Caller's Personalized System of Instruction

In 1960s, Keller built a personal system of instruction seeking to promote mastery of a predetermined set of objects for each learner. Burton, Moore and Magliaro (1996) described PSI (Personalized System of Instruction) as an interlocking system of instruction, which consists of sequentially, progressive tasks. The major components in the system include pre-specified objectives and self-paced modules.

In Keller's (1968) paper, he identified five essential features of a personalized course:

  1. It "permits a student to move through the course at a speed commensurate with his ability and other demands upon his time": a self-pacing feature.
  2. It "lets the student go ahead to new material only after demonstrating mastery of that which preceded": progressively sequential units
  3. Lectures and demonstrations are no longer "sources of critical information. Instead, they are vehicles of motivation.
  4. Teacher-student communication is mainly conveyed via written word.
  5. Use of proctors, "which permits repeated testing, immediate scoring, almost unavoidable tutoring, and a marked enhancement of the personal-social aspect of the educational process"

Based on the description of personalized system of instruction by Educational Technologies at Virginia Tech, listed the steps for developing the personalized system of instruction as follows:

  1. Identify goal statements
  2. Break content into chunks
  3. Develop study guides, including objectives, study procedures, questions, individual works
  4. Student self pace each unit
  5. Test and provide immediate feedback
  6. Review and retest
  7. Present more new units

Research on PSI has proved that PSI can be extremely effective in producing significant improvement in students achievement (Burton, Moore and Maliaro, 1996). More resources about PSI can be found on the PSI homepage developed by Robert Allan and Howard Gullup.

Burton, J. K., Moore, D. M., & Magliaro, S. G. (1996). Behaviorism and instructional technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 46-73). New York: Macmillan.

Keller, F. S. (1968). Goodbye teacher…Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 1, 79-89.