: : PCT applied to education

[From Richard Thurman (970206.0825)]

Bruce Gregory (970205.1005 EST)

Richard Thurman (970204.0850)]
Millennia of practice
have given us a fairly complete set of instructional practices and
prescriptions. Explanations for why they work may change, but the
underlying instructional practices may not.

I think PCT tells us that the instructional practices _must_
change. (Unless we want to keep producing the same results.)
Current practices are not built around a model of autonomous
perceptual control systems with very different reference levels.
This flaw is fundamental and perforce leads to very different
instructional schemes.

It may be that I am so steeped in the tradition of conventional ISD
practices that I cannot see clearly what the hang up is -- but I think I
see your point.

Let me try to explain my position this way. There are at least two major
sources for instructional prescriptions. The first and foremost source is
history, either personal or cultural. We humans tend to be very observant
when it comes to finding 'what works' and we tend to stick with a tool or
practice as long as it gets us what we need. Thus if we see that 'lots of
feedback' helps students (or our children if we are a parent), we will
give it. The second (and more sinister) source of instructional
prescriptions come from our explanations for why the fundamental practice
works. For example, the programmed instruction advocates of the early
60's specified lots of feedback needed to be given. Millennia of
observation points this basic premise out. But their explanation for why
it was important was flawed. (It provided reinforcement, they said.)

The problem came when the behavior mod paradigm was superimposed on the
practical admonition to provide necessary feedback. The programmed
instruction crowd mistook reinforcement for feedback. So the behavior mod
prescription and explanation was substituted into a practical
prescription. Thus instead of feedback, we got reinforcement and all the
"learning theory" baggage that came with it. (Immediate reinforcement is
better than delayed, etc.)

What Ray Kulhavey found in the 70's and early 80's was that effective
instructional feedback did not look or behave like reinforcement. For
example, when he studied the most effective timing of feedback he found
that a delay was definitely better.

Do you catch my drift. Every parent knows that kids need feedback when
they are learning (principle #1). Many teachers have been taught that
they should reinforce correct responses (principle #2). Instructional
principle #1 comes from experience and is correct. Instructional
principle #2 is derived from a flawed explanation of the experience and is
suspect.

My post the other day was an attempt to circumvent a possible criticism of
PCT-based instruction. ("It does not tell us to do anything different
than we already do.") But my post was flawed because, as you correctly
point out, it did not address the problem of incorrect prescriptions based
upon mis-explanations of an observed phenomenon.

Would you believe that the flaw was an unintended side effect?

Rich

[From Bruce Gregory (970207.1100 EST)]

Richard Thurman (970206.0825)]

Let me try to explain my position this way. There are at least two major
sources for instructional prescriptions. The first and foremost source is
history, either personal or cultural. We humans tend to be very observant
when it comes to finding 'what works' and we tend to stick with a tool or
practice as long as it gets us what we need. Thus if we see that 'lots of
feedback' helps students (or our children if we are a parent), we will
give it.

In order to be meaningful, feedback must be provided by the
task, not the teacher. Imagine trying to learn to drive a car
wearing a blindfold. The instructor provides helpful "feedback"
by saying, "O.K. O.K. No, left. Further left. Now right, Oh my
God...."

Would you believe that the flaw was an unintended side effect?

Sure, _all_ my flaws are unintended side effects :wink:

Bruce Gregory