Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Can Online Course Designers Learn from Research on Machine-Delivered Instruction?

The research that the American behaviorist B. F. Skinner carried out in the mid-twentieth century sheds light on how students learn and what can be accomplished through automated instruction. Approximating one-on-one tutoring, his procedure begins with the determination of what behavior constitutes competent performance. A human tutor then assesses the student’s current level of performance. Building on the student’s existing skills, the teacher guides the student through increasingly complex tasks that Skinner called “successive approximations.” If the student progresses rapidly, the teacher adjusts by assigning more difficult problems or questions. If the student hesitates or makes mistakes, the teacher finds out what knowledge or skills are lacking, goes back a step, breaks the material into smaller steps, or provides hints or other help. This kind of individualized instruction continually adjusts to student progress. more

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