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One objec- tion made by teachers to grading by means of scales is that no two persons get the same results. One must admit that this objection has some merit, but grading by teachers trained until their range of valuation has reached a minimum would certainly beget the respect of all concerned, and would give an excellent basis for the establishment of forms and com- parison of schools, grades and teachers. Such work would also establish many of the favourable and unfavourable points con- cerning a system of schools upon such a basis that there would be no denying them. The average mean variations for the fifteen samples, reduced to the terms of the percentile method, are shown in the following table : Judges. It should also be noted that the judges were not practised in the use of the scales. Familiarity with their use reduces the error to nearly one-half. Starch, therefore, concludes that after some practice in the use of the scale the measurements with either scale are from three to four times as accurate as the valuations made by the usual percentile marking system. The experiments described here are sufficient to answer any criticism of writing scales based upon the fact that no two people will obtain the same results by its use.
This is the real test of the value of the scale as a useful tool for the educationist. The uses to which either the Thorndike or Ayres scale may be put are manifold. They provide a standard by which our judg- ments of to-day may be compared with our judgments of a month hence, with the certainty that the basis of our judg- ment has not altered in the meantime. More important still, they may be used as a very real help in the work of teaching. The pupil, instead of using a perfect copy impossible of at- tainment, is given the quite possible task of raising his pro- duct one step at a time upon the scale. Each step conquered is a very real and visible improvement which provides a powerful incentive to fresh effort. The scales also provide a means of comparing different classes of the same grade, different grades, different schools, or different school systems with respect to the quality of the work done in teaching writing in them.
The use of the scale in school surveys will answer some of the most pressing questions in school administration, e. The facts obtained by a wide use of the scale in this fashion should lift these questions beyond the controversial stage and settle them once for all upon a scien- tific basis. It has been noted that both the Thorndike and Ayres scales, although constructed upon different principles, both paper writer services measure the form or appearance of the writing rather than its legibil- ity. But an analysis of handwriting shows that its chief ele- ments are three in number, viz. The first two are those fac- tors which affect the reader, the last is concerned with the writer. If this is true, legibility is the most important single element in writing, and we should have some method of measuring this factor alone. At first glance, the obvious way of measuring legibility alone would be to measure the time required to read a speci- men as quickly as possible, and then to compute the time re- quired per letter. This, however, would not be accurate when a series of specimens containing the same material is to be measured, as increasing familiarity with the material would cause faster reading despite an actual decrease in legibility.
The apparatus consists of a stop watch and a circular piece of cardboard, 20 cm. A card of this size was chosen because it would cover nearly all the writing of a given sample except what appeared. The holes are just large enough to expose several letters, but not to show entire words or groups of words.
The paper writer services card is placed in any position on the sample to be measured, the number of letters exposed and the time to read them recorded. This is done a second and third time, the card being shifted for each repetition. The average reading time per letter is then computed, and the speed of this gives a reliable measure of the legibility of the writing.
To meet the possible objection that the legibility of letters thrown out of their context is not closely enough correlated with the legibility of words in sensible context to ensure an accurate measurement of the latter by the former, Starch com- puted the paper writer services time per letter required to read ten samples of hand- writing in context, and the time per letter required by the letter exposure method. Three determinations were made by both methods at intervals of about two weeks. In this way he found that the co-efficient of correlation between the two series of measurements was. That is, the legibility of let- ters is practically identical in relative order with the legibility of words in their context. The same test was made with the samples in the Ayres scale. This help writing an argumentative essay test showed an even higher co-efficient of correlation between the two series,.
These tests demonstrate conclusively that the letter exposure method is a highly accurate means of measuring the legibility of a given sample of writing. The method of meas- uring legibility just described is based upon the time taken by an observer to read exposed letters. As long as the same observer does the measuring, there is no difficulty in making a direct comparison of results. If, for instance, the measurements of Starch are taken as a standard it is possible for all other observers to put their 81 results on a common basis with his by measuring the samples given in the Thorndike scale and comparing them with the fol- lowing times of Starch : Reading Quality.
Writing produced by laborious, inefficient movements cannot be produced rapidly.
If it is desired to 82 measure the ease of production of a given group of writers, the best method is to have them write for a definite number of minutes, and then figure out the number of letters produced per minute.
In a test of this nature certain precautions must be taken: (1) The material chosen for the test must be so thoroughly familiar to all the writers that no one is handi- capped by a lack of knowledge of the material. In such a test Starch chose "Mary had a little lamb" as suitable material, for it could be written from memory without a copy or dic- tation to interfere with the natural speed.
Two to three minutes is sufficient to obtain sufficient material for a fair measurement. In fact, it is best to let the class look upon it as a test of memory rather than writing, as in that case the ordinary writing of the child both in quality and in speed will be used. We may now summarize the foregoing discussion of the various methods of measuring efficiency in handwriting.