Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Walter R. Borg


Walter R. Borg


Arden N. Frandsen


David R. Stone


Heber C. Sharp


One of the most interesting and challenging problems to confront those interested in the learning process in recent years is the entire area of the self-instructional device, or "teaching machine." The idea of the teaching machine is not new, for Pressey (49) in 1926 wrote concerning a device he had developed, and at the same time indicated that he had had such a device in mind for "a number of years." After this introduction by Pressey, the teaching machine movement lay dormant for several years with only an occasional article written that had any direct relationship to this area. This was not to last indefinitely, however, because during the past ten years the interest has gradually been growing to the point that at the present time this movement demands consideration.

It is difficult to identify precisely why this has been the case, but a few reasons might be suggested. The demand on education is greater now than it has ever been before (47, 57): there are more people wanting education, there are more students receiving education, the percentage of school-age persons participating is increasing, and the teacher-pupil ratio is not remaining at a desirable level. To further intensify this problem, much more is being demanded. from education in the general areas of curriculum and desired levels of competence. Since this presents the educational system with the obvious task of keeping abreast of these demands, the educator has been forced to search for more effective and efficient methods of instruction. Glaser (28) in his review suggests that the trend is toward closer cooperation and coordination of effort between "educational psychology" and the "science of learning." The experimentalist and the learning theorist are working more closely together on training and learning problems than they ever have before. A final reason for this increased interest, according to Holland (31), is that in the past the interest has been largely on the device itself, but in recent years this has shifted to focus upon the fact that a person's behavior can be altered in situations outside of the laboratory by the application and utilization of certain psychological principles. These same principles can be incorporated in the teaching machine.

Not only is this movement intriguing, but it presents a great challenge, for there are a great number of problems, first to be identified, and second to be solved. From all indications this interest will not dissipate, but rather will become more universal with widespread implications for the student, the teacher, the administrator, the psychologist, and the parent (4, 18, 47). The implications are not confined to t hose associated with a school setting, for as Skinner (57) indicates there is additional application in home study, industrial training, military training, and special education of the exceptional individual. No doubt there are others but this will serve to illustrate the potentially wide-spread effects.