRAP-to-president)?
Can we operate the system so as to win a consensus that sound decisions are made fairly and based on satisfactory evidence?
Do we continue to trust the protection of academic freedom and due process where there are instances of grievance?
If the system is clearly not perceived as functioning to enhance faculty development and educational growth, are there other ways of attending to these needs?
...In our next ten years we shall see whether turnover declines and what further changes are made in the contract system. The faculty appears to be persuaded that rigorous, fair, but sometimes painful periodic decisions can be made about colleagues in all ranks, and the faculty essentially accepts the contract system and the responsibility for operating it wisely and well. (p.42-43)
Science Education at Hampshire College with Special Emphasis on Women and Science
Nancy Lowry. 1981.
Hampshire College...undertook during the year 1980 a review of various of its more innovative departures from standard higher education practices in the United States. One section of this review centered on the School of Natural Science. Three aspects in particular of science teaching at Hampshire stand out as demonstrating radical departures from science teaching at other colleges: interdisciplinary instruction, concern for educating women, and strong emphasis on hiring effective classroom teachers.
Interdisciplinary nature of science studies
The early guidelines of science teaching at Hampshire are most publicly spelled out in a working document written in August 1969 by Everett Hafner, the first Dean of Natural Science and Mathematics at Hampshire. Science at the introductory level was meant to be problem oriented with no necessary disciplinary lines. Since all students must engage in some scientific endeavor as part of the requirement for graduation at Hampshire, the benefits of this curricular focus extend to all students...To help foster interdisciplinary inquiry, there are no departments in the School of Natural Science as there are no departments in Hampshire as a whole. All of the scientists are part of the School of Natural Science...and meet as a body weekly to discuss school matters and curriculum design.
In addition, laboratory space at Hampshire is not marked out by disciplinary lines...the main scientific working space is one large laboratory with movable desks. The space is jointly used by students doing biology, biochemistry, geology, chemistry, physiology, environmental science and other science. Physics and computer science have a small space of their own on a different floor near a computer terminal.
Education of women at Hampshire College
In another planning document (Nov. 8, 1968) Professor of Humanities and Arts John Boettiger called together a conference on the education of women at Hampshire College. Professor Boettiger laid out several areas for discussion. Among these were questions centering on curriculum design, hiring of faculty, and residential and administrative considerations. Questions concerning curriculum centered on courses that might be geared for women; further discussion was to focus on differences between the ways men and women learn (if any) and the question - "How can we encourage women to reach outside of stereotypes in their choice of courses." With respect to faculty there were questions discussed concerning the desired proportion of women faculty and whether there should be special tenure arrangements for women faculty.
Hiring of Natural Science faculty
One of the guidelines for the early hiring of faculty centered around the fact that the School of Natural Science, while mindful of the necessity of covering a wide range of scientific areas, and mindful of the need of strong and solid expertise in the traditional disciplinary areas, focused on hiring "people, not disciplines." In other words, there was a strong emphasis on the good (even charismatic) teachers who would bring strength to the classroom not only in their areas of graduate school and professional study, but in teaching method and exuberance for the teaching of the subject. This attention to hiring good teachers has persisted into the more conservative times of today although there is a pressure on the school to become strong by discipline. Discussions concerning the hiring of new faculty still focus on arguments concerning hiring in certain specialty areas where the applicants may not be as strong or hiring enthusiastic teachers in a discipline that may not quite fit our defined needs. (p.1-4)
Status of science education
Science education is much in the news of the 1980s and it will continue to be there...Chemical and Engineering News quotes a...report entitled "Science and Engineering Education for the Nineteen-Nineties and Beyond", a joint report by the Secretary of Education and the National Science Foundation. "The current trend toward virtual scientific and technological illiteracy, unless reversed, means that an important national decision involving science and technology will be made increasingly on the basis of ignorance and misunderstanding."
It appears that two aspects of scientific education in terms of curricular design need to be examined by science educators: the education of the science major is always of interest, but perhaps in these times it is equally important to consider the education of the general public, the non-science major. Science does not have a favorable image among young people...As children grow older and have taken more science courses on the junior and senior high school levels, they think less highly of science than they did when they were younger. The portent, therefore, is that they will be taking fewer college courses in science because many colleges no longer carry graduation requirements in science and interest and trust in science may be too low to bring many students into introductory courses. The challenge is clear, especially for experimenting institutions like Hampshire College. Perhaps Hampshire College in its interdisciplinary approach to teaching science and its assumption that all questions--including scientific questions--are value laden has a key to educating scientifically literate undergraduates.
A review of several years of Hampshire College natural science course offerings is shown in Appendix B. Course titles such as "Freezing in the Dark", "The Physics and Politics of Energy", and "Topics in Women's Health" indicate that Hampshire is indeed involved in teaching of an interdisciplinary nature as laid out in the College's early planning documents. Would it be true that this approach to teaching science not only will appeal to the serious "science student" but also to students as a whole, even non-science students? Will it have an effect on broadening all of our students' abilities to interpret the meaning of scientific data and knowledge so that the use of this knowledge is made from both a factual and a broadly educated base which takes cognizance of the values that scientific decisions carry?
Although the study reported in this paper does not directly deal with this question, the implications that emerge from the data are first that Hampshire may have a foothold in a way to teach science to the general public that may provide an answer to these questions and second that our mission in teaching in the School of Natural Science needs to be, in addition to teaching and developing science students, worrying about the scientific development and background of non-science majors. (p.5-7)
Education of women in science
The role of the education and continuing participation of women in science currently is a very hot issue. The questions--do women take science courses; do women take math courses; do women go into Ph.D. programs; what is the percent of women teaching in various kinds of higher educational institutions; can women do science as well as the men; is science a masculine endeavor--are all taken up at great length in many reviews, books and articles. For example, currently there seems to be a bitter controversy about girls' ability to learn mathematics...(p.7)
The New Scientist reports that in a British study the investigators "found that even in these comprehensive schools where the portion of girls studying science was higher than average girls are afraid of making fools of themselves in front of boys during science lessons."
An interesting question therefore is posed. How has Hampshire College, which was formulated and developed during the very active growing of the women's movement in the U.S. in the late 60's and early 70's responded to the stereotype of the woman scientist? How successful have we been in teaching science to women, in encouraging their curiosity, and in developing their sense of competence in scientific endeavors? How successful have we been in hiring women faculty? And furthermore, what effect have our women faculty in this age of conscious awareness of role models had on our women students? This is the second main question the current report deals with. In fact, as the examination plan rolled along and the interviews stacked up, it became clear that perhaps the most important observation that the School of Natural Science has to pass on to the world is that we have been successful in educating women in science and drawing women into concentrating in scientific areas. As it turned out, the interdisciplinary nature of our studies and the high proportion of women on our faculty are central to the fact that women at Hampshire do not shy away from doing science but sail right in and engage with the material and build up a sense of esteem in an area that society and even they themselves may have defined them out of. One implication of these conclusions is that if we have been successful in overcoming negative stereotypes and negative attitudes on the part of women, we may have the beginnings of a way to deal with a population that as a whole has increasingly negative attitudes toward engaging in science...(p.9-10)
Hampshire Alumni and Alumnae: What they are doing and what they say about the college
Hannah D. Roberts. March 1981.
The world judges a college as much by its alumni and alumnae as by its academic program. Do they pursue the careers and activities they want? Are they admitted to graduate and professional schools? Do they feel their college education has made a difference? What of their education do they continue to use? What do they contribute to society?
Hampshire's alumni and alumnae are young, most still in their twenties. Many have not followed such traditional paths as college-to-graduate school, and then on to a job. Hampshire's founding president, Franklin Patterson, said to a Division III student, "We (the founders) were talking about preparing people to live a life, to approach their life a little better and more happily than they would have. It will be forty years before we know if the college has been a success."
Still a long way from middle age, Hampshire has some provocative--even if incomplete--information about its alumni and alumnae, and they have much to say about Hampshire and its impact on their lives. The alumni portion of the Ten-Year Review is intended to gather and interpret this information...
alumni, both graduates and non-graduates, conclude that Hampshire's promotion of independence and self-reliance is one of its greatest strengths. Hampshire students learn how to learn. This skill, containing elements of self-confidence, self-discipline, motivation, organization and self-evaluation, is found to be very useful in post-Hampshire pursuits. alumni frequently find it is knowing how to learn which enables them to delve into unfamiliar subject areas with little guidance and with confidence, and which sometimes sets Hampshire alumni apart from former students of other liberal arts colleges.
The most frequently expressed concern of the Hampshire alumni is that they may not have received a well-rounded liberal arts education. Two reasons for this may be: early specialization in a field of interest to the exclusion of other fields; avoidance of areas which do not seem interesting or in which one has weaknesses. This question should be examined further at the college.
Hampshire alumni care greatly about the success of the college and the directions it will take in the future. There is a sense of pride and commitment in having been part of the early years of the college. alumni are critical of the college, but the criticisms usually stem from concern for Hampshire's well-being. (p.i-ii)
What do alumni do once they leave Hampshire?
Many alumni continue their education after leaving Hampshire...65% (774) of the alumni responding to the first questionnaire report pursuing post-Hampshire education. The majority of graduates who go on to earn advanced degrees do not enter graduate or professional school directly after Hampshire. They choose to work, gain field experience, or pursue personal interests for a year or two, and then return to school.(p.7)
The alumni who are no longer in school are pursuing a wide variety of careers and jobs...Hampshire alumni are in almost every area of the arts, from dance and theatre performance to clowning, painting, and video production. Many are also entrepreneurs, having started their own performing companies, film production companies, or performing solo. Some represent the traditional "struggling artist"; others are already finding success in their fields. Often they feel the independence and self-reliance encouraged at Hampshire aid them in their struggle.
A large number of alumni become entrepreneurs. They are found in construction, solar energy products, restaurants, fashion, mail order communications, travel companies, bookbinding, clock repair, arts and crafts stores, free-lance writing, computer consulting, energy auditing, interior decoration, and many more fields. The frequency of allusions to independent businesses and freelance work is so striking that we have begun to reanalyze the data to understand this pattern better. Currently, a minority of these alumni attend business school prior to opening their enterprises...
Many who are associated with Hampshire believe that Hampshire alumni tend to be active agents of social change. Survey results confirm that belief. In response to the first questionnaire, 34% of the alumni list social change activities. alumni pursuing social change careers are in such varied fields as: children's rights, energy analysis, alternative energy development, international human rights, Native American legal rights, development of farmers' cooperatives, work with battered wives, and environmental protection. (p.8-9)
Difficulties in making the transition from Hampshire to life after college.
Poor advising and career counseling are frequently blamed for transitional difficulties. Some alumni feel students should be more encouraged to consider what they will do with their academic work after graduation. Difficulties also stem from encountering opinions and values significantly different or less idealistic than those commonly held at Hampshire. "The real world is a bit of a shock (after Hampshire). Feminism, social consciousness, educational libertarianism--what a surprise to learn these are not the social norms beyond Hampshire. But this is not a complaint with Hampshire so much as a complaint with the rest of the world." (p.15-16)
Living and Social Life
alumni in general feel very positive about the living arrangements at Hampshire. The dorms and modules (apartments) are seen as offering viable choices to meet students' individual needs...
The living arrangements, particularly the modules, are viewed as important places for learning to live with others who have different backgrounds, habits and values, making close life-long friendships, creating a sense of family or community, developing life skills (cooking, sharing, shopping, compromising, etc.), developing values, and for learning to relate to members of the opposite sex (not necessarily romantically or sexually, but through the friendships that develop).
For some alumni, the learning that took place in the living or social settings was as important as learning in the classroom. Contrarily, some students who lived in the modules found too much time was spent on household tasks, co-ordinating communal living and working out interpersonal differences. Some complained of a general lack of cleanliness in certain living spaces. Efforts in cooperative living were seen by some alumni to take important time and energy from academic pursuits. Modules can be insular and isolated, detracting from a total campus community.
Greater concern was expressed regarding social life at Hampshire. There were reports of a lack of a campus-wide community. As a result of this feeling, some students tended to experience periods of feeling alone and isolated. Given the independent nature of academics at Hampshire, former students stress the importance of providing a strong community and positive social life...(p.23-24)
Given hindsight, what alterations do alumni suggest for the college?
1. Improve the advising system. This is top priority of both graduates and non-graduates. Special reference is frequently made to Division I. While choice and freedom of program design should remain, some alumni feel that entering students could use more guidance in planning the direction of their education, choosing the appropriate courses, and learning to manage the freedom granted by the institution.
2. Improve the Options Office. alumni would have benefitted from more help with career goal-setting, greater awareness of opportunities in their field, greater awareness of field study and internship opportunities, more contacts outside Hampshire that could lead to post-college employment.
3. Make the student body more diverse. The student body is seen as predominately white, upper-middle-class. alumni advocate more active recruiting of older, third world, foreign and low-income students. alumni would raise the financial aid budget to allow active recruiting of such students.
4. Make sure students get a broad, liberal arts education. Some alumni would like the college to take a more active role in providing a rounded liberal arts program...
5. Hire more faculty; reduce the faculty workload. alumni recognize that a student's success at Hampshire can be dependent on his/her ability to make a connection with one or more faculty members. More faculty and a reduction of the faculty workload would allow students greater access to advisers and divisional committee members. Another hope is that the reduction of the faculty workload would enable faculty to be prompter when writing course and examination evaluations.
6. Generate a greater sense of community. Despite what some view as architectural barriers to community in the layout of the campus, more common space, campus-wide activities, and house activities are viewed as keys to increasing the overall sense of community and reducing the feelings of isolation experienced by some students.
7. Improve the national image. Active effort by the college to heighten national visibility and correct public understanding would be a morale-booster for alumni, as well as an aid in their reception by employers and graduate schools.
Alumni involvement in the college.
With a current body of 3,500 alumni, we are now seeking to develop a full alumni program at Hampshire. As former students of a somewhat unique institution, it is hoped that alumni will stay interested in the college, and will be active in helping Hampshire remain a viable educational alternative for college students...
Alumni willingness to recommend Hampshire is seen as an indication of how they feel about their Hampshire experience, and as a very important way for alumni to continue their involvement with the college from wherever they live...
As most alumni are still establishing themselves in their fields, they are not expected to be able to make huge monetary contributions to the college. However, a very active group of alumni now serve on a fund raising committee. The committee encourages alumni to begin a practice of giving, whatever the size of the gift. Much of their effort has been to bring alumni together socially rather than to increase the number of solicitations.
Other ways alumni are involved with the college include: speaking about their job or graduate school experience with current students, providing internship opportunities, teaching January Term courses, holding regional alumni gatherings, assisting alumni who are moving to their area with job and house hunting, and by attending events at Hampshire. Presently, there are forty-five alumni who have volunteered to be regional coordinators for alumni in their geographical area. As Hampshire has not implemented a "club" alumni organization, the regional contacts are key volunteers. (p.29-30)
In an attempt to learn more about the flavor and texture of the Hampshire experience, alumni were invited to share a particular incident or anecdote from real life that typified their time at Hampshire. The vignettes shared here demonstrate the earnestness, insight and humor with which students typically approach Hampshire, as well as the individual nature of their experiences at the college.
* Having sweated and cried through a year of chemistry at a traditional university, where they tell you the first day that they are going to flunk half of you, I arrived at Hampshire and enrolled in organic chemistry with much trepidation. My lab book from the previous year had been taken away from me and burned so I couldn't pass on the answers to the cookbook experiments, and I was tired of the humiliation and intimidation. Imagine my surprise when I found chemistry at Hampshire to be test-free, cookbook free, and taught by a happy, gentle woman in jeans and stocking feet! Wow! I relaxed, we all played with models a lot, stayed up all night doing fascinating experiments of our own invention, and learned chemistry!!
* As part of my Language and Communication exam I dressed up as a bee and demonstrated bee language. It was a truly lunatic moment, and if I had attempted something of this nature at any other school I probably would have been given a police escort to the nearest state border. I did pass my L&C, by the way.
* My first few weeks at Hampshire yield the following: one morning I emerged from a stall in my Dakin House bathroom and was disconcerted to find my female next-door-neighbor standing there. To cover my chagrin I muttered, "Gee, I've never taken a pee with a girl in the bathroom." She, a seasoned veteran of coed baths, shook my hand and said, "Congratulations!" (p.31-32)