Professor Emeritus
Instructional Systems
College of Education
Penn State University
University Park,
PA 16802

Home Address:
458 Westgate Drive
State College,
PA 16803
Phone: 814-404-9882

The Program of Systematic Evaluation


Research is at the "heart" of the Program of Systematic Evaluation. Beginning as a single concept in the 1960's, it has evolved, to date, as the most comprehensive research endeavor focusing on the use of visualization in the design of effective and efficient learning environments for instructional and training purposes.

More so than ever before the use of visualized materials are becoming a worldwide means of transmitting information at all levels of education and training. Beginning in 1965 Dr. Dwyer ( Executive Summary; Visual Researcher Extroadinaire (2003)) developed an instructional module and several criterion tests measuring different educational objectives which have become the foundational instructional materials in an innovative and systematic research program at Penn State University known as the Program of Systematic Evaluation (PSE): ( Research Justification of PSE, Canelos, J.; Overview of PSE, Dwyer, C.; Overview of PSE, Dwyer, F;Summary of the Program of Systematic Evaluation 1965-2007, Dwyer, F.M.).

The general thrust of the PSE was to identify the types of visual materials used singly and in combination with other independent variables which would be most effective in facilitating student achievement of specific educational objectives. Specifically the Program of Systematic Evaluation was designed to:

  1. Provide a research paradigm and materials which could be used to facilitate individual quantitative research studies on variables related to improving the effectiveness, efficiency and utility of instructional/training software materials.
  2. Help students develop a strong foundation for their future research as well as their contributing to the growing body of data related to the improvement of instructional design guidelines being generated in the Program of Systematic Evaluation.
  3. To provide opportunities in conducting research and publishing the results in referred journals. More than 250 research studies have been published.
  4. To provide opportunities in presenting research findings at state, regional, national and international conferences. To date over 350 presentations have been delivered.

The research thrust represented in the Program of Systematic Evaluation is unique in that all the research studies utilized the same instructional materials and the same criterion measures. To date the Program of Systematic Evaluation has:

Following is a sampling of independent variables investigated in the Program of Systematic Evaluation:

Structuring strategies
Organizational chunking
Advance organizer strategies
Questioning Strategies
Levels of adjunct postquestions
Oral elaboration
Visual scaffolding

Visualization variables
Varied levels of visualization
Imagery learning strategies
Variations in visual/ verbal testing
Inductive/deductive interactive visuals
Visual/verbal feedback
Visual Testing

Method of Testing
Order of testing
Levels of testing
Levels of cognition
Cued recall
Immediate and delayed retention

Individual differences
Learning Styles
Field dependence/independence
Locus of control
Reading comprehension
Myers Briggs personality measure
Gender differences
Prior knowledge
Cognitive mapping

Theoretical orientations
Elaborative/reduced step cueing
Elaboration theory
Motivation theory
Encoding specificity
Cue summation
Cognitive trace compatibility
Sign similarity hypothesis
Concrete-abstract continuum
Levels of information processing

Learning Tactics
Embedded strategies
Prompting strategies
Embedded analogies
Mixed-chunk elaborative feedback
Overt/covert practice
Mnemonic strategies
Rate-modified speech
Eye movement
Levels of self pacing