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My personal philosophy has been strongly influenced by many philosophers, educators and theorists, constructs and schemata including the following:

Here are some of my principles of software development.  I "discovered" and learned to follow these guidelines over my twenty years of conceiving, designing, authoring and producing over three hundred internal (in-house), business and consumer software products.  It is a fluid list that I add to and refine constantly.

  1. The Best Offense is the Best Offense
    Assemble the best team and you will create the best product.  Make the best product from the beginning.  Don't plan obsolescence; plan growth.  If people like and need their software, they don't want to switch software, they want to upgrade.

  2. Hub and Spoke Development
    It must be a collaborative effort with excellent communication directed by the hub and taking everyone into account- 

  • Hub (the Author/Project Manager)

  • Designers

  • Software Engineers

  • Graphic User Interface Designers

  • Technical Support

  • Sales

  • Marketing

  • Buyers

  • End-Users (not necessarily the buyers)

  • Customer Service

  • Testers (by everyone and certainly by the Author/Project Manager)

  1. Programming Economics
    Essential Elements Only- Do not include peripheral elements.  Only add program features that are necessary and economical (in a utility sense, not an economic one). 

  2. Database Driven
    Databases are great program cores; they allow virtually unlimited data types, ways to manipulate data and they are easily expanded.

  3. Full Integration
    Features should be integrated and fully incorporated, fitting within the overall gestalt of the program.

  4. About Face
    Interface is essential as is consistency.

  5. Target
    Who is the product for?  It must be written specifically with them in mind.  This is why there should be skins for different user groups and features that are hidden from various other user groups.

  6. Don't Forget the Buyer
    Even though the buyer often is not the end user, the product must be created with both in mind.  The greatest program in the world is useless if the buyer doesn’t “get it.”

  7. Continual Evolution
    The product must continue to evolve based upon feedback and assessment of its meeting its goals.  Continual debugging, proofing and revising as well as ongoing improvements, enhancements and new features all based on feedback using the Hub and Spoke model.

  8. Systems Theory and Coding Ecosystems
    Changing one feature in a software ecosystem usually affects all other features and sections.

  9. Stealth and Discovery Learning
    Design it in such a way as to make it easy to use; learn how to use it by actually using it.  Make it fun to explore and users will not know they are learning to use it.  They will also not know they are learning.

  10. Empower Teams
    Give production teams the power (and tools and time) to produce and the right to fail.  You cannot succeed without permission to fail.  Without that permission you will only have "safe" mediocre products that will never be on the cutting edge.

  11. Timing
    Know the market, its technological state as well as customers (and buyers) level of sophistication.  Early adopters may or may not be the market buyers but be ready for them either way.  Consumer knowledge shifts quickly and I want to lead the market, not follow someone else’s lead.  Always keep the bar slightly higher than 90% of the competition.

  12. Plan Ahead
    You need to know what the market can bear but still be ready for the future.  This is why, for example, when I conceived DigitalCurriculum in 1997 I insisted on multiple bit-rate streams from 28K dial-up to 450K broadband.  Even though I knew most schools would not be able to stream at higher bit rates at the beginning I wanted it there because I knew they would be ready someday.  I also knew that simultaneous streaming was crucial for a true VOD system.  It’s not being a visionary; it’s simply planning ahead.

  13. Features and Benefits
    Features are the bells and whistles that provide the "wow" factor and may tip the sales in your favor but benefits are the reasons the customer is buying in the first place.  Program for the benefits and decorate it with features later.




NOUN: An apparent change in the direction of an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight.

Parallax (Greek: παραλλαγή (parallagé) = alteration) is the change of angular position of two stationary points relative to each other as seen by an observer, due to the motion of an observer. Or more simply put, it is the apparent shift of an object against a background due to a change in observer position; essentially a parallax is a perspective shift

Parallax is often thought of as the "apparent motion" of an object against a distant background because of a perspective shift, as seen in Figure 1. When viewed from Viewpoint A, the object appears to be in front of the blue square. When the viewpoint is changed to Viewpoint B, the object appears to have moved to in front of the red square.


Existentialism is a philosophical movement that views human existence as having a set of underlying themes and characteristics, such as anxiety, dread, freedom, awareness of death, and consciousness of existing. Existentialism is also an outlook, or a perspective, on life that pursues the question of the meaning of life or the meaning of existence. It is this question that is seen of paramount importance, above both scientific and other philosophical pursuits.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the "father of existentialism," asserted that "truth is subjectivity": human beings can be understood only from the inside, in terms of their lived and experienced reality and dilemmas, not from the outside, in terms of a biological, psychological, or other scientific theory of human nature. Existentialism emphasizes action, freedom, and decision as fundamental to human existence and is fundamentally opposed to the rationalist tradition and to positivism. That is, it argues against definitions of human beings either as primarily rational, knowing beings who relate to reality primarily as an object of knowledge or whose action can or ought to be regulated by rational principles, or as beings who can be defined in terms of their behavior as it looks to or is studied by others. More generally it rejects all of the Western rationalist definitions of Being in terms of a rational principle or essence or as the most general feature that all existing things share in common. Existentialism tends to view human beings as subjects in an indifferent, objective, often ambiguous, and "absurd" universe in which meaning is not provided by the natural order, but rather can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by human beings' actions and interpretations.

Human beings are exposed to or, to use the philosopher Martin Heidegger's phrase, "thrown" into, existence. Existentialists consider being thrown into existence as prior to, and the horizon or context of, any other thoughts or ideas that humans have or definitions of themselves that they create. This is part of the meaning of the assertion of the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the founders of existentialism, "existence is prior to essence." Existentialism conceives of Being itself as something that can only be understood through and in relation to these basic characteristics of human existence.

In terms of the existence and relevance of God, there are three schools of existentialist thought: atheistic existentialism (Sartre), Christian existentialism (Kierkegaard) and a third school, agnostic existentialism, which proposes that whether God exists or not is irrelevant to the issue of human existence - God may or may not exist (Heidegger).

Although there are certain common tendencies among existentialist thinkers, there are major differences and disagreements among them, and not all of them even affiliate themselves with or accept the validity of the term "existentialism", which was coined by Gabriel Marcel and popularized especially by Sartre. In German the phrase Existenzphilosophie (philosophy of existence) is also used.


Humanistic Phenomenology

Phenomenology is a philosophical approach to human nature--or to the impossibility of having a human nature--that started in Europe with Edmund Hussurl. Phenomenology emphasizes the subjective experience of the individual. It assumes that "existence precedes essence," where existence is subjective experience and essence is human nature. Phenomenology later became incorporated into the philosophical approach known as existentialism, influential throughout Europe from 1940-1960, which started with such earlier thinkers as Søren Kierkegaard and Fredrich Nietzsche, and later was advanced by Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. The existentialists focused on the subjective experience of the individual, especially feelings of dread and anxiety in the face of one's inherent aloneness and limitations--the ultimate limitation being death. Another focus was on the individual's personal freedom and responsibility to create meaning in life out of meaninglessness.

When existential philosophy arrived in North America, it took a more optimistic turn in the humanistic psychologies of people such as Carl Rogers. Rogers is often incorrectly labeled a phenomenologist because of his emphasis on subjective experience. However, the common principle upon which phenomenology is based is that existence precedes essence. Rogers, by contrast, believes that human beings have an inherent essence: the striving for self-actualization. It is therefore incorrect to label Rogers a phenomenologist.

Due to his intense concern with the individual, it also may be incorrect to label Rogers a humanist. Some would say that humanism emphasizes the importance of pro-social behavior, not actualization of oneself, and it is not clear that these two things are one and the same. For example, Rogers would probably label an Olympic swimmer, who constantly strove to shave a millisecond off her best time, as living up to her potential, and consequently as self-actualized. However, one might legitimately ask what is the point of such activity in the broader social framework in which we all live. Rogers would probably not distinguish this form of self-actualization from another form of self-actualization that made a difference in countless people's lives, such as that of Martin Luthur King, Jr. Still, theoretically and morally this seems a distinction worth making.

I would like for students who are taking my class to understand the following terms: phenomenology, existentialism, and humanism. I would also like for students to be able to identify philosophers and psychologists who are typically identified with these approaches.

















Paradigm Shift

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of "paradigm shift." Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".

Think of a Paradigm Shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.

For example, agriculture changed early primitive society. The primitive Indians existed for centuries roaming the earth constantly hunting and gathering for seasonal foods and water. However, by 2000 B.C., Middle America was a landscape of very small villages, each surrounded by patchy fields of corn and other vegetables.

Agents of change helped create a paradigm-shift moving scientific theory from the Plolemaic system (the earth at the center of the universe) to the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe), and moving from Newtonian physics to Relativity and Quantum Physics. Both movements eventually changed the world view. These transformations were gradual as old beliefs were replaced by the new paradigms creating "a new gestalt."

Likewise, the printing press, the making of books and the use of vernacular language inevitable changed the culture of a people and had a direct affect on the scientific revolution. Johann Gutenberg's invention in the 1440's of movable type was an agent of change. Books became readily available, smaller and easier to handle and cheap to purchase. Masses of people acquired direct access to the scriptures. Attitudes began to change as people were relieved from church domination.

Similarly, agents of change are driving a new paradigm shift today. The signs are all around us. For example, the introduction of the personal computer and the Internet have impacted both personal and business environments, and is a catalyst for a Paradigm Shift. We are shifting from a mechanistic, manufacturing, industrial society to an organic, service based, information centered society, and increases in technology will continue to impact globally. Change is inevitable. It's the only true constant.

In conclusion, for millions of years we have been evolving and will continue to do so. Change is difficult. Human Beings resist change; however, the process has been set in motion long ago and we will continue to co-create our own experience. Kuhn states that "awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes of theory." It all begins in the mind of the person. What we perceive, whether normal or metanormal, conscious or unconscious, are subject to the limitations and distortions produced by our inherited and socially conditional nature. However, we are not restricted by this for we can change. We are moving at an accelerated rate of speed and our state of consciousness is transforming and transcending. Many are awakening as our conscious awareness expands.

Reference: Kuhn, Thomas, S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Second Edition, Enlarged, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970(1962)



The brains of the organization are widely distributed, one per person. Use them fully and prosper.

Companies produce organizational intelligence with a well designed blend of organizational community, free intraprise and hierarchy. You can build organizational intelligence by building organizational community, establishing a free intraprise system, and using the power of the chain of command to create the conditions in which freedom and community drive towards the prosperity of the organization and its customers.

1. Even the best organizations today use only a tiny portion of the potential productivity, talent, and drive of their members.

2.We are entering a time of major breakthroughs in the way people work together which will be as significant as the Industrial Revolution or the Renaissance.

3. The emerging pattern of organization will be more self-organizing and less rigidly hierarchical.

4. These systems will prove to be far more productive and more joyful than the organizations of today.

5. Organizations can significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of innovation with what is known about intrapreneuring today.

6. Intrapreneuring will prove an essential practice in the even more effective organizations of the future.

The Intrapreneur's Ten Commandments

  1. Build your team, intrapreneuring is not a solo activity.

  2. Share credit widely.

  3. Ask for advice before you ask for resources.

  4. Underpromise and overdeliver -- publicity triggers the corporate.immune system.

  5. Do any job needed to make your dream work, regardless of your.job description.

  6. Remember it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

  7. Keep the best interests of the company and its customers in mind, especially when you have to bend the rules or circumvent the bureaucracy.

  8. Come to work each day willing to be fired.

  9. Be true to your goals, but be realistic about how to achieve them.

  10. Honor and educate your sponsors.


The 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management

  1. Dominate your market 100% (99% is unacceptable)

  2. Hire only the very best people

  3. Bet the company when the odds are attractive

  4. Require fast (not slow) failure

  5. Managers must have a high level of expertise

  6. Perform, Perform, Perform

  7. Spend money frugally

  8. Size matters (smaller is essential)

  9. "Bill is watching" (and listening)

  10. Espris de Corps

  11. Stop the insanity (ie waste of resources, especially time)

  12. Home away from home

1. Total World Domination

Some companies focus on the bottom line. In contrast, Thielen forcefully asserts that every single Microsoft employee is single-mindedly focused on winning 100% of their target market, whatever it might be. Microsoft's culture is one of maximizing long-term profits by, in the near term, capturing market share in strategic markets. 

2. The Top Five Percent

According to Thielen, "One of the enjoyable things about working at Microsoft is that even the least talented are pretty damn smart, the average are superb, and the best leave you trying every day to match their work." Microsoft rigorously attempts to hire only the smartest people, those who are within the smartest 5% of the total population. But don't confuse smarts with knowledge. Knowledge is for books on a shelf. Microsoft seeks individuals who can turn on their brains and really think. These are the types of people who create new ideas, catch errors quickly, and come up with a more efficient way of doing things. In essence, by hiring the smartest people, Microsoft goes a long way toward ensuring a highly productive workforce. 

3. Bet the Company

Winning in the game of business is about being willing to make bets at good odds. In the early 1990s, Bill Gates bet the company on Windows. In 1996, Bill bet the company on the Internet. By all indications, the principle of "betting the company" is institutionalized within Microsoft management. 

4. Require Failure

At most companies, to succeed is good, but to fail is unacceptable. This type of policy means that, as a risk/reward scenario, the risk of failure vastly exceeds the reward of success. Thus, most companies suffer from a workforce that pursues a course of failure avoidance. In contrast, at Microsoft, failure is expected, and even required because risking failure is the only way to push the envelope. As a result, Microsofties relentlessly pursue success without fear of failure. And if they fail, they understand that the key is to fail quickly and not waste time. 

5. Managers Are Qualified

At Microsoft, the most important qualification for a manager is expertise in the functional area over which (s)he is managing. According to Thielen, "Managers at Microsoft fully understand the work the people who report to them do. Almost without exception, those managers could do the job of any individual doing the core work for their team." For example, managers of marketing teams are great marketers; managers of sales teams are excellent sales people; and, managers of programming teams are expert programmers. This principle applies all the way up to Bill Gates, who is an expert at programming -- Microsoft's core competency. 

6. Perform, Perform, Perform

Performance is all that matters at Microsoft, so much so that excuses are flat-out irrelevant. In fact, Microsoft is so stubbornly focused on performance that Thielen even describes the company as "heartless" and "unfair." But the end result of this single-minded concern for success is that Microsoft performs like a champion sports team.

7. "Shrimp vs. Weenies"

Even with its billions upon billions in cash, Microsoft is as frugal as Ebeneezer Scrooge. It's a company that buys canned weenies for food, not shrimp. Until last year, even Bill Gates and his second-in-command Steve Ballmer flew coach. (For scheduling reasons, the company purchased its first corporate jet.) Bucking the trend of most large, wealthy corporations, Microsoft remains in start-up mode where tight budgets are the rule. When you sit back and think about it, this frugality is less surprising and evenexplains how a company can come to accumulate such great hoards of cash.

8. Size Does Matter

I, for one, am guilty of describing Microsoft as a "software behemoth." But Thielen takes a different view: "Microsoft is not a single, large company; rather it is a collection of small, independent companies. The primary job functions at Microsoft are creating, testing, marketing, and selling software. And, amazingly enough, these functions are largely performed separately for each and every project." Thereby, Microsoft largely avoids the bureaucracy that weighs down so many large companies. Thus, Microsoft retains the independence and agility of a small company, while also benefiting from the financial resources, marketing muscle, and overall strategic direction of a large, powerful corporation.

9. Bill is Watching

Bill Gates and Microsoft's other senior executives really understand what's happening in their organization. Every month, the lead manager on every project e-mails a status report to Bill and the other key managers, providing an update on the project's status and any major problems. In addition, every Saturday morning, Bill calls every single vice president and spends half an hour discussing the issues in each department. According to Thielen, "Bill's approach, his philosophy, and his strategic vision permeates the entire company." And because Bill Gates has such a deep understanding of programming and technology, he's able -- and willing -- to communicate down through the ranks and even grill the software developers who actually perform the work. Thielen concludes, "Because Bill understands what is happening throughout the company, [his] decisions are generally the correct ones for the strategic direction of the company."

10. Esprit de Corps

Again alluding to Microsoft being less like a big company than it appears, Thielen asserts that Microsoft has esprit de corps like that of a start-up where everyone involved is focused on a common goal. Microsofties take great pride in their work, partly because they have a great deal of freedom in how they go about their jobs. Pranks, jokes, and games are all part of the atmosphere. It's a work hard, play hard culture. 

11. Stop the Insanity

The plague of most big companies is bureaucracy and stupid rules. Thielen gives the example of an un-named high-tech company that sent a four-page memo to all of its employees on proper security badge procedure, including infinitesimal details on how and where to wear the badge. To that, Thielen states, "Does Microsoft manage to avoid this type of inane garbage? By and large, yes." Unlike most companies, Microsoft actually assumes its employees are smart (perhaps based on principle #2). Rules at Microsoft are few and far between, and the ones that exist tend to make sense. Having only a few important, logical rules means that employees actually remember and follow them. 

12. Home Away From Home

Microsoft has a simple way of maximizing its employees' productivity: It allows each individual's office to be as individualized as one desires. That means making the office more like home. Everything from real offices (not cubicles) to windows in most offices, from free soft drinks to no dress code, from an open supply room to anything-goes work hours. Quite simply, these policies improve employee morale, and thus increase overall productivity.


Systems Theory

Systems Theory: the transdisciplinary study of the abstract organization of phenomena, independent of their substance, type, or spatial or temporal scale of existence. It investigates both the principles common to all complex entities, and the (usually mathematical) models which can be used to describe them.

Systems theory was proposed in the 1940's by the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy (General Systems Theory, 1968), and furthered by Ross Ashby (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956). von Bertalanffy was both reacting agaInst reductionism and attempting to revive the unity of science. He emphasized that real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. holism). This particular organization determines a system, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc). Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines (physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification. Systems concepts include: system-environment boundary, input, output, process, state, hierarchy, goal-directedness, and information.

The developments of systems theory are diverse (Klir, Facets of Systems Science, 1991), including conceptual foundations and philosophy (e.g. the philosophies of Bunge, Bahm and Laszlo); mathematical modeling and information theory (e.g. the work of Mesarovic and Klir); and practical applications. Mathematical systems theory arose from the development of isomorphies between the models of electrical circuits and other systems. Applications include engineering, computing, ecology, management, and family psychotherapy. Systems analysis, developed independently of systems theory, applies systems principles to aid a decisIon-maker with problems of identifying, reconstructing, optimizing, and controlling a system (usually a socio-technical organization), while taking into account multiple objectives, constraints and resources. It aims to specify possible courses of action, together with their risks, costs and benefits. Systems theory is closely connected to cybernetics, and also to system dynamics, which models changes in a network of coupled variables (e.g. the "world dynamics" models of Jay Forrester and the Club of Rome). Related ideas are used in the emerging "sciences of complexity", studying self-organization and heterogeneous networks of interacting actors, and associated domains such as far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics, chaotic dynamics, artificial life, artificial intelligence, neural networks, and computer modeling and simulation.

Bowen theory, a natural systems theory of the family, provides a conceptual framework for recognizing the impact of relationships between family members, within organizations and in society on human biology and behavior. Bowen theory can help identify factors that impact health and reproduction and guide the application of knowledge in ways that are specific to the family and to the relationship of influence. 

The first educational programs in Bowen theory were developed by Murray Bowen himself, as he came to see human behavior as a part of evolution, governed by natural forces evident in the rest of life. 

Bowen Theory

Murray Bowen (1913-1990) developed a new theory of human functioning based upon what was considered scientific in the work of Freud upon studies in evolution and the natural sciences and upon his own research.  First called "family systems theory", Bowen theory is a natural systems theory distinct from general systems theory, from the individual theories of psychiatry, medicine and psychology, and from group theories in sociology and sociobiology.

During his study of psychiatry at The Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas from 1946-1954, Bowen read extensively in biology and the study of evolution.  His changing view of human functioning led to development o a research project at the National Institute of Mental Health in which families with a schizophrenic member were studied over a five-year period.  The nuclear family process came alive.  From 1954 to 1959, Dr. Bowen began to define concepts about the family as an emotional system that governs the biology and behavior of individuals.  The first chapters in Family Therapy in Clinical Practice describe early work in defining the difference between conventional theory and this new view of the human as part of a family emotional system.

By the time Bowen came to Georgetown University in 1959, the basic concepts of theory were organized into eight interconnected variables: the emotional system with its variation in the counterbalance between togetherness and individuality; levels of differentiation of self; mechanisms of reactivity in the nuclear family; triangles; multigenerational transmission process; sibling position; anxiety, chronic and acute; and emotional cut off.  no one concept could be explained by another concept.  No one concept could be eliminated or isolated from the theory.  Clinical families, Bowen's own family system, and all of human society were studied within the framework of theory.

Bowen theory is not a theory about pathology, but about the interaction of variables that produce variation in human functioning.  Instead of reducing the explanation of physical illness, for example, to one cause and the effect, natural systems theory outlines related variables to predict individual variation in health.  Any symptoms, be they physical, psychiatric, behavioral, social or societal, are studied within the same broad theoretical framework.  Both biology and behavior are considered under the influence of the same variables.  Symptoms and stability are the outcome of the same variables.

It became obvious early that theoretical differences afforded new avenues and approaches in psychotherapy, medicine, and health care.  The theoretical foundation provides the direction for therapy rather than diagnostic categories, techniques, or emotional reactions of the therapist.  Bowen theory does not focus on the number of family members in the room but upon the thinking of the therapist.  Decisions about who to see are based upon assessment of levels of differentiation of self, and upon determining strengths and leadership within the family.  In this theory, one therapist best consults to the most motivated and responsible family member or to a variety of family members rather than referring family members to different mental health professionals, an individual therapist, a couple's counselor, a child psychologist, etc.


Murray Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1978. 
Michael Kerr, Family Evaluation, 1988. 
Daniel Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, 1990. 
Roberta Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, 1993. 
Family Systems, the Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry, Georgetown Family Center 4400 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Suite 103, Washington, D. C. 20007

Family Systems Theory:

  • is a way of understanding present situations in terms of past relationships or family histories.

  • understands the family as a single emotional unit made up of interlocking relationships existing over many generations.

  • suggests that individual behavior throughout life is more closely related to the functioning in one’s original family than most people realize.

  • attempts to move beyond cause-and-effect thinking to a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple factors which interact across time to produce problems or symptoms.

  • recognizes an interplay between biological, genetic, psychological, and sociological factors in determining individual behavior.

  • identifies some of the ways that human functioning is similar to the functioning of all other forms of life, and postulates that certain principles governing behavior are common to all life forms.

  • views most of human life as being guided by emotional forces which to a varying degree can be regulated by an individuals ability to think. (Emotional here includes a smorgasbord of automatic responses such as those driven by instinct, genetics, biology, and hormones as well as automatic feeling or sensory responses.)

  • postulates that the degree to which individuals may be able to exercise some choice regarding how much they respond to their automatic emotional input can be predicted by understanding the functioning of the family unit.

  • indicates that people are able to modify their responses to the automatic emotional input by undertaking a study of their own patterns of behavior and their link to patterns of behavior in their multigenerational family.

  • is also known as Bowen Theory and Bowen Natural Systems Theory to distinguish it from General Systems Theory and others.


Chaos Theory

Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

Uncertainy Principle

The more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa.


Gestalt Theory

Gestalt theory is a broadly interdisciplinary general theory which provides a framework for a wide variety of psychological phenomena, processes, and applications. Human beings are viewed as open systems in active interaction with their environment. It is especially suited for the understanding of order and structure in psychological events, and has its origins in some orientations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ernst Mach, and particularly of Christian von Ehrenfels and the research work of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka, and Kurt Lewin, who opposed the elementistic approach to psychological events, associationism, behaviorism, and to psychoanalysis. The coming to power of national socialism substantially interrupted the fruitful scientific development of Gestalt theory in the German-speaking world; Koffka, Wertheimer, Köhler and Lewin emigrated, or were forced to flee, to the United States. 

The GTA views as its main task the provision of a scientific and organizational framework for the elaboration and further development of the perspective of Gestalt theory in research and practice. In this sense, Gestalt theory is not limited only to the concept of the Gestalt or the whole, or to the Gestalt principles of the organization of perception (as it is presented in many publications), but must be understood as essentially far broader and more encompassing: - The primacy of the phenomenal: Recognizing and taking seriously the human world of experience as the only immediately given reality, and not simply discussing it away, is a fundamental assertion of Gestalt theory, the fruitfulness of which for psychology and psychotherapy has by no means been exhausted. - It is the interaction of the individual and the situation in the sense of a dynamic field which determines experience and behavior, and not only drives (psychoanalysis, ethology) or external stimuli (behaviorism, Skinner) or static personality traits (classical personality theory). - Connections among psychological contents are more readily and more permanently created on the basis of substantive concrete relationships than by sheer repetition and reinforcement.

  • Thinking and problem solving are characterized by appropriate substantive organization, restructuring, and centering of the given ('insight') in the direction of the desired solution.

  • In memory, structures based on associative connections are elaborated and differentiated according to a tendency for optimal organization.

  • Cognitions which an individual cannot integrate lead to an experience of dissonance and to cognitive processes directed at reducing this dissonance.

  • In a supra-individual whole such as a group, there is a tendency toward specific relationships in the interaction of strengths and needs.

The epistemological orientation of Gestalt theory tends to be a kind of critical realism. Methodologically, the attempt is to achieve a meaningful integration of experimental and phenomenological procedures (theexperimental-phenomenological method). Crucial phenomena are examined without reduction of experimental precision. Gestalt theory is to be understood not as a static scientific position, but as a paradigm that is continuing to develop. Through developments such as the theory of the self-organization of systems, it attains major significance for many of the current concerns of psychology.


Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy was originated about fifty years ago by Frederick 'Fritz' Perls (1893-1970) in collaboration with Paul Goodman.

Perls was born in Berlin and educated in medicine and psychoanalysis. But he later became interested in ideas beyond Freud, partly due to his wife, Laura Posner, a psychologist who had contact with the early Gestalt school of experimental psychology.

Influenced by neurologist Kurt Goldstein, Max Wertheimer, Martin Buber, and others, Perls began to question orthodox psychoanalytic doctrine. His first book, Ego, Hunger and Aggression gives a penetrating critique of Freudianism from the holistic and semantic viewpoints, such as his condemnation of the many misleading abstractions in the analytic terminology.

Perls also borrowed from the academic work of the early Gestalt psychologists, who were mainly concerned with lab experiments in perception. He applied their principles of perceptual organisation to understanding the structure of the human personality as it functions within the organism/environment field.

This first book is significant because in addition to criticising Freud, it also lays the groundwork for a new system of psychotherapy. This novel approach is tentatively called 'concentration therapy', aiming at synthesis, not cold analysis, calling for a natural holistic approach to body and mind, and a fresh face-to-face encounter between therapist and patient. (One of Perls' criticisms of Freud was that by putting the patient on the couch, an artificial situation is created, one that brings the patient even further from good contact, and the subsequent goal of personality integration.)

This short, but original book can serve as a valuable introduction for those interested in how Perls' work developed out of his early analytic training.

The concreteness, the focus on the body, as for example in his discussion of oral and anal problems, and his innovative concept of 'dental aggression' are some of the highlights of this initial study which later came to fruition. Here Perls is trying to develop a new model for psychotherapeutic endeavour, using as a framework holistic and organismic tenets, instead of mechanical association theory.

One of Perls' major contributions to the psychology of the second half of the 20th century is that he offers an alternative to the domination of the Freudian juggernaut.

What is Gestaltian about it? Just as psychoanalysis is based on association theory (viz. 'free association') and behaviour therapy rests on the stimulus-response learning model, it was the aim of Perls to construct a new method based on Gestalt's psychological principles. Wertheimer and the academic Gestalt school had made valuable contributions to perception and cognitive theory, but they neglected the broader realm of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. Perls, however, tried to carry their insights further into this larger arena. Personality, thus conceived, is not organised according to the additive style of behaviourism, nor in associative-symbolic Freudian terms, but instead can be construed as following a 'Gestalt' or configurational pattern. The culmination of these efforts to construct a new system of therapy is reached in his second, and major book, Gestalt Therapy.

This form of psychotherapy has among its roots Gestalt Psychology (a psychology of perception), Existential philosophy, psychoanalysis and bodywork. It was launched in 1952 via a book ‘Gestalt Therapy – Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality’ by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman. It is often associated with Fritz Perls although in reality it was developed by a group of people including his wife Laura.

Gestalt is a practical psychotherapy, the therapist works with the client to be aware of their responses in the here and now. Attention is paid to those times when this might prove difficult, and often slowing down in this way leads to useful insights. As the person talks and explores their personal material, they are encouraged to notice their physical and emotional responses. In addition exploration of communication and contact are important. Unfinished past experiences are seen to repeat themselves in patterns that are happening now which may be causing difficulty. Ultimately, working in this way can bring an increased self-awareness and liveliness of response.

Gestalt therapy does not involve lying on a couch and is practised both as an individual and group therapy. It is communicative, the therapist is not a blank screen and uses their own experience in the session to inform the therapy work. While different therapists will have different styles all will be based on tracking experience in the here and now, including the relationship between client and therapist. Where appropriate exercises may be suggested, which aim to explore new ways of being and of venturing into areas that are difficult for someone to go to.

Gestalt is practised both as an individual and group therapy.


Critical Thinking

A cognitive process (a mode of critical thinking) in which a person generates many unique, creative responses to a single question or problem. This is different from convergent thinking which attempts to find a single, correct answer to a problem.

Creative production is often characterized by the divergent nature of human thought and action. Divergence is usually indicated by the ability to generate many, or more complex or complicated, ideas from one idea or from simple ideas or triggers. Traditionally the eight elements below are ones commonly thought of as inherent elements of creative production, as well as attributes associated with creative problem solving abilities.

Fluency – The ability to generate a number of ideas so that there is an increase of possible solutions or related products.

Flexibility - The ability to produce different categories or perceptions whereby there are a variety of different ideas about the same problem or thing.

Elaboration – The ability to add to, embellish, or build off of an idea or product.

Originality – The ability to create fresh, unique, unusual, totally new, or extremely different ideas or products

Complexity – The ability to conceptualize difficult, intricate, many layered or multifaceted ideas or products.

Risk-taking – The willingness to be courageous, adventuresome, daring -- trying new things or taking risks in order to stand apart.

Imagination – The ability to dream up, invent, or to see, to think, to conceptualize new ideas or products – to be ingenious.

Curiosity – The trait of exhibiting probing behaviors, asking and posing questions, searching, being able to look deeper into ideas, and the wanting to know more about something.


Category Mistake

A category mistake, or category error, native is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category, or, alternatively, a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property. Thomas Szasz argued that minds are not the sort of things that can be said to be diseased or ill because they belong to the wrong category and that "illness" is a term that can only be ascribed to things like the body; saying that the mind is ill is a misuse of words. Another example is the metaphor "time crawled", which if taken literally is not just false but a category mistake. To show that a category mistake has been committed one must typically show that once the phenomenon in question is properly understood, it becomes clear that the claim being made about it could not possibly be true.



convergent thinking


Divergent Thinking

DIVERGE.GIF (7376 bytes)

Convergent Thinking

A set of starting points all lead towards the single correct answer

Divergent Thinking

A starting point leads to a range of new ideas


Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne effect refers to improvements in productivity or quality which result not so much because of intended changes to working conditions, but mainly because the workers are aware of extra attention being paid to them.

It is not so easy to find a simple account of this effect, which is closely related to the Pygmalion effect, the placebo effect, and so on.

Note that "Hawthorne" is not the name of a researcher, but of the factory where the effect was first observed and described: the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric Company in Chicago, 1924-1933.

One definition of the Hawthorne effect is:

  • An experimental effect in the direction expected but not for the reason expected; i.e. a significant positive effect that turns out to have no causal basis in the theoretical motivation for the intervention, but is apparently due to the effect on the participants of knowing themselves to be studied in connection with the outcomes measured.

Parsons (1974) p.930 defined it as:

  • "Generalizing from the particular situation at Hawthorne, I would define the Hawthorne Effect as the confounding that occurs if experimenters fail to realize how the consequences of subjects' performance affect what subjects do".

What was the original Hawthorne effect? Basically, a series of studies on the productivity of workers manipulated various conditions (pay, light levels, rest breaks etc.), but each change resulted on average over time in productivity rising, including eventually a return to the original conditions. This was true of each of the individual workers as well as of the group mean.

Four general conclusions were drawn from the Hawthorne studies:

  • The aptitudes of individuals are imperfect predictors of job performance. Although they give some indication of the physical and mental potential of the individual, the amount produced is strongly influenced by social factors.
  • Informal organization affects productivity. The Hawthorne researchers discovered a group life among the workers. The studies also showed that the relations that supervisors develop with workers tend to influence the manner in which the workers carry out directives.
  • Work-group norms affect productivity. The Hawthorne researchers were not the first to recognize that work groups tend to arrive at norms of what is "a fair day's work," however, they provided the best systematic description and interpretation of this phenomenon.
  • The workplace is a social system. The Hawthorne researchers came to view the workplace as a social system made up of interdependent parts.

For decades, the Hawthorne studies provided the rationale for human relations within the organization. Then two researchers used a new procedure called "time-series analyses." Using the original variables and including in the Great Depression and the instance of a managerial discipline in which two insubordinate and mediocre workers were replaced by two different productive workers (one who took the role of straw boss - see below). They discovered that production was most affected by the replacement of the two workers due to their greater productivity and the affect of the disciplinary action on the other workers. The occurrence of the Depression also encouraged job productivity, perhaps through the increased importance of jobs and the fear of losing them. Rest periods and a group incentive plan also had a somewhat positive smaller effect on productivity. These variables accounted for almost all the variation in productivity during the experimental period. Social science may have been to readily to embrace the original Hawthorne interpretations since it was looking for theories or work motivation that were more humane and democratic. – Franke, R.H. & Kaul, J.D. "The Hawthorne experiments: First statistical interpretation." American Sociological Review, 1978, 43, 623-643.


Placebo Effect

The placebo effect (also known as non-specific effects) is the phenomenon that a patient's symptoms can be alleviated by an otherwise ineffective treatment, apparently because the individual expects or believes that it will work. Some people consider this to be a remarkable aspect of human physiology; others consider it to be an illusion arising from the way medical experiments were conducted.

In the opposite effect, a patient who disbelieves in a treatment may experience a worsening of symptoms. This nocebo effect (from the Latin for "I will harm") can be measured in the same way as the placebo effect, e.g., when members of a control group receiving an inert substance report a worsening of symptoms. The inert substance can act either as a placebo or nocebo, depending on the expectations of the recipients.

The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to treatment. This effect is believed by many people to be due to the placebo itself in some mysterious way. A placebo (Latin for “I shall please”) is a medication or treatment believed by the administrator of the treatment to be inert or innocuous. Placebos may be sugar pills or starch pills. Even “fake” surgery and “fake” psychotherapy are considered placebos.

Researchers and medical doctors sometimes give placebos to patients. Anecdotal evidence for the placebo effect is garnered in this way. Those who believe there is scientific evidence for the placebo effect point to clinical studies, many of which use a control group treated with a placebo. Why an inert substance, or a fake surgery or therapy, would be effective is not known.

the psychological theory: it's all in your mind

Some believe the placebo effect is psychological, due to a belief in the treatment or to a subjective feeling of improvement. Irving Kirsch, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut, believes that the effectiveness of Prozac and similar drugs may be attributed almost entirely to the placebo effect. He and Guy Sapirstein analyzed 19 clinical trials of antidepressants and concluded that the expectation of improvement, not adjustments in brain chemistry, accounted for 75 percent of the drugs' effectiveness (Kirsch 1998).  "The critical factor," says Kirsch, "is our beliefs about what's going to happen to us. You don't have to rely on drugs to see profound transformation." In an earlier study, Sapirstein analyzed 39 studies, done between 1974 and 1995, of depressed patients treated with drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. He found that 50 percent of the drug effect is due to the placebo response.

A person's beliefs and hopes about a treatment, combined with their suggestibility, may have a significant biochemical effect. Sensory experience and thoughts can affect neurochemistry. The body's neurochemical system affects and is affected by other biochemical systems, including the hormonal and immune systems. Thus, it is consistent with current knowledge that a person's hopeful attitude and beliefs may be very important to their physical well-being and recovery from injury or illness.

However, it may be that much of the placebo effect is not a matter of mind over molecules, but of mind over behavior. A part of the behavior of a "sick" person is learned. So is part of the behavior of a person in pain. In short, there is a certain amount of role-playing by ill or hurt people. Role-playing is not the same as faking or malingering. The behavior of sick or injured persons is socially and culturally based to some extent. The placebo effect may be a measurement of changed behavior affected by a belief in the treatment. The changed behavior includes a change in attitude, in what one says about how one feels, and how one acts. It may also affect one's body chemistry.

The psychological explanation seems to be the one most commonly believed. Perhaps this is why many people are dismayed when they are told that the effective drug they are taking is a placebo. This makes them think that their problem is "all in their mind" and that there is really nothing wrong with them. Yet, there are too many studies which have found objective improvements in health from placebos to support the notion that the placebo effect is entirely psychological.


Pygmalion Effect

(also known as Rosenthal effect) is a finding that people tend to behave as you expect they will.

Oak School study

In a study by two psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968), published in their book Pygmalion in the Classroom, the experimenters told teachers that twenty percent of the children in a certain school showed unusual potential for intellectual growth. The names of 20 percent of the students were selected randomly, and revealed to the teachers. Eight months later, the chosen children showed significantly greater gains in IQ than the children who hadn't been showered with attention.

One educational reformer concluded:

"Labeling matters, and the younger the person getting the label is, the more it matters."

James Rhem commented:

  • "When teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways."
  • "How we believe the world is and what we honestly think it can become have powerful effects on how things turn out."
  • "Rosenthal acknowledges how frustrating it is to know how powerfully teacher expectation affects student performance and not to know how to immediately use that information to improve teaching across the board."

There is much more on the this study at Hawthorne effect.


Rosenthal got the name of his concept from the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion, later popularized by the musical My Fair Lady. The character Henry Higgins believes the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle can be made into a lady. Higgins' belief in her drives her to make it. (The play in turn was named after the ancient myth of Pygmalion and his statue, which the gods brought to life for him.)


Mastery Learning

John B Carroll inaugurated a fundamental change in thinking about the characteristics of instruction in 1963 when he argued for the idea that student aptitudes are reflective of an individuals learning rate. In this new paradigm, Carroll suggested that instruction should focus more on the time required for different students to learn the same material. This was in contrast with the classic model in which all students are given the same amount of time to learn and the focus is on differences in ability.

He called this learning rate, LR, the degree of learning, which is demonstrated in the formula:

               LR =  f ( time spent learning / time needed to learn)

This describes that the learning rate is a function of the time a learner has to learn to the time he actually needs to learn a given situation of instruction. Carroll's new theory was based on the idea that all learners can have the potential to learn any instruction given, but take different amounts of time to do so. So when a learner's aptitude is seem the context as an index or the learning rate then students are not seen a good or bad learners, but as fast or slow learners (Guskey, 1997).

Carroll identified two factors that affected the learning rate of a student, perseverance of the student, and the opportunity to learn. The first is controlled by the student, that is, how much time they spend on learning, the former is the time allotted to learn by the classroom, or access to materials, etc.

However, it was Bloom in 1968 who fully developed the concepts now known as Mastery Learning. In the 1960s, Benjamin Bloom was involved in research on individual differences as applied to learning. Impressed with Carrolls ideas, he took them further by concluding that if, (1) aptitude could predict a learner's learning rate, then he believed that it should be able to set the degree of learning expected of a student to some level of mastery performance. Then, (2) see to the instructional variables under an instructors control, such as the opportunity to learn and the quality of the instruction. Thus, (3) the instructor should be able to ensure that each learner can attain the specified objective.  Bloom concluded that given sufficient time and quality instruction, nearly all students could learn.

The theories of Mastery Learning resulted in a radical shift in responsibility for teachers; the blame for a student's failure rests with the instruction not a lack of ability on the part of the student. In this type of  learning environment, the challenge becomes providing enough time and employing instructional strategies so that all students can achieve the same level of learning (Levine, 1985; Bloom, 1981).

How to instruct for mastery:

     1.  Clearly state the objectives representing the purposes of the course. 
     2.  The curriculum is divided into relatively small learning units, each with their own objectives and assessment.
     3.  Learning materials and instructional strategies are identified; teaching, modeling, practice, formative evaluation, reteaching, reinforcement, and summative evaluation are included. 
     4.  Each unit is preceded by brief diagnostic tests, or formative assessments. 
     5.  The results of formative tests are used to provide supplementary instruction, or corrective 
activities to help the learner overcome problems.


As a matter of curriculum development, mastery learning does not focus on content, but on the process of mastering it.  Curriculum materials can be designed by inhouse Instructional designers, or via a team approach various professionals in a given setting either in a school, industry, or military. Or instructional materials can be obtained via prepared materials from an outside commercial source. A combination of this is also apparent. However, the instructional materials are developed or obtained, the teachers must evaluate the materials they plan to use to ensure that they match the instructional objectives set up for a given course of instruction.

The mastery learning model is closely aligned with the use of instructional objectives and the systematic design of instructional (ISD) programs (see Gagne,  et al). The Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI) model of Mager of evaluating terminal behaviors is an attempt to implement the mastery learning model. Here the instructor can assess students progress based on the objectives of the instruction rather the traditional norm-referenced test. In addition, the theoretical framework of Skinner with its emphasis on individualized learning and the importance of feedback (reinforcement) is also relevant to mastery learning. Mastery learning ensures numerous feedback loops, based on small units of well-defined, appropriately sequenced outcomes.

A quick summary:

Mastery Learning, ML,  is an instructional strategy based on the principle that all students can learn a set of reasonable objectives with appropriate instruction and sufficient time to learn. ML puts the techniques of tutoring and individualized instruction into a group learning situation and brings the learning strategies of successful students to nearly all the students of a given group. In its full form it includes a philosophy, curriculum structure, instructional model, the alignment of student assessment, and a teaching approach. 


   1.Students have prerequisite skills to move to next unit 
   2.Requires teachers to do task analysis, thereby becoming better prepared to teach the unit 
   3.Requires teachers to state objectives before designating activities 
   4.Can break cycle of failure (especially important for minority and disadvantaged students)

Disadvantages (easily dealt with in most cases):

   1.Not all students will progress at same pace; this requires students who have demonstrated 
     mastery to wait for those who have not or to individualize instruction 
   2.Must have a variety of materials for remediation: 
   3.Must have several tests for each unit 
   4.If only objective tests are used, can lead to memorizing and learning specifics rather than 
     higher levels of learning


Conditions of Learning  (R. Gagne)


This theory stipulates that there are several different types or levels of learning. The significance of these classifications is that each different type requires different types of instruction. Gagne identifies five major categories of learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills and attitudes. Different internal and external conditions are necessary for each type of learning. For example, for cognitive strategies to be learned, there must be a chance to practice developing new solutions to problems; to learn attitudes, the learner must be exposed to a credible role model or persuasive arguments.

Gagne suggests that learning tasks for intellectual skills can be organized in a hierarchy according to complexity: stimulus recognition, response generation, procedure following, use of terminology, discriminations, concept formation, rule application, and problem solving. The primary significance of the hierarchy is to identify prerequisites that should be completed to facilitate learning at each level. Prerequisites are identified by doing a task analysis of a learning/training task. Learning hierarchies provide a basis for the sequencing of instruction.

In addition, the theory outlines nine instructional events and corresponding cognitive processes:

(1) gaining attention (reception) 
(2) informing learners of the objective (expectancy) 
(3) stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval) 
(4) presenting the stimulus (selective perception) 
(5) providing learning guidance (semantic encoding) 
(6) eliciting performance (responding) 
(7) providing feedback (reinforcement) 
(8) assessing performance (retrieval) 
(9) enhancing retention and transfer (generalization).

These events should satisfy or provide the necessary conditions for learning and serve as the basis for designing instruction and selecting appropriate media (Gagne, Briggs & Wager, 1992).


While Gagne's theoretical framework covers all aspects of learning, the focus of the theory is on intellectual skills. The theory has been applied to the design of instruction in all domains (Gagner & Driscoll, 1988). In its original formulation (Gagne, 1 962), special attention was given to military training settings. Gagne (1987) addresses the role of instructional technology in learning.


The following example illustrates a teaching sequence corresponding to the nine instructional events for the objective, Recognize an equilateral triangle:

1. Gain attention - show variety of computer generated triangles 
2. Identify objective - pose question: "What is an equilateral triangle?" 
3. Recall prior learning - review definitions of triangles 
4. Present stimulus - give definition of equilateral triangle 
5. Guide learning- show example of how to create equilateral 
6. Elicit per formance - ask students to create 5 different examples 
7. Provide feedback - check all examples as correct/incorrect 
8. Assess performance- provide scores and remediation 
9. Enhance retention/transfer - show pictures of objects and ask students to identify equilaterals

Gagne (1985, chapter 12) provides examples of events for each category of learning outcomes.


1. Different instruction is required for different learning outcomes. 
2. Events of learning operate on the learner in ways that constitute the conditions of learning. 
3. The specific operations that constitute instructional events are different for each different type of learning outcome.
4. Learning hierarchies define what intellectual skills are to be learned and a sequence of instruction.


Gagne, R. (1962). Military training and principles of learning. American Psychologist, 17, 263-276. 
Gagne, R. (1985). The Conditions of Learning (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston . 
Gagne, R. (1987). Instructional Technology Foundations. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. 
Gagne, R. & Driscoll, M. (1988). Essentials of Learning for Instruction (2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 
Gagne, R., Briggs, L. & Wager, W. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design (4th Ed.). Fort Worth, TX: HBJCollege Publishers.


Robert Gagné (1985) classified the types of learning outcomes. A good way to identify the types of learning is to ask how learning could be demonstrated:
  • intellectual skills - concepts
    are demonstrated by labelling or classifying things,
  • intellectual skills - rules
    are applied and principles are demonstrated,
  • intellectual skills - problem solving
    allows generating solutions or procedures,
  • cognitive strategies
    are used for learning,
  • verbal information
    is stated,
  • motor skills
    enable physical performance,
  • attitudes
    are demonstrated by preferring options.

These outcomes are the results of the internal processes of learning in individual learners. They provide the learners with the improved capabilities which we desire. The external conditions of learning (such as instruction) which cause the learning are different for different types of learning outcome. For example, we need to do different things to learn attitudes than to learn intellectual skills or motor skills. Nonetheless, Gagné suggests that although different in detail, the same types of instructional activity are needed for all learning processes and learning outcomes. He suggests that there are nine general Instructional Events which are always relevant, even though in detail they will vary with the type of learning outcome being achieved, and with the specific content of the learning


The Seven Types of Intelligence

 Psychologist Howard Gardner identified the following distinct types of intelligence. They are listed here with respect to gifted / talented children.

  1. Linguistic Children with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.
  2. Logical-Mathematical Children with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.
  3. Bodily-Kinesthetic These kids process knowledge through bodily sensations. They are often athletic, dancers or good at crafts such as sewing or woodworking.
  4. Spatial These children think in images and pictures. They may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing, building with Leggos or daydreaming.
  5. Musical Musical children are always singing or drumming to themselves. They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss. These kids are often discriminating listeners.
  6. Interpersonal Children who are leaders among their peers, who are good at communicating and who seem to understand others' feelings and motives possess interpersonal intelligence.
  7. Intrapersonal These children may be shy. They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.


Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level...the recall of information.

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. Verb examples that represent intellectual activity on each level are listed here.

  1. Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.
  2. Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,
  3. Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.
  4. Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.
  5. Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.
  6. Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate.

Bloom's Taxonomy


Criterion Referenced Instruction

The Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI) framework developed by Robert Mager is a comprehensive set of methods for the design and delivery of training programs. Some of the critical aspects include: (1) goal/task analysis -- to identify what needs to be learned, (2) performance objectives -- exact specification of the outcomes to be accomplished and how they are to be evaluated (the criterion), (3) criterion referenced testing -- evaluation of learning in terms of the knowledge/skills specified in the objectives, (4) development of learning modules tied to specific objectives.

Training programs developed in CRI format tend to be self-paced courses involving a variety of different media (e.g., workbooks, videotapes, small group discussions, computer-based instruction). Students learn at their own pace and take tests to determine if they have mastered a module. A course manager administers the program and helps students with problems.

CRI is based upon the ideas of mastery learning and performance-oriented instruction. It also incorporates many of the ideas found in Gagne's coditions of learning (e.g., task hierarchies, objectives) and is compatible with most theories of adult learning (e.g., andragogy, experiential learning) because of its emphasis on learner initiative and self-management.


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