In 1940, a total of 1,500,000 students (16 per cent of the 18–21-year-olds) were in attendance in American colleges. This was before the advent of G.I. education, which brought the figure up to 2,350,000 (24 per cent of the 18–21-year-olds).
These vast numbers of students, presenting a challenge to the present generation of college teachers, are of particular portent to the political scientist. The latter, relying largely in the past on his own interpretation of the subject matter based upon standard texts as “the method” for courses in government, is faced with the problem of mass education; as a result, some of the standard teaching techniques are ineffectual. Under these conditions, to what extent can technological changes in mass communication media which have for the most part been ignored at the college level make a contribution?
Audio-visual materials are available and in standard use in medical schools; teaching operative procedures from a televised performance was a regular part of the last medical convention at Atlantic City. Science equipment consisting of laboratories, museums, Balopticans, slide projectors, and motion picture machines are standard for science departments. Even college budget officers, immune to faculty pressure of various types, are sensitive to the demands of science departments for equipment. Such sensitivity, however, does not apply to the social sciences; budget officers still need to be convinced that social science departments have equipment requirements, beyond an allotment to the library for new books.