Methods of Teaching Science- Dalton Plan (Contract study)
M.Sc., M.Ed., JRF & NET
Assistant professor in Physical Science, Arafa Institute for Teacher Education
This strategy was developed by Helen Parkhurst at Dalton High school (and hence the name) in Massachessets, U.S.A. In this Learning activities are organized by providing monthly assignments (or contracts) to pupil. Assignments have to be completed within time period.
The progress of each student is recorded in a separate card meant for him or her. This card is called Job card. The children of various levels will be working in the subject room where each of them gets materials for his work.
Principles of the method
1. The need of freedom in organization
Pupils should be free to work as he thinks fit. This freedom does not imply licence, which is freedom at all, but it does imply that the timetable with its arbitrarily fixed periods of times allotted to each subject shall be abolished.
2. Individual work
There shall be no longer the silence in a classroom which at one time and even yet is usually regarded as one of the signs of good discipline. Pupils must be allowed to move about the room, to consult one another, to ask advice or even to work in coperation. Such collective co-operation towards the completion of a certain purpose gives for more opportunities for the development of the social interest than the usual custom of sitting silently listening to the teacher’s exposition.
3. Self effort
The teacher is constantly referred to for advise only. The pupil should study of self effort only. The pupil should be an active and intelligent in the participation of his education. For that self effort is needed.
4. Importance to Gestalt nature of work
The wholesome name of a particular task enables the pupil for a better result. The pupil should satisfactorily complete the work.
5. The principle of setting goals.
The child is enabled to survey the whole field, to see the goal at which he is aiming at and thus a stimulus is provided to him and he takes up the work bit by bit thereby increasing and ensuring better learning.
Role of the teacher in Dalton Plan
The teacher in the Dalton plan is a ‘helper’. He is a ‘stimulator not a dictator’. His important roles are:
1. Preparing assignments (Contracts) and giving them to the pupils and when required
2. Keeping an atmosphere of study in the room.
3. Giving explanation of any details of the assignment
4. Ensuring that each assignment is finished properly.
5. Keeping full records of the progress
6. Keeping subject library and other equipments up-to-date.
Characteristics of Dalton Plan (Procedure)
1. The curriculum is divided into units of work or assignments (contracts).
2. Pupils contract to complete these assignments in the prescribed time and are at liberty to study the different subjects how and when they please.
3. The progress of the work is recorded by graphs.
4. Subject rooms replace classrooms.
In the Dalton plan, the class teacher, as such plays a less prominent part than before, while the importance of reference books is greater. The teacher must give his help at any time, discuss difficulties, suggest books dealing with topics raised by a pupil, go through and mark the work of each pupil and by help, encouragement, and other ways, must see that each child satisfactorily completes each assignment of work.
The teacher’s graph which should be hung be in his subject room, enables him to keep a check on the progress of each child’s work and to advise or guide whose work is falling behind.
1. Individual teaching: Pupil is permitted to work at his own rate. The plan approaches teaching and instruction from the point of view of the pupil.
2. Continuity of work : There is no waste of time as is usually the case in the conduct of various examinations for promotion.
3. Development of qualities : The Dalton develops qualities like self-effort and self-confidence. There is absolutely no spoon feeding in the Dalton plan. The student should consult suitable books and other reference material.
4. Purposeful learning : Student’s ‘contract’ or ‘assignment’ is like project in front of him and for its completion he tries his best and devotes his heart into the work. Hence learning becomes motivated and purposeful.
5. Development of desirable study habits: The students have to make use of a variety of mateiral to complete their assignments. They have to study reference books and all this helps to develop desirable study habits.
1. It does not give sufficient opportunity for the practice of appreciation and inspiration
2. Unsuitable for the average child.
3. Oral work is discouraged
4. Difficulty of suitable text books.
5. Difficult topics cannot be covered in this method