20 January 2015



Programmed  Instruction

Programmed instruction or programmed learning emerged out of the research conducted by B.F. Skinner on operant conditioning   Although Skinner's name is always associated with programmed learning, there were several efforts made earlier by some people in this direction. The Law or Effect propounded by EL. Thorndike (1874-1949) has direct relevance to programming.

According to this law, learning which is associated with satisfaction is likely to be more permanent than learning not accompanied by satisfaction. Satisfaction in the form of reward reinforces the behaviour of the student to take interest in his/her learning. This is an important aspect in programming. In 1926, Sydney L.Pressey devised a teaching machine which required students to press keys to answer multiple-choice questions and the next question was presented only after the correct key had been pressed by the student The idea behind such a teaching machine was that after being exposed to instruction, the student would go through a test presented by a machine and achieve mastery on all the questions (content) till (s)he ceased making mistakes.

The real landmark in the development of programmed learning was the work of B.F. Skinner. After conducting extensive research on rats and pigeons, Skinner developed a theory of learning called operant conditioning. 

  • THEORIES OF LEARNING: E.L Thorndike, Pavlov and B.F. Skinner

  • According to this theory, behaviour is learned only when it is immediately reinforced, that is, when it is followed by some pleasurable event such as food, praise or attention. Therefore, the task of the programmer is to provide contingencies of reinforcement so that the correct responses to the questions presented are immediately rewarded. and the incorrect responses are not Skinner opposed punishment for wrong responses. and recommended that punishment should be kept minimum so that there was no danger of developing a negative attitude towards the learning activity. By applying the principles of operant conditioning in teaching human-beings, Skinner developed an instructional model which is popularly known as programmed instruction. The term 'programmed' is used for arranging learning experiences or events in the most logical and psychological sequence so that the student gets maximum benefit from instruction. 

    Having explained the origin and the concept of programmed instruction, we now present to you the various styles of programmed instruction.

    Styles of Programmed Instruction: 

    There are mainly two styles of programmed instruction - linear and branching. These styles aim at programming of subject matter and are widely used in instructional situations all over the world However, there is yet another style which is used for programming of behaviour. This style is called mathetics. In our discussion, we focus on the first two styles.

    Linear style: 

    The linear style of programming developed by B.F.Skinner is otherwise known as Skinnerian style. According to this style, the subject matter is broken into small pieces of information (steps) and is presented in a logical sequence of small steps. These small steps are called frames. The student is required to go through frames containing a bit or bits of information and respond to the question given at the end of each frame. The feedback in the form of correct answer is provided in the next frame. The frames are so designed and arranged that students' errors are kept to a minimum. In other words, programmed instruction ensures that the student makes/commits minimum errors

    Branching style : 

    The branching style of programming was developed by Norman, A. Crowder. His intention was to use the errors to direct the students to an appropriate explanation or remedial sequence. Therefore, he gave students some information followed by a multiple-choice question and provided a different response for each apparently correct answer (distractor) chosen. Students proceed through such a programme, following different routes or branches and care is taken to ensure that they understand each point before they proceed to the next. There are many similarities between linear style and branching style. However, branching style is different from the linear style. 

    Difference between linear style and branching style:

    There are two main differences between the linear style and the branching style of programmed  instruction.
    Programmed  Instruction, Styles of Programmed Instruction, Linear style, Branching style, Difference between linear style and branching style,  CTET 2015 Exam Notes, CTET 2015 Download PDF File, CTET EXAM 2015 Teaching Methodology Study Material, Online Free CTET exam Preparation

        In branching style the student is presented with multiple-choice questions and (s)he has to select the correct response out of the given choices. Then he is routed through branches according to his response.
        This style is based on explanation and reasoning. Therefore, it has been more effective with brighter students.

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