Methods of Instruction
is a procedural task?
You have been given an assignment that entails teaching a procedural
task. A procedural task involves performing a procedure, which is a sequence
of activities to achieve a goal. Synonyms include method, technique, skill,
and rule (sometimes). A procedure can be either of two types:
A physical procedure, which entails the execution of physical movements,
like performing a serve in tennis.
A mental procedure, which entails the execution of mental operations,
like adding two numbers in your head.
Procedures are invented, but the fact that they work or don't work can
be explained by principles (although the principles may not have been discovered
yet). A person can learn to perform a procedure without understanding why
it works. For example, one can learn how to calculate force using the formula
F=Ma (Force equals Mass times acceleration) without understanding anything
about force or mass or acceleration (which are all concepts) or about the
causal interrelationships among them (which are principles), such as: an
increase in acceleration will cause an increase in force. So procedures
can be learned rotely at the application level.
Actually, most procedures are a combination of physical and
mental activities. A case in point is the procedure for writing an essay.
But usually only one of the two kinds of activities needs to be taught—the
other has already been mastered. In this case, we assume the physical activity
of writing has already been mastered.