Generaleneral Psychologysychology


The lecture method, private tutors and the Three I's

The lecture method was not the only instructional paradigm medieval instructors employed.  Even in the Middle Ages, lectures were supplemented by disputations and informal private tutoring (de Ridder-Symoens, 1992).  Private tutoring gave students the opportunity to interact with their teachers.  Private tutors could provide immediate feedback.  Professors could praise correctly applied geometry theorems or point out alternate interpretations of previously assigned topics.

The ability to individualize instruction was the most significant benefit of private tutoring sessions.  The tutor could match instructional demands with the student's knowledge level; better students moved more rapidly through the material than less skilled students.  In contrast, platform lectures are rigid and insensitive to individual differences.  An almost inevitable product of platform instruction is that a lecture, which leaves one student in hapless confusion, fails to challenge a classmate.  The advantages of private tutoring, interactivity, informational feedback, and individualized instruction (the three Is) remain the fundamental building blocks of good training and education.  This is the case, if the student is studying theoretical physics or learning to shoot an M-16.

The problem with the private tutor paradigm is that civilian and military institutions cannot afford a tutor for everyone.  Private tutors are wonderful, but what do you do when there are more students than resources?  An idea, which we will focus upon shortly. investigated by B. F. Skinner (1958) and his colleagues (e.g., Lumsdaine & Glaser, 1960), was to use physical technologies to simulate a private tutor.  In other words, develop machines that provided instructional that was in many respects like having your own tutor.
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