We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Programmed Instruction?

By J.M. Densing
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Programmed instruction is an instructional method in which the material to be learned is presented to the student in small chunks of information. In order to progress through the material, the student needs to demonstrate understanding of the previous information, thereby receiving instant reinforcement for correct responses. This method can be instructor led or can be self taught by the student. It also lends itself well to computer assisted learning. The method was originally popularized by B.F. Skinner as a behavioral approach to teaching.

Programmed instruction is a precise process. The material a student learns is broken down into tiny chunks to avoid overwhelming the student with too much at once. At times, a single course may consist of thousands of these chunks, or units, of instruction. It is thought that presenting the material in small pieces improves comprehension and retention. It's also much easier to pinpoint exactly where learning issues occur, and which parts are not understood, allow for immediate remediation.

Once broken down into units of instruction, the information can be presented to the student. As the student works through the content, his or her understanding is checked after each unit. This can be accomplished through questioning directly after the information is presented. If the student responds correctly, demonstrating appropriate comprehension, he or she is able to move on; this provides immediate positive reinforcement. If the response is incorrect, the student receives the information again to provide an opportunity to process it before moving on to the next module.

A carefully designed program can be instructor led but it works best in a one-to-one setting, or with a very small group of students with similar abilities; it's a difficult method to apply in larger groups. Most curricula that utilize programmed instruction are designed to be self taught, allowing the student to move through the material at his or her own pace. This also allows faster learners to move ahead quickly while allowing others to take as much time as is needed. Programs can utilize a textbook approach, or they can be taught via computer. Most contemporary programmed instruction uses computers, which are ideal for this approach since software can be programmed to deliver information and test questions automatically.

B.F. Skinner is considered by many to be the "father" of programmed instruction. He popularized the approach in the 1950s. Skinner viewed it as a behavioral method, which used questions to elicit the correct response as the desired behavior. The approach then rewarded or reinforced the behavior by allowing the student to move on to new material. Skinner invented a mechanical device called a "teaching machine" containing a list of questions that automated by the standards of his day the task of programmed instruction.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.