The Test & Laboratory Training

[From: Dennis Delprato (920929)]

Recent discussion of The Test reminds me this could be the
subject of a great laboratory exercise. Some of you programmers
out there need to work on converting demonstrations to full-
fledged labs that can be conducted at perhaps intro. and
advanced undergrad. levels. A lot of students at present are
working on some dreary labs that are not PCT in orientation.
If nothing else, PCT work can be more interesting to students
than much of what is done now. A side effect may be that some
elect to pursue PCT further.

Any progress on the "Goal-Seeking with Random Consequences
of Responses" lab, Rick?

I don't program computers, but I do a pretty good job of
systems analysis in the sense of incorporating computer
applications with users--as in applications of computers
to instructional labs so the entire product hangs together.
This includes testing and development of a package. I would
be interesting in working with anyone who would like to
put together a sequence of PCT labs that could be published
and offered to others (lab instructors who would not have to
know anything about PCT to use the labs). They would simply
be interested in a coherent package that enables them to use
the computers they have available. I seems to me that more
and more institutions from 2-yr. colleges on up have
computer labs, but little interesting and informative software
to use.

The initial "product" needn't be an entire term's worth of
material. I suspect many instructors would be interested in
first using a few labs.

I surmise that one of the appeals of operant psychology was
that it was activity-oriented. Students and instructors who
neither knew nor cared about the theory initially could actually
do something (train rats, pigeons) with results at least
interpretable ( if erroneously) in terms of the theory. Operant
psychology had/has a generally-applicable research preparation.
PCT has a generally-applicable research preparation that does
not even require nonhumans. Students can use themselves as
subjects. One factor working in favor of PCT today is the
increasing difficulties instructors are experiencing at using
nonhuman subjects. Furthermore, I believe psychology finally
has come around to realizing that not very much can be learned
by nonhuman research.

Note the advantages of PCT for instruction I've noted in the above
brief paragraph: activity-oriented, a generally-applicable
research preparation, strictures against nonhuman subjects,
psychology has gone human. There are more. The time has
come for knowledgeable individuals to exploit advantages such
as these. PCT will then be scrutinized eventually on a larger scale
and will stand a chance of being more a part of biopsychosocio-
science--to rejected, modified, embraced, or whatever.

Dennis Delprato
Dept. of Psychology
Eastern Mich. Univ.
Ypsilanti, MI 48197