Programmed instruction is a new innovation which is the result of the experimental study of the learning process in the psychological laboratory. It is in fact, the first application of laboratory technique utilized in the study of the learning process to the practical problems of education.

Background of Programmed Instruction:

The traces of programmed instructional work can be found in the works of Socrates who developed a programme in Geometry. Comenius and others also contributed to its development. In 1920, Sydney L. Pressy, an American psychologist, devised practical machines for instructional purpose but it did not attract much attention.

Skinner’s Work:

The movement gained impetus after the publication of an article by Dr. B. F. Skinner entitled, “the Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching’ in 1954, which gave an immediate reinforcing teaching device. He experimented with pigeons. He was convinced that once a desired behavior is reinforced it is more likely to re-occur. As the action is mastered, reinforcement is given with less frequency. Skinner gave it the name operant conditioning.

Work don after Skinner:

Since Skinner’s presentation, much work has been done on programmed instruction / learning. During the last few years, a flood of literature on automated teaching has been made available in both America and Great Britian. Day after day, teachers, psychologists, publishers and commercial firms interested in teaching machines are moving ahead with making this device most sophisticated. No wonder, machines at present in use will probably appear crude in a short span of time and many new developments will take place in programming.

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