Module 4: Procedure Using
Basic Methods of Instruction
1.Kinds of Learning
Generality. Since a procedure is a set of steps to achieve a goal, the generality should identify the goal and the steps in general terms, along with the name of the procedure (if any).
Examples. An example of a procedure is a demonstration of the use of the steps in one particular situation. It is not enough to just show the outcome of such use; every step should actually be demonstrated. Of course, each example should be as divergent as possible from the previous examples, with one instance from each equivalence class making up each such set of divergent examples.
Practice. As the famous philosopher, Nike, once said, "Just do it." Practice of a procedure entails doing it for a case that is different from any previously encountered cases. Each such divergent practice item should provide the goal and any necessary inputs and should require the learner to perform each step of the procedure.
The sequence does not have to be G-E-P. In fact, it is often
best to give an example simultaneously with the generality. We learn many
procedures through example; that is, we learn them by observing others,
and gradually generalizing from a prototypical case to the full range of
cases. So we might want to hold off on the generality until after many
examples and practice have been done. In fact, the learner could generate
her or his own generality after observing a number of cases. Furthermore,
we might want to give a generality, examples, and practice for one equivalence
class, then give G, E, and P for another, and so forth until all have been
mastered, rather than giving examples for all equivalence classes followed
by practice for all. Alternatively, we may want to give the learner
control over the sequence of the routine tactics and equivalence classes.
For a Generality
Attention-focusing. For procedures the most important aspect of the generality is the steps. Therefore, we should focus attention on the actions (mental or physical) which must be performed, and the order in which they should be performed.
Alternative representation. For procedures, the most useful alternatives are usually a flowchart or a paraphrase.
Mnemonic. In some procedures, it is hard to remember the order
or nature of all the steps. In such cases, a mnemonic (like SQ3R: Survey,
Question, Read, Recite, Review) can be very helpful to learners.
The number of examples (or demonstrations) should be increased as the difficulty of the procedure increases.
Examples should be presented in an easy-to-difficult sequence.
Attention-focusing should relate the example to the generality, either by explaining in general terms what is being done in each step of the example or by highlighting the key actions and orderings.
An alternative representation for an example will often be in the form of a flowchart.
A reminder of the mnemonic can be helpful.
Common errors are useful to warn the student about, as long as
they are indeed common (otherwise you might increase the chances
of the errors being made) and as long as they are explained meaningfully
to the learner.
The number of practice items can be increased to enhance the instruction.
An easy-to-difficult sequence should also be used, as for examples.
Prompting is often helpful on early practice items when the procedure
is a difficult one. Otherwise, power should be reserved for the feedback.
Attention-focusing should be used to relate the instance to the generality by pointing out, depending on the nature of the learner's mistake, the way an action (mental or physical) should have been performed, or the order in which it should have been performed. It should be the same as attention-focusing for examples.
A variety of representations is often helpful for the correct-answer feedback when a procedure is difficult.
A reminder of the mnemonic (if one was presented earlier) is often a very helpful aspect of feedback.
Of course, motivational enrichment can also be used: praise for correct answers and encouragement for wrong answers.
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This file was last updated on March 10, 1999 by Byungro Lim
Copyright 1999, Charles M. ReigeluthCredit