Definitions of Programmed Learning:
Smith and Moore (1962): Programmed instruction is the process of arranging the material to be learned into series of sequential steps, usually it moves the students from a familiar background into a complex and new set of concepts, principles and understanding.
Jacobs and others (1966): Self-instructional programmes are education materials from which the students learn. These programmes can be used with many types of students and subject matter, either themselves, hence the name “self-instruction” or in combination with other instructional techniques.
Espich and Williams (1967): Programmed instruction is a planning sequence of experience, leading to proficiency in terms of stimulus responses relationship, that have proven to be effective.
Susan Markle (1969): It is a method of designing a reproducible sequence of instrumental events to produce a measurable and consistent effect on the behaviour of each and every acceptable student.
In conclusion, the above definitions may reveal the things given ahead regarding the meaning, nature and characteristics of programmed learning.
Characteristics of Programmed learning
- Programmed learning is a method or technique of giving or receiving individualized instruction from a variety of sources such as programmed textbook, teaching machine, and computers with or without the help of a teacher.
- In this technique, the instructional material is logically sequenced and broken into suitable small steps or segments of the subject matter, called frames.
- For sequencing particular unit of the instructional material, the programmer has to pay consideration for the initial or entry behaviour of the learner with which it begins and the terminal behaviour or the competence which the student is required to achieve.
- In actual operation, a frame (a small but meaningful segment of subject matter) is presented to the learner. The learner is required to read or listen and then respond actively.
- This learning system has an adequate provision for immediate feedback that is based on the theory of reinforcement.
- It is the interaction between the learner and the learning material or programme that is emphasized in the programmed learning. Here the student is actively motivated to learn and respond.
- It provides self-pacing, thus learning may occur at individual rate than general, depending upon the nature of the learner, learning material and the learning situations.
- It calls for the overt responses of the learner that can readily be observed, measured and effectively controlled.
- It has the provision for continuous evaluation that may help in improving the student’s performance and the quality of programmed material.
On the basis of these features, programmed learning may be defined as:
“Programmed learning is a systematically planned, empirical established and effectively controlled self-instructional technique for providing individualized instruction to the learner through logically sequenced small segments of the subject matter by using the principles of operant conditioning and schedules of reinforcement.”
The fundamental principles associated with a good programmed learning strategy are summarized below:
- Principles of small steps: This principle is based on the basic assumption that a person learns better if the content matter is presented to him in suitable small steps. Therefore, a programmer while preparing a programme should try to arrange the subject matter into a proper sequence and in meaningful segment of information, called frames.
- Principle of active responding: The principle rests on the assumption that a leaner learns better by being active. In programmed learning, the learner may remain active if he responds actively to every frame presented to him. Therefore, a good programme should actively involve the learner in learning process.
- Principle of immediate reinforcement: The psychological phenomenon of reinforcement is the basis of this principle. One person learns better when he is motivated to learn by receiving information of the result just immediately after responding. Therefore, in a good programme, appropriate consideration is always made for the provision of immediate reinforcement by informing him about the correctness of his response.
- Principle of self-pacing: Programmed learning is a technique of individualized instruction. It is based on the basic assumption that learning can take place better if an individual is allowed to learn at his own pace. The programming of the material should be done in view of the principle of individual difference and the learner should be able to respond and move from one frame to another according to his own speed of learning.
- Principle of student-testing: For better learning, it is important to seek continuous evaluation of the learning process. The principle of student testing meets this requirement. In the programmed learning, the learner has to leave the record of his response because he is required to write a response for each frame on a response sheet. This detailed record helps in revising the programme.
Types/ Styles of Programming
In programmed learning, the presentation of instructional material or subject matter to the learner in a suitable form is termed as programming. Following types of programming have emerges on account of researchers and experimental studies:
- Linear or extrinsic programme
- Branching or intrinsic programme
- Mathetics programming
- Ruleg system of programming
- Computer-assisted instruction
- Learner controlled instruction
The first three styles i.e. linear, branching and mathetics; represent the actual basic formats. The Ruleg system represents the deductive and inductive approaches in teaching. The other two styles i.e. computer-assisted instruction and learner controlled instruction are the ways and means of providing instructions and not the special or basic format of the programming.
In programming, usually the programmer makes use of the basic formats i.e. linear, branching or mathetics for developing programmes suitable to computer or learner controlled instructions.
Advantages & Applications of Programmed Learning
- Programmed learning may help individualizing the instructional process. The scope of self-pacing gives opportunity to the students for learning with their own speed without obstructing the path of others.
- It provides feeding material to the self-instructional devices such as computer, teaching machine and programmed text. Such devices help the students in the task of self-learning, solve the problem of paying individual attention, solve the problem of dearth of trained and effective teachers and also help in revolutionizing, developing and providing the techniques of self and mass-education.
- It may free the teachers from the hard labour and complexities of routine classroom activities. It may help them bear a larger load of the students and devote their time to more creative activities.
- The social setting of the classroom may be properly improved and the problem of discipline gets solved automatically with the help of programmed instruction.
- It may be useful in the enrichment of curriculum and thereby, in the education of the exceptional children.
- It may be effectively used in providing guidance and remedial instruction.
- It helps in the development of interrogative, judgemental and creative learning. The power of discrimination and making immediate and effective response is developed through such instruction.
- It proves an effective teaching strategy on account of the following:
- The content may be thoroughly analysed and presented in suitable steps and logical sequences.
- The instructional objectives are set properly.
- Reinforcement and feedback are properly provided.
- The learner gets opportunity for self-assessment of his performance.
- The learner is actively involved in the task of learning. Sufficient motivation, sustained attention and interest is provided to learner.
Thus, programmed learning may prove to be a big helping hand in all the task and aspects of education. It always works for providing assistance to the teachers, students and educational administrators for playing their roles more effectively in a more systematic and organized way for realizing specific instructional objectives and broader educational purposes.
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