Programmed and Individually Paced Instruction

Using Programmed Instruction

Helen L. Plants

April 13, 1967

Programmed instruction is instruction designed to achieve specific scholastic goals and proven by test to do so. The goals must be specified in such a matter that it can be proven that they have been attained. Post-tests are the instruments by which the programmer measures the degree to which the program has succeeded in meeting the objectives. Students, by using programmed materials have been able to perform very well in our mechanics courses. Each is able to work at his own pace, review as much as is needful and be confident of his results.

Teacher (A Revised Edition)

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

The teacher who uses programmed instruction has a choice of many roles. Each has strengths and weaknesses in both the affective and cognitive domains, but none its clearly optimum. Several roles are described and examined. We have found that students do quite well - better than on lectures only. The grade distribution for students on probation was the same as that for students who had satisfactory records. An experiment with "mastery learning," and the development of Elastically Structured Teaching are described.

"Teaching Engineering through Programmed Instruction"

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

Engineering Education, March 1971

A look at strategies for effective use of this educational tool.

"A Long-Term Study of Programmed Instruction in Mechanics"

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

Moderne Methoden und Hilfsmittel der Ingenieurausbildung, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, 1978

For more than ten years the faculty at West Virginia University have been involved in writing validating, and testing programmed instruction in mechanics. During that period of time, the tests and validation have involved more than twenty teachers and several thousand students, and the production and revision of the programs has required almost the entire effort of two faculty members. Three full length programmed texts have been produced and revised after student trials. The text validation and revision process has been reiterated until the texts are now considered essentially finished. In addition, a system for using these programs in class has been gradually perfected. Since 1973 an ongoing series of tests has shown the students studying the programs to have scored significantly higher on the final examination than have those students studying the same courses taught in the traditional manner.

"Programmed Instruction Is Alive & Well in West Virginia"

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

Engineering Education, February 1985

In the fall of 1962 the first programmed instruction module was introduced in a Mechanics of Materials class of about 30 students at West Virginia University. Today, 22 years later, 406 students in 13 sections of Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials are taught exclusively from programmed texts, while 233 in eight sections study the same subjects in the traditional manner. It has survived many changes of personnel. Programmed instruction has had the support of five different chairmen of the mechanical engineering department and of four different deans. It has involved dozens of faculty, more than a hundred undergraduate tutor/graders, and a cast of thousands of undergraduate students. Most important, the program has been directed by four different faculty members and has survived the retirement and departure of its originator.

"Programmed Instruction vs. Conventional Instruction"

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

Engineering Education, December 1975

Since the fall semester of 1973 the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at West Virginia University has been engaged in a massive study comparing the achievement of students taught using programmed instruction in a specially designed educational system to that of students taught by conventional lecture methods. The study has involved two courses, 12 teachers. 28 classes, and over 800 students. Achievement was measured by performance on common final examinations. The performance of the students using programmed instruction is significantly better than that of students taught by conventional methods

"Does How You Teach Make A Difference?"

Charles E.Wales

Engineering Education, February 1979

This article describes Guided Design, which was implemented in a new six­credit freshman engineering program at West Virginia University in 1969. Since that time, the number of students graduating from the college has risen by 32 percent and the graduation grade point average of these students has been 25 percent higher than that of a control group.

"Programmed Instruction Closes Two Generation Gaps"

Charles E. Wales, Associate Professor of Engineering, Wright State University

Engineering Education: March 1969

Two generation gaps exist in today's engineering college. The first gap is between the faculty who believe engineering is primarily related to design and the faculty who believe engineering is primarily related to science. The gap between them grows as they struggle to squeeze both design and science into an already bulging curriculum, ending with an uneasy compromise of separate science and design course work. The second generation gap separates the faculty and administration from the students. The trouble is the fact that the faculty at big universities are too busy doing everything except teaching. There is a solution: a new course design, built around programmed instruction, which combines both science and design work in each course. Programmed instruction is used to transmit basic information to the students outside of class, leaving class time free for meaningful student-faculty interaction.

Individually Paced Instruction

Wallace S. Venable

Proceedings of the North Central Section of ASEE - 1971

Learning is something which takes place on an individual basis. Today a small but rapidly growing group of teachers is running class room experiments with educational systems in which each student is permitted to work his way through a structured course at his own speed. If students are given carefully prepared study guides, they can achieve a high level of mastery of college material without classroom presentation of information, and if they are required to demonstrate their achievement unit by unit before proceeding, they will consistently meet high standards.

"How To Begin In Individualized Instruction"

Helen L. Plants

Chapter 5, Individualized Instruction in Engineering Education, Lawrence P. Grayson and Joseph M. Biedenbach, editors

The try, learn, and try again attack seems to have been the way that the majority of those active in individualized instruction began. It is, admittedly, a brash and optimistic approach, but it seems to result in satisfaction for both the teacher and his students. This chapter will presume this strategy and deal with the details of implementing it and of optimizing its chances for success.

Elastically Structured Teaching - Programmed Instruction, Contingency Management, and Group Pacing Combined

Wallace S. Venable, Russell K. Dean, and Helen L. Plants

1982 International Society for Individualized Instruction Conference, Purdue University

Engineering Mechanics courses at West Virginia University have been taught with Elastically Structured Teaching (EST), combining programmed instruction, contingency management, and group-pacing since 1966. This system is used in three courses which currently have a total enrollment of about 1200 students per year. As with any educational system, EST has undergone a process of evolution. As more and more material was prepared it became practical to give increased opportunities to students to adjust their individual pace when necessary. While the system is basically group-paced, with about 80% of all post tests being taken in class, students with non-academic troubles are given essentially unlimited freedom to make-up work. A learning center was established to provide a place for test taking outside class. Students were given the opportunity to retake some low marks, and an early completion program was established for those willing to self-pace on a greatly accelerated set of deadlines. About ten years ago the authors decided to try offering these courses on a self-paced, mastery basis. Students, instructors, and tutors alike found the self-paced format to be more demanding and there was no increase in performance.

"Elastically Structured Teaching With Study Guides"

Subhotosh Khan and Russell K. Dean

1980 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Studies conducted at West Virginia University show that sections studying under programmed instruction (PI) in Elastically Structured Teaching (EST), perform significantly better on the departmental final than the sections studying under lecture instruction. Writing and reproducing programmed instructions is a costly and time consuming affair. Study guides, administered in EST, cost much less. The problem that will be studied in this paper is the question of whether study guides are as effective as PI. If the study guides are less effective, then the question is whether or not they are more effective than lecture.

Two Measures of Self-paced Instruction

Wallace S. Venable and Helen L. Plants

American Society for Engineering Education - 1972 Annual Conference

An experimental comparison of self-paced instruction and group-paced instruction was made in which students under both methods used identical study materials. Both groups used the same programmed instruction texts, took similar quizzes and examinations, and had the same instructors. Differences between the methods in examination performance were insignificant. A comparison of the results of this study with earlier tests of the programmed materials indicates that self-paced instruction is an effective teaching method but it is not uniquely effective.

"Programmed Instruction: Key To Engineering Education For Tomorrow"

Charles E. Wales, Assistant Professor Of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

Engineering Education, February 1967

This paper describes a very early effort in developing programmed instruction for an engineering thermodynamics course. Objectives, frames, and cases for classroom discussion on the Ideal Gas Law are included.

Introduction To Statics - Teacher's Guide

Helen L. Plants and Wallace S. Venable

West Publishing Company, St. Paul, 1975

This is a supplement to the full-length programmed textbook Introduction To Statics. It is a book of suggestions, objectives, and sample post-tests, not a "solutions manual."