Experimental and Theoretical Analyses of Instructional Tasks: Reading, Discrimination, and Construction
The effectiveness and efficiency of three kinds of workbooks were compared in teaching behavioral systems analysis to college students. Each workbook contained the same content but utilized different types of instructional tasks. The reading workbook had the definitions, and examples and nonexamples of the concepts to be taught, and the subjects were asked to read them. The discrimination workbook had the same definitions, examples and nonexamples, but the subjects were asked to work on discriminating the examples from the nonexamples. Feedback was given with regard to the correctness of the subjects' responses. The construction workbook had the same definitions of the concepts, but the subjects were asked to generate examples by themselves. Feedback was also given to those subjects.
A pretest and a posttest were administered, both of which included discrimination and construction test questions. The results showed that all workbooks were effective in producing significant differences between pretest and posttest scores. On the other hand, there were no significant differences between the pretest and posttest scores for the subjects who used no workbook (i.e., the control group). Furthermore, the discrimination and reading workbooks were significantly more effective than the construction workbook on the discrimination test questions; there were no significant differences among the workbooks on the construction test questions. The time the subjects needed to complete the reading workbook was significantly shorter than the time needed to complete either of the other two, with the construction workbook taking the longest time to complete. Thus, the reading workbook was the most efficient among the three workbooks. These results suggest some limitations to the principles of programmed instruction.