Strengthening Learning on the Web: Programmed Instruction and Constructivism

Strengthening Learning on the Web: Programmed Instruction and Constructivism

Karen Smith-Gratto (North Carolina A&T State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2000 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-59-9.ch015
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In the brave new world of cyberlearning, we need to look back as well as forward to create the best learning environments for students. All fields of study require the learning of facts and definitions that have been mediated within that field of study. In addition, individuals must learn to manipulate both information and procedures within any given field to achieve expert status within that field. It can be argued that learning facts is different from learning how to solve a problem within the same field. The mental processes needed to learn facts and those needed to solve problems involve different ways of learning. If we believe that there are different types of learning, then it is logical to assume that different learning theories will contribute more to one type of learning than another. Programmed instruction as developed by B. F. Skinner (1968) was based upon operant conditioning principles. The material to be learned by students is presented in small increments, students are given a chance to answer questions related to the information, given feedback (and reinforcement) and the process continues until the end of the programmed instruction. Earlier computer software tutorials most often followed modified forms of programmed instruction (Poppen & Poppen, 1988), and while Web-based instruction can follow this model, there are basic differences that will result in less designer control than was possible with stand-alone software. Students using Web-based instruction that follows the programmed instruction paradigm will have more opportunity to leave the planned instruction and go elsewhere on the Web. However, the basic principles can be used and combined with constructivism to address learning in different ways.

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