Roots and Connections of ISD - 1940s to 1960s
While Ludwig von Bertalanffy created the general systems theory in the 1940's, it took several others to create a set of general instructional/learning/training theories so that others could make the connection between systems and the learning/training process to create the ISD process that we know today.
B. F. Skinner - Behaviorism and Programmed Instruction - 1940s
Although John B. Watson founded behaviorism, B. F. Skinner refined and popularized it. His Walden Two (1948) showed how behaviorism's principles could be applied to society, later, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), an analysis of culture, would become a best seller.
His main principle, operant conditioning differs from classical conditioning in that operant conditioning apples to voluntary behavior, while classical conditioning apples to reflexes. Its influence on ISD in that behavior, in this case learning, can be influenced by manipulating the environment. That is, put the right process in place (system) and you can provide an environment for learning.
Skinner's second contribution is programmed instruction that is characterized by clearly stated behavioral objectives, small frames of instruction, self-pacing, active learner response to inserted questions, and immediate feedback regarding the correctness of a response. Individualized instruction in essence replaces the teacher with systematic or programmed materials.
Benjamin Bloom - Taxonomy of Intellectual Behaviors - 1956
There is more than one type of learning. A committee of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains of educational activities: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Since the work was produced by higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than we are normally used to. Domains can be thought of as categories. Cognitive is for mental skills (Knowledge), affective is for growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude), while psychomotor is for manual or physical skills (Skills). Trainers often refer to these as KSA. This taxonomy of learning behaviors can be thought of as the goals of the training process. That is, after the training session, the learner should have acquires these new skills, knowledge, or attitudes.
For more information, see Bloom's taxonomy.
Robert Mager - Learning Objectives - 1962
Robert Mager's learning objectives is perhaps the key cornerstone of ISD as it gives the system a purpose:
- Observable Action (task) - This describes the observable performance or behavior. An action means a verb must be in the statement, for example “type a letter” or “lift a load.” Each objective covers one behavior, hence, only one verb should be present. If the are many behaviors or the behaviors are complicated, then the objective should be broken down into one or more enabling learning objectives that supports the main terminal learning objective.
- At Least One Measurable Criterion (standard) - This states the level of acceptable performance of the task in terms of quantity, quality, time limitations, etc. This will answer any question such as “How many?” “How fast?” or “How well?” For example “At least 5 will be produced,” “Within 10 minutes,” “Without error.” There can be more than one measurable criterion. Do not fall into the trap of putting in a time constraint because you think there should be a time limit or you cannot easily find another measurable criterion. Use a time limit only if required under the normal working standards.
- Conditions of performance (usually) (condition) - Describes the actual conditions under which the task will occur or be observed. Also, it identifies the tools, procedures, materials, aids, or facilities to be used in performing the task. This is best expressed with a prepositional phase such as “without reference to a manual” or “by checking a chart.”
Robert Glaser - Testing - 1962
Robert Glaser was the first to use the term criterion-referenced measure. Glaser indicated that such instruments could be used to assess student entry-level behavior and thus, determine the extent to which students had acquired the needed behaviors or objectives. Such measurements not only allowed one to test the learners, but also test the system.
Robert Gagne - Instruction Design - 1965
Robert Gagne's Nine Steps of Instruction's gives the system a process:
- Gain attention: Present a problem or a new situation.
- Inform learner of Objective - Allows the learners to organize their thoughts and around what they are about to see, hear, and/or do.
- Stimulate recall of prior knowledge. Allows the learners to build on their previous knowledge or skills.
- Present the material - Chunk the information to avoid memory overload and blend the information to aid in information recall.
- Provide guidance for learning - This is not the presentation of content, but rather the instructions on how to learn.
- Elicit performance - Practice by letting the learner do something with the newly acquired behavior, skills, or knowledge.
- Provide feedback - Show correctness of the learner's response, analyze learner's behavior.
- Assess performance - Test to determine if the lesson has been learned.
- Enhance retention and transfer - Inform the learner about similar problem situations, provide additional practice, put the learner in a transfer situation, review the lesson.
Return to the History of Instructional System Design
Bloom, B. S., Mesia, B. B., and Krathwohl D. R. (1964). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (two vols: The Affective Domain & The Cognitive Domain). New York:
- Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain
- by David Krathwohl (1956)
- Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Book 2/Affective Domain David Krathwohl (1999)
Gagne, R. M. (1965). The Conditions of Learning. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Glaser, R., & Klaus, D. J. (1962). Proficiency measurement: Assessing human performance. In R. M. In R. M. Gagne's (Ed .), Psychological principles in system development. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Mager, Robert F. (1962). Preparing Instructional Objectives. Palo Alto, CA: Fearon Publishers.
Saettler, Paul (1990). The Evolution of American Educational Technology. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., p. 350.