It consists of self-teaching with the aid of a textbook or teaching machine that presents material structured in a logical sequence. Programmed instruction allows students to answer questions about a unit of study at their own rate, checking their own answers and advancing only after answering correctly. After each step, they are presented with a question to test their comprehension, then are immediately shown the correct answer or given additional information.
This idea was later adapted by Robert M. Gagné, who invented programmed learning for use in teaching in schools. The difference between programmed instruction (PI) and programmed learning (PL) is that PI is intended to modify behavior, whereas PL is used for teaching facts and skills.
Programmed instruction is through early efforts to implement Skinner's basic research findings on learning at Harvard that caused errorless discrimination techniques to be developed. Programmed instruction had some early success in aphasia rehabilation .
While not as popular, programmed instruction continues to be used today. Recently, the application of programmed instruction principles was applied to training in computer programs and combined with Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy to teach college students . Some have argued that there is a resurgence of research on programmed instruction due to use of computers and the internet,