Response mode and reinforcement in programed instruction



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The study concerned itself with how the response made to the item or question affects post-test performance In programed instruction. A review of the literature showed little support for the idea that active participation in responding to programed material produces superior performance. Also, it was demonstrated that passive groups took considerably less time completing programs then active groups. The writer hypothesized that if a long, well-established program were used in a course of instruction, active participation would produce significantly superior test performance. A portion of a well-established program in psychology was used to replace a portion of the usual lecture in two introductory psychology sections. One hundred thirteen students were randomly assigned to four groups; overt, which wrote out answers and confirmed them; covert, which thought answers and confirmed themj optional, which wrote out answers and confirmed selected ones; reading, which simply read items with the correct answers underlined. The program was separated into five equal parts, which were presented during consecutive class meetings. At the sixth meeting a post-test was given, consisting of twenty-five constructed response and twenty-five multiple choice items. Also at the sixth meeting an interest questionnaire was administered. The active participation groups scored higher on the post test, the differences being significant at the .01 level for the total post-test and the constructed-response items, and at the .05 level for the multiple-choice items. Post hoc analyses by Scheffe's method showed the difference between the test scores in the active participation groups and the scores in the reading group to be significant at the .05 level, for both the constructed-response items and the total test. On the multiple-choice portion the difference was non-signifleant. In comparing the time scores the reading group offered a saving in time, the "F" being significant at the .01 level. By Scheffer method, the difference between the average time of the active groups and the reading group was significant at the .05 level. Analysis of the fixed-response questionnaire data showed the students: 1) liked programed instruction less than traditional methods? 2) felt they learned more from programed Instruction than from traditional methods? 3) were less Interested In programed instruction than in the usual presentation? 4) felt they would like to have some parts of future courses taught through programed instruction. From the open-ended responses certain aspects of student's feelings about programed Instruction were uncovered. Important dimensions for students having negative feeling toward programed Instruction were? lack of stimulation, no opportunity for instructor-class Interaction, material organization. Those who had positive feelings about programed instruction liked the way It was organized. Students who felt; they learned more through programed instruction felt it was due to repetitiveness and organization, while those who felt they learned less complained about the organizatlon. It was concluded that "active participation" is important in programed instruction, especially if the objective is the later recall of the material presented. Subjects generally did not like the programed presentation because they felt It was too repetitive, but they felt it would be a useful supplementaiy Instructional device In many courses.



Programmed instruction.