The University of Western Australia

| uwa | csd | altmodes: modes - tools - examples |

Alternative Modes of Teaching and Learning

Alternative modes of delivery

Programmed Learning


Two interrelated movements, programmed instruction and teaching machines, attempt to increase learning efficiency through emphasizing the learner's active role, use of small successive steps, immediate feed-back to student response, and allowing the student to proceed at his (sic) own pace.
Programmed instruction is a planned sequence of experiences leading to the student's mastery of a topic of study. Tools for presenting the planned sequence of experiences varied from paper and pencil type to teaching machines.

Hefzallah, I.M., Forerunners to Computers in Education, in The New Learning and Telecommunications Technologies: Their Potential Applications In Education, I.M. Hefzallah, Editor. 1990, Charles C Thomas: Springfield. p. 59 - 70.

Programmed learning involves the identification of precise behavioural learning objectives, the step by step sequencing of tasks in order to achieve these objectives with each step measured by appropriate tests of attainment. Such an approach emphasizes teacher control over the objectives, tasks and sequence of learning and a tight structuring of these. Programmed learning is based on behaviorist theories of learning which aims to shape behaviour into predetermined patterns by strengthening stimulus-response bonds.

Entwistle, N., Styles in Learning and Teaching: An Integrated Outline of Educational Psychology for Students, Teachers and Lecturers. 1994, London: David Fulton Publishers, p. 226.

Instruction in which learners progress at their own rate using workbooks, textbooks, or electromechanical devices that provide information in discrete steps, test learning at each step, and provide immediate feedback about achievement.

from ERIC Search Wizard 2.0


  • Learning tasks are broken down into manageable chunks
  • The learner receives valuable feedback
  • The learners can proceed at their own pace


  • Learner has no control over tasks to be undertaken or the sequencing of them
  • Based on a view of learning which sees knowledge as comprising aggregates of discrete elements

Resources and References

Cruthirds J. and Hanna M S (1997).Programmed Instruction and Interactive Multimedia: A Third Consideration. Available at <>.

Learning & Intelligent Systems

Whatever Happened to Programmed Learning?

Valid HTML 4.0!

Hierarchical menu script available from <>