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Keller Plan

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The Keller Plan, also called the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), is a teaching method developed by Fred S. Keller and is based on Skinner's theories of operant conditioning. This system is is characterized by:

  • Self-paced instruction -- Each student learns as fast as they are capable independently of others, and is free to specialize in their own interests.
  • Content chunking -- Material is broken down into small units. Prerequisite chunks must be learned before superrequisite chunks.
  • Unit mastery -- Each unit must be mastered before students can move onto superrequisite units. This means students must score above a certain percent on each unit test before proceeding. Tests can be repeated multiple times.
  • Statistical tracking -- A later innovation. Students' progress can be tracked statistically to compare their learning speed on individual units against their overall learning speed. This way if a student is having trouble on a particular unit, intervention can be taken.
  • The plan requires a great deal of administrative work on the part of the instructor. However, the use of computer technology has greatly reduced this burden. One such program is the computer-aided personalized system of instruction (CAPSI)
  • In accordance with operant principles no punishment is delivered for poor performance and only passing grades are are given.

This teaching method allows students to learn faster than traditional instruction, but because the subject is taught until the student has mastered it, some students may require more time to complete a course than is convenient in a traditional school. The role of the teacher in this approach is to be available for advice and support, but once the material is developed they are a lot less active than in other teaching methods.

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