Teaching machine technology: The state of the art

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<ul><li><p>TEACHING MACHINES AND </p><p>PROGRAMED INSTRUCTION </p><p>TEACHING MACHINE TECHNOLOGY: </p><p>THE STATE OF THE ART </p><p>Leonard C. Silvern </p><p>The author is Education and Training Research Director of Video- sonic Systems, Hughes Aircraft Company, Culver City, California. Dr. Silvern is also chairman of the Committee on Teaching Machine Technology of the American Society of Training Directors, which is collaborating with the Joint AERA-APA-DAVI Committee. (See AVCR 9: 4: 206-08; July-August, 1961). This article is based on a paper he presented at a special conference on teaching machines and programed learning, sponsored by the American Management Associa- tion, in August 1961. </p><p>T RAINING IN INDUSTRY BEGAN wi th the need and opportunity to learn a trade, customarily through apprentice- ship. The New York Central and Gen- eral Electric were among the first to have both shops and company schools for apprentices where technical instruc- tion was given during working hours. By 1913, a number of these programs were broadened into corporation schools for employees other than apprentices; from these the National Association of Corporation Schools was formed. This society merged in 1922 with the Indus- trial Relations Association to form the National Personnel Association, and from it, the following year, the American Management Association emerged (4 and 18). </p><p>One of the most important outgrowths of training experience in World War I was the realization that to train effec- tively it was necessary, first, to deter- mine by a careful analysis of the work to be done, the skills and information which the employee must be taught (12). Charles R. Allen is credited with two extremely significant contributions to training methodology which rank with the history-making efforts of Pres- sey and Skinner (25). Both of these techniques--it will be shown later on here form the foundation for what is now called programing (22). In 1910, Dr. Allen began to formulate a sys- tematic approach to vocational educa- tion and training. It was not until 1917 that, as director of education and train- </p><p>[204] </p></li><li><p>TEACHING MACHINES 205 </p><p>ing of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, he could implement his methods of job analysis and the principles of instruc- tion incorporating preparation, presenta- tion, application, and test (30). In 1918, Dr. Allen's book, The Instructor, The Man and the Job, not only established analysis as a necessary prerequisite to effective instruction, but also stated the principles which, in World War II, be- came known as the "Four-step Method." Of these steps, "presentation" is most interesting because it was generalized in 1941 thusly: " . . . instruct slowly, clearly, completely and patiently, one point at a time . . . question and re- peat . . . make sure the learner really learns" (30). </p><p>Pioneer Job Analysis </p><p>Dr. Allen did not continue alone. He was joined by Frank Cushman, then federal agent for industrial education, and in 1919 they produced the first job analysis for a complete trade. This was termed an "epoch-making pioneer study" by Struck of Pennsylvania State, himself a leader in vocational education and training (28). Regrettably, 1919 to 1940 were standstill years in that they brought no widespread use of these methods in business and indus- try (30). </p><p>Later, in World War II, Frank Cush- man, as Commander and Head of the Training Branch, Division of Shore Es- tablishments and Civilian Personnel, U. S. Navy Department, continued to en- courage the systematic approach which he had developed in World War I with Dr. Allen. It was during this period that the writer fell directly and intimately under the influence of Cushman's phil- osophy of job analysis and lesson plan- ning (25, 8, and 21). </p><p>Identification of New Technology </p><p>Those with technical and scientific backgrounds tend to introduce a new subject with definitions expected to provide a common foundation and lan- guage that will permit the communica- tion of concepts, principles, and methods described by the terms being defined. However, a quick review of the aca- demic background and experience of the practitioners and leaders in this emerging field reveals an extremely wide spectrum. Is it possible that the disci- plines represented by the physicist, elec- trical engineer, statistician, attorney, educator, psychologist, journalist, audio- visualist, public accountant, and business administrator will allow for agreement in these early days? No; rather, new terms and definitions have been tumbling out of the pertinent literature as rapidly as the machines, mechanisms, and mon- strosities that companies as users are expected to procure, and with the same degree of confusion and contradiction. </p><p>Where is the systematic philosophy so badly needed to bring some uni- formity to terms, definitions, and meth- ods (26)? Because the technology is so new, agreement has not yet been reached on even elementary terminol- ogy. It is expected that the kind of problems which led ultimately to the factory system and interchangeability of parts through the now generally ac- cepted methods of drafting and design standard symbology, linear and weight measurement, surface finish, fits and compositions of alloys, will descend upon us. Let us hope that the user will expect and demand that mechanisms and curriculums do not go through the pain- ful step-by-step evolution typified by the industrial revolution. The art will flourish if the standstill years of 1919 </p></li><li><p>206 AV COMMUNICATION REVIEW </p><p>to 1940 are not duplicated. At the other extreme, uncontrolled and random ac- tivity, even of a seemingly professional nature, is as devastating as the inertia in the years between the wars. The Art of Instruction </p><p>Human learning occurs in a con- tinuum beginning at birth and ending at death. Learning, in this sense, may be described as the understanding, acquisi- tion, retention, and transfer to real life situations of certain knowledge and skill. </p><p>Not all learning is formal much of it is informal, consisting of casual, ran- dom, non-structured exposures and ex- periences. Though line supervisors and operating managers are, of course, con- cerned about informal learning, this pa- per is concerned with the formal organi- zation necessary for efficient human learning in work environments, not with the control of employees in informal learning situations. If formal learning is analyzed, its first stage of differentiation is seen as education and training. </p><p>If we describe education as the life- long process, or organized maturation, of the whole man to face and solve the problems of living in his society, we may next differentiate training as the short- term process of preparing youth and adults to face and solve specific and narrowly-bounded problems. In com- panies, the problems are immediate, and the training must be short and intensive. In most situations, training is provided and accepted by the employee with the argument that it will upgrade his knowl- edge and skill, and thereby be remuner- ative (22 and 30). Implicit in this definition is the requirement that the employee be rewarded, and also that management be expected to profit as a result of its investment. </p><p>Since the inception of training in the business and industrial setting in the early 1900's, instruction has been a means of communication essentially characterized by a "man-men" relation- ship. </p><p>Dr. Allen's "Four-step Method" which became prominent in World War II as the "JIT" or Job Instructor Training program was a technique which called for one employee or learner to be in- structed step-by-step by one supervisor or instructor (16). This constituted a "man-man" relationship, and in one sense as a training technique was simi- lar to the role played as an education technique by the tutor. Industry soon found that the efficiency of the human instructor's communication could be im- proved by the use of such familiar cur- riculum materials as the textbook, work- book, and text-workbook which in the trade areas included the operation sheet, job sheet, information sheet, and assignment sheet. Further improvement seemed to result from the judicious utili- zation of audiovisual aids or training devices. These were fundamentally in- structor-centered in the sense that they were aids to the human instructor's communication. </p><p>Human instruction is an ar t . . , and as an art practiced by individuals, it has improved. A systematic body of knowl- edge representing behavioral science was also developing, and it became in- creasingly clear that new, non-human methods of instruction appeared as effi- cient as some traditional techniques (17). The human-instructor for a spe- cific lesson and possibly a series of les- sons could be displaced--not replaced - -by the machine-instructor. </p><p>Earlier, it was pointed out that agree- ment is still to be reached on teaching </p></li><li><p>TEACHING MACHINES 207 </p><p>machine terminology. Yet, it is possible for one to continue to work in a tech- nology without a precise or complete vocabulary. Therefore, in the absence of an approved definition, let it be agreed that the machine-instructor is the teaching machine which presents a lesson consisting of information, actions, or objects in a prescribed sequence which are understood, learned, and re- tained by a learner completely without the presence of a human instructor, and in which there is an interaction of learner and machine. This entire process is characteristic of the man-machine or, </p><p>The Art oJ Machine-Instruction Certainly there must be criteria which </p><p>differentiate machine-instruction from human instruction. While still being formularized, the elements which in the aggregate are believed to constitute the criterion (16 and 7) are these: </p><p>1. instruction is provided without in- tervention by a human instructor; </p><p>2. learning occurs at the learner's rate; </p><p>3. the learner receives immediate knowledge of his progress; that is, feed- back from the machine (measured in seconds) ; </p><p>4. there is a participative, overt in- teraction between learner and machine; </p><p>Figure 1--General purpose teaching machine </p><p>Learne </p><p>Machine instructs learner visually and aurally, then pro- vides question or problem. </p><p>Learner uses instruction to conceptualize answer or solve problem (work; mental-manipulative). </p><p>Learner decides upon answer or solution; goes on to the next incremental instruction. </p><p>Work </p><p>better, the learner-teacher machine rela- tionship. Unlike traditional instructor- centered environments, the learner is the only human in the man-machine sys- tem, and the system therefore, is ob- viously "learner-centered" (16). </p><p>5. subject matter, identified as a se- quence of teaching points which are syn- thesized to form whole lesson plans, is carefully controlled and consistent; </p><p>6. reinforcement is used to strengthen learning. </p><p>A teaching machine, therefore, is not </p></li><li><p>208 AV COMMUNICATION REVIEW </p><p>merely a machine which teaches or com- municates- i t must operate according to the criteria established for it (7). Among the areas of current investiga- tion is one which deals with overt and covert interaction between man and machine. Overt responses by the learner fall into these modes in the general- purpose teaching machine (19 and 23): (a) multiple-choice (recognition); (b) written-completion (recall); (c) oral- completion (recall). </p><p>Figure 1 shows a man-machine sys- tem diagram which describes a general- purpose teaching machine. </p><p>It has become virtually a requirement - -a t least in the lesson-planning stage-- for all learner responses to be recorded automatically or scored by use of a scorer device. </p><p>Covert responses, on the other hand, are typified by a similar relationship ex- cept that step 4 is absent and step 5 is </p><p>modified. Since a participative, overt in- teraction does not exist, and since scor- ing of a response that is merely thought is not yet possible, a man-machine rela- tionship involving covert responses does not represent a true teaching machine environment. </p><p>Figure 2 is a man-machine system diagram describing a device which dis- plays information to a learner sequen- tially and incrementally, but which is not a teaching machine even though learning may result (14). </p><p>There has been some reference made to job aids or performance aids. The statement that these are teaching ma- chines "designed to gain 2 to 1 increases in industrial product iv i ty . . , to achieve a 10 to 1 reduction in production errors and scrap in complex assembly opera- tions" was published recently (2). This statement is not just misleading; it is erroneous since the criteria estab- </p><p>Figure 2roMan-machine device that is not a teaching machine </p><p>l </p><p>Learner i, </p><p>( ) </p><p>Work </p><p>~t </p><p>A v </p><p>Machine Machine instructs learner visually and aurally, then pro- vides question or problem. </p><p>Learner uses instruction to conceptualize answer or solve problem (work; mental-manipulative). </p><p>Learner decides upon answer or solution. </p><p>Learner informs machine by a. multiple-choice b. written-completion c. oral-completion. </p><p>Machine verifies or has learner verify response and feeds this back to learner. Learner may repeat, branch or go on to the next incremental instruction depending upon curriculum design. </p></li><li><p>TEACHING MACHINES 209 </p><p>lished for the teaching machine, when applied, are not satisfied. Perhaps this denial is a matter of semantics but re- gardless-once we have established the criteria--those methods which do not satisfy it should be known by some other name. Figure 3 is a man-machine system diagram describing a typical per- formance aid. </p><p>It should be noted that the method informs rather than instructs since the goal is work rather than learning. Again, we define learning as the acquisition, understanding, and retention of knowl- edge and skill for transfer later to real- life situations. While some learning does occur in this system, it is random and casual rather than directed and explicit. </p><p>The Art of Lesson-Planning </p><p>Allen and Cushman pioneered job analysis in the 1900's; because of their work, the art of lesson planning for human instruction in training developed. The lesson plan was actually an educa- tion invention of Johann Herbart (1776- 1841) who also provided a systematic approach to education by establishing the "Five-step Method" of preparation, presentation, comparison, generalization, and application. Allen had, in essence, adapted Herbart's philosophy to voca- tional and industrial education (11 ). Herbart's principles were sufficiently popular for the National Herbart So- ciety to be formed in 1895 at Illinois State; later it was renamed the National </p><p>Figure 3--Work, not teaching, is the goal of this machine </p><p>Employee Machine </p><p>Machine informs employee visually and aurally. </p><p>Employee performs work in prescribed manner. </p><p>Employee decides work is completed; upon command, machine proceeds to the next incremental step. </p><p>Work </p><p>The fact that a human may learn as the result of exposure to any machine does not attest to a teaching machine environm...</p></li></ul>