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Programmed instruction is the name of the technology invented by the behaviorist B.F. Skinner to improve teaching. It is based on his theory of Verbal Behavior as a means to accelerate and increase conventional educational learning.


Programmed Instruction

It typically consists of self-teaching with the aid of a specialized textbook or teaching machine that presents material structured in a logical and empirically developed sequence or sequences. Programmed instruction may be presented by a teacher as well, and it has been argued that the principles of Programmed Instruction can improve classic lectures and textbooks.[1] Programmed instruction allows students to progress through a unit of study at their own rate, checking their own answers and advancing only after answering correctly. In one simplified form of PI, after each step, they are presented with a question to test their comprehension, then are immediately shown the correct answer or given additional information. However the objective of the instructional programming is to present the material in very small increments.[2] The more sophisticated forms of programmed instruction may have the questions or tasks programmed well enough that the presentation and test model--an extropolation from traditional and classical instruction is not necessarily utilized.

Programmed Learning

This idea was later adapted by Robert M. Gagné, who invented programmed learning for use in teaching in schools. The difference between programmed instruction (PI) and programmed learning (PL) is that PI is intended to modify behavior, whereas PL is used for teaching facts and skills.

Personalized System of Instruction

Personalized System of Instruction or (PSI), developed by Fred S. Keller, was another idea for how to incorporate programmed learning into the classroom.[3]

Errorless Discrimination

Programmed instruction resulted from early efforts to implement Skinner's basic research findings on learning at Harvard that led to "errorless discrimination"[4] techniques being developed.[5] Programmed instruction had some early success in aphasia rehabilation [6].

Programmed instruction today

While not popular[6], programmed instruction continues to be used today. Recently, the application of programmed instruction principles was applied to training in computer programs [7] [8][9] and combined with Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy to teach college students [10]. Some have argued that there is a resurgence of research on programmed instruction due to use of computers and the internet. [11]

External links


  1. ^ Lewis D. Eigen, Research Paper Number 1, Report of the Center for Programed Instruction, CPS, New York, 1959
  2. ^ Stuart Margulies and Lewis D. Eigen, Applied Programmed Instruction, John Wiley & Sons, 1961
  3. ^ Keller FS (1968). ""Good-bye, teacher..."". J Appl Behav Anal 1 (1): 79–89. PMID 16795164.  
  4. ^ Terrace HS (January 1963). "Discrimination learning with and without "errors"". J Exp Anal Behav 6: 1–27. doi:10.1901/jeab.1963.6-1. PMID 13980667.  
  5. ^ Skinner, B.F. (1968) Technology of Teaching, index
  6. ^ a b Goldfarb R (2006). "Operant Conditioning and Programmed Instruction in Aphasia Rehabilitation" (PDF - entire issue). SLP-ABA 1 (1): 56–64.  
  7. ^ Emurian HH (2007). "Programmed Instruction for Teaching Java: Consideration of Learn Unit Frequency and Rule-Test Performance" (PDF - entire issue). The Behavior Analyst Today 8 (1): 70–88.  
  8. ^ Emurian, H.H. (2009). Teaching Java: Managing Instructional Tactics to Optimize Student Learning. International Journal of Information & Communication Technology Education, 3(4), 34-49[1]
  9. ^ Emurian, H.H., Holden, H.K., & Abarbanel, R.A. (2008). Managing Programmed Instruction and Collaborative Peer Tutoring in the Classroom: Applications in Teaching Java. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(2), 576 - 614.
  10. ^ Crone-Todd, D. F. & Pear, J.J. (2001) Application of Bloom's Taxonomy to PSI. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2 (3), 204 -215.BAO
  11. ^ Eyre HL (2007). "Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction: Was it a Fleeting Fancy or is there a Revival on the Horizon?" (PDF - entire issue). The Behavior Analyst Today 8 (3): 317–24.  


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