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The role of computers in mastery-based courses

Abstract

One of the interesting educational developments in the past few years has been the rise of a new method of structuring courses, emphasizing that the students should master each topic in the course. These courses usually offer students greater flexibility with regard to their rate of progress through these courses. Variants of this system are called The Keller Plan, Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), and mastery learning. Although these methods are not a panacea, they offer interesting new possibilities for organizing courses, while also presenting new types of problems.

The purpose of the present paper is to review the roles of the computer as a learning device in mastery courses. I argue that the computer has some unique capabilities for assisting in such courses. Illustrations will be drawn from projects of the Educational Technology Center, undertaken with the assistance of the National Science Foundation and the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.

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