The Personalized System of Instruction: Death Knell for the Lecture—

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1979, Vol. 49, Issue 3, Pg. 73-74

Document Type: Feature article


In most universities, teaching methods have not changed substantially since the invention of the printing press 500 years ago. Yet in recent years, some engineering schools have shown growing interest in applying modern findings of behaviorial psychology to the learning process. Specifically, the Univ. of Texas has for the past decade successfully used what is known as the personalized system of instruction (PSI) or the Keller plan. This method involves: (1)Breaking a course into digestible bites or units; (2)allowing the student to proceed through a unit at his own pace; (3)insisting on 100% mastery of a unit before going on to the next unit; (4)use of peers to test the learner's knowledge; and (5)use of lectures for motivating students only — not as a source of critical information. The method has been pioneered in U.S. engineering education by Professor Billy Koen, of the University of Texas (Austin). Students overwhelmingly (80%) prefer PSI to the lecture method, and learn 10% to 20% more.

Subject Headings: Engineering education | Students | Human factors | Teaching methods | Motivation | Faculty | Texas | United States

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