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What is Teaching Machines

Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
B. F. Skinner is the most current and probably the best-known advocate of teaching machines. Other contributors to this movement include Pressey and Crowder. Noticing that objective tests were becoming common in schools, in the 1920s, Pressey began experimenting with a machine for testing and scoring in his introductory psychology courses. Soon he recognized its potential for teaching and learning. Despite his confidence that the machine he developed would lead to an "industrial revolution in education," this type of machine was never widely used.u
Published in Chapter:
Behaviorism and Developments in Instructional Design and Technology
Irene Chen (University of Houston Downtown, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch023
The theory of behaviorism concentrates on the study of overt behaviors that can be observed and measured (Good & Brophy, 1990). In general, the behavior theorists view the mind as a “black box” in the sense that response to stimulus can be observed quantitatively, ignoring the possibility of thought processes occurring in the mind. Behaviorists believe that learning takes place as the result of a response that follows on a specific stimulus. By repeating the S-R (stimulus-response) cycle, the organism (may it be an animal or human) is conditioned into repeating the response whenever the same stimulus is present. The behavioral emphasis on breaking down complex tasks, such as learning to read, into subskills that are taught separately, has a powerful influence on instructional design. Behaviors can be modified, and learning is measured by observable change in behavior. The behavior theorists emphasize the need of objectivity, which leads to great accentuation of statistical and mathematical analysis.
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Disruptive Technologies and Education: Is There Any Disruption After All?
Teaching machines are devices used to present educational material to a person. The popularity of teaching machines reached its peak during the late 50s and 60s with the advent of programmed education as a result of the introduction of behaviorist theories of education. Teaching machines were suitable for programmed education because they could ‘easily’ present the student with educational materials according to the sequence of the program; this was useful particularly in the training of very specific duties like using Morse code. Teaching machines have taken different forms through time depending on technologies available; some of the very first were electro-mechanical and then electronic, but due to its interactive nature, soon teaching machines based on the computer became predominant. In a way a computer running education software like leapfrog’s different educational programs could be considered to be a teaching machine, but nowadays the term is not widely used and may have negative connotations due to association with behaviorist education.
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Programmed Instruction Resources
Constructions, usually in the form of a box, that allow test items to be presented for students to answer and receive feedback regarding their performance
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