Instructional Theory William Allan Kritsonis, PhDResearch indicates that before effective instruction can take place, theinstructor must first consider “student readiness.” Research shows thatstudent readiness includes the students’ knowledge, skills and dispositionnecessary to perform a given task. The instructor must take into accountthe readiness of each student in order for effective instruction to takeplace. An evaluation instrument should be designed to measure readinesslevel of the student so that the instructor can assess the appropriate tasksto assign based on student knowledge. Planning a task leads to theachievement of the learning objective. The number of tasks plannedshould be based on the difficulty level of the learning objective. Ingeneral, greater number of tasks should be planned to achieve a moredifficult learning objective. The evaluation of the students’ currentknowledge and skills should be a basis for assigning tasks to students andas a measurement for student readiness. When the instructor assignstasks, the knowledge level and skills level of the student must besufficient to meet the demands of the tasks. When teaching, theinstructor must take into consideration the mastery level of performance.
Learning should be attained for each task so students who learn toperform a task are ready to perform the next task. When defining instructional expectations, research indicates thatbefore effective instruction can take place, the student must know prior toinstruction what the learning objective is, what procedures are necessaryto perform the tasks required to achieve the learning objective and whatthe criteria’s are for successful accomplishment of the learning objective.The instructor must clearly define how the student is to achieve thelearning objective by defining the procedure that the student is to use inachieving the learning objective. Instructor must clearly define “how”they are to achieve the objective and “what” they must do in order toaccomplish the learning objective. Absence of this knowledge mayprevent the student from recognizing whether they have successfullycompleted the given learning objective and whether the appropriateprocedure needed to accomplish the learning objective was used. The instructor must provide the student with effective evaluationand remediation. Evaluation can be defined as assessing student taskperformance for the purpose of certifying, student competence inperforming the task being evaluated and diagnosing causes ofinadequacy. The instructor must remediate by correction of inadequate
task performance based on the evaluation. Evaluation serves as adiagnostic tool for determining competence task performance andinadequate task performance. When evaluations are conducted, studentsare given immediate feedback on the competent of task performance andnew tasks can be assigned to the student based on the evaluation results.Diagnosis of student inadequacies and student progress should includefrequent quizzes, tests, and other forms of performance evaluation.Feedback is necessary to inform students and acknowledge theirachievements; encourage their next challenge with expectations ofsuccess. Students associate correction and remediation activities with theirincorrect responses if remediation is provided sooner rather than later.This is why providing continuity is very necessary in instructionstrategies. Studies indicate that academic achievement is improved wheninstruction is contiguous. Student tasks should be broken down intosmall segments so that they can be performed as close together aspossible. Devices that can be used to promote contiguity includefocusing attention on the highlighting relationships and condensing timeas well as condensing space. During the instructional process, studenttasks performance should follow instruction as soon as possible;
evaluation should occur during or immediately, or very soon afterevaluation; remediation should occur immediately following feedback. Two modes of repetition enhance learning. They include repeatedpresentations of to-be-learned information to students and students’repetition of assigned tasks. Repetition will enhance learning if the to-be-learned task is repeatedly presented to the student and if the to-be-learned task is practiced by students. Repetition must be frequent butmust avoid boredom. Too much repetition may interfere with learningof the to-be-learned material. Once students have mastered material, it isadvised to move on to new or advanced material or students may becomebored. Clarity of communication enhances the academic achievement ofstudents and facilitates the learning objectives they are assigned. Studiesindicate that students exposed to clear communications achieve at a rateof one and one-half to three times higher than students not exposed toclear communications. The instructor must provide examples andillustrations of concepts being taught while avoiding irrelevantinterjections of subject matter and vagueness. Studies suggest that theinstructor should provide transitional terms such as “next”, “the last itemis”, and “this concludes”. It is also suggested that the instructor use
simple language and provide time for question and answers. In fact,questions and answers have shown to be especially effective in enhancingachievement. Reducing student/teacher ratio is plays a very important role in theacademic achievement of students. As the student-to-teacher ratioincreases, academic achievement decreases. Studies have shown thathigher ratios mean that teachers spend more time in classroommanagement as opposed to teaching. Higher ratios also mean that thereis more opportunity for off-task behavior. To maximize studentachievement it is suggested that teachers use one-on-one tutoring. Groupinstruction achieves superior results when teamwork is being taught forthe purpose of enhancing group achievement. In-group instruction,keeping students-to-teacher rations below 15:1 is ideal as the smaller thegroup sizes the higher the academic achievement. 1:1 produces thehighest achievement. It is necessary to assess and diagnose studentperformance often and provide remediation in-group instruction. Reminders supposedly enhance higher mental functions such ascomprehension and problem solving. This may happen becausereminders cue recall of information especially when to-be-learnedmaterial consists of a short list or small group of interrelated objects or
concepts. Reminders are also effective when larger number of concepts isto be recalled or when the focus of instruction is English, foreignlanguage vocabulary instruction, science taxonomies, or other morecomplex learning situations. In order for remainders to be effective inthe learning process the instructor is prompted to provide instruction oncommonly used effective reminders and how to use them. Provideinstruction on how to formulate and use reminders and allow the studentsample time to practice using the reminder tactics. Subject matter unifiers also play an important in instructionaltheory when the student highlights parts or whole relationships in thesubject matter. The evidence indicates that the use of unifiers mayincrease student achievement by as much as five times that for students inlearning situations where unifiers were not used. The use of unifiers maybe used prior to, during, or after instruction. Students are taught toconstruct their own unifying scheme either during or after instruction.Unifying schemes employed to highlight relationships in the subjectmatter included textual summaries, hierarchical tree diagrams, pictorialrepresentations, and subject matter outlines. Providing transfer of learning instruction is defined as theapplication of prior learning to enable the performance of new tasks. If
people did not transfer what they leonine to solve new problems, learningwould be useless. The challenge to education is to facilitate the transferof learning that is necessary for the achievement of learning objectives.Students need to be taught how to determine the relevance of theknowledge and skills they have learning to the performance of new tasks.Students cannot transfer skills if they do not possess readinesscharacteristics discussed in earlier in this paper. Students must be able to work as team members to achieve teamgoals and objectives. Providing teamwork instruction can be facilitatedby the instructor so that students are able to problem solve, determinegoals and objectives and get along with co-workers. To be productivemembers of social communities, students must be able to addressproblems confronting the community and participate in team sports andgames. Group teaching does not produce the highest student academicachievement effects; however, it does promote teamwork that is essentialto success in civilized societies. The team members learn to share intheir successes and failures, rationally resolve conflicts, and appropriatelydivide the labors. Teamwork ideally is composed of four to fivemembers’ teams. Team-building exercises should be conduced to allowteam members to get to know one another and build rapport. Groups
should be allowed time to brainstorm and the instructor should beavailable to provide assistance and to recognize the teams for the degreeof improvement. It is important that the instructor provide ample learning time forthe students to correctly perform tasks, contemplate their performancebeforehand, and test the behaviors they hypothesize, evaluate the resultsof their performance, and made refinements. The instructor shouldprovide ample time and plan for learning activities, homework, libraryprojects, and laboratory activities. Allocation of too much time however,may unnecessarily slow the progress of other students. The instructorshould monitor allocation of time closely as it is also necessary forstudent to be kept on task. The more time students spend focused on theassigned tasks without distractions, the more likely they will achieve thelearning objectives. Students who do not attend to assigned learningtasks fail to learning and may become dropouts. Students that spendmore time focused on the given task achieve greater success inelementary and secondary classrooms. It is important that the instructorassign only tasks that are relevant to achieving the learning objectives forstudents to stay on task. The instruction must be well planned andorganized and sell as demonstrate and guide student to the given task.
Internet LinksLearning theory: Objectivism vs constructivismhttp://media.hku.hk/cmr/edtech/Constructivism.htmlPerspectives on instructionhttp://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtech540/Perspectives/Perspectives.htmlWhat is the new paradigm of instructional theory?http://itech1.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper17/paper17.htmlElaboration theoryhttp://www.gwu.edu/~tip/reigelut.html
Key Terms and Definitions:The definitions in the following section are relevant to InstructionalTheory and pertain to instructional contexts and settings.Ability Grouping: The grouping of students according to their abilitylevel for the purpose of instructionContiguity: The proximity of to-be-associated events in space and timeControl Motive: The penchant to improve the control of outcomesDecision-making: Selection a course of actionField-dependent/field independent cognitive style: The tendency toperceive events as either independent of their surrounding field ordependent upon their surrounding fieldInstruction: A process in which educators evaluate students, assign tasksto student based on the evaluations, and teach students to performassigned tasks in order to achieve a learning objectiveInstructional Conditions: Assignment conditions that can affect students’task performance, such as class size, disruptions, equipment, timeallowed for task performance, and safetyInstructional Cycle: The cyclical execution of the acts of evaluating;assigning tasks; teaching in order to achieve a learning objective. It maybe necessary to repeat the cycle a number of times to achieve a learningobjectiveInstructional Evaluation: The comparison of the performance of aninstructional task with criteria of competent performance, and thediagnosis of insufficiencies in task performanceInstructional Expectations: The objective students are assigned toachieve and procedures to be followed to achieve the objectives.
Instructional Planning: The process of deriving learning objectives,planning instructional tasks, planning evaluations, planning taskassignments and planning teaching.Instructional Strategies: Procedures used to enhance the achievement oflearning objectivesInstructional Units: Units of instruction consisting of a sequence ofevaluation, task assignment, and teaching tactics leading progressively tothe achievement of a unit-learning objective. A number of unitobjectives are achieved as a means of achieving a policy objectiveLearning objectives: Terminal tasks students are to learn to perform bymeans of instructionLearning Time: time allotted to students for performing assigned tasksPolicy Objectives: Desired student outcomes to be achieved byeducators. Policy objectives are established by policy-makers, such asschool boards, for educators to achieve.Predictive ability: The ability to forecast outcomes from antecedentconditionsProgressive tasks: A continuum of tasks leading progressively fromentry-level tasks appropriate for students with specified readinesscharacteristics to the achievement of a learning objectiveReadiness: Student knowledge, skills, and disposition necessary toperform a taskReinforcement: The attempt to increase the probability that a desiredassigned task will be performed by providing for the satisfaction of amotive when the desired tasks is performed.Remedial Tasks: Tasks formulated to remediate students’ failure toadequately perform a taskRemediation: The correction of inadequate task performance
Reminders: memory joggers used to facilitate and improve recall of to-be-learned information or skills.Repetition: The repeated presentation of to-be-learned material tostudents and/or student repetition of to-be-learned skillsStudent/teacher ratio: The proportion of teachers to students the teachersare assigned to teachStudents: People being taughtSubject matter: The content to be learned by studentsSubject matter unifiers: Presentations of the parts/whose relationships insubject matter students are assigned to learn to enhance their learning ofthe subject matterTask planning: The formulation and organizing of progressive tasks andremedial tasks to achieve a learning objective based on student readinesscharacteristicsTasks: student/subject matter interactions formulated to enable studentsto achieve learning objectivesTeaching: Guiding and facilitating student task performance in order toachieve a learning objectiveTeaching time: The proportion of learning time spent guiding andfacilitating student performance of assigned tasksTeamwork: Cooperation among people to achieve a common objectiveTime on Task: The amount of time students spend focused on theperformance of assigned tasksTransfer of learning: The application of prior learning to enable theperformance of new tasks
References Friedman, M.I. & Fisher, S.P. (1998). Handbook on effectiveinstructional strategies: evidence for decision-making. SC: The Institute forEvidence-Based Decision-Making in Education, Inc.