Skip to main content

The Triad of Science Foundations, Instructional Technology, and Organizational Structure

  • E.A. Vargas (a1)

Over the centuries and across all societies educational achievement does not improve. The attempt to improve the instructional process has concentrated on instructional technology. But these attempts have overlooked the importance of two other factors: the science that should underlie the instructional technologies and the organization that must operate those technologies. A considerable step forward in handling the problems of instructional effectiveness has been the derivation of instructional technologies based on Skinnerian science. But the instructional technologies based on Skinner's analysis of behavior are promoted as if they were to operate in an organizational vacuum. The division of labor, and its necessary coordination and control, is taken for granted. But in any large scale enterprise, the organization of the division of labor must fit the technology through which that enterprise achieves its mission. Educational technology must tie directly to a pertinent science and to a proper organizational structure. To teach effectively requires an overhaul along three lines: 1) a relevant science that reflects and encapsulates an accurate understanding of behavior; 2) a contingency-based technology of instruction that directly derives its practices upon proper scientific principles; and 3) a suitable organization based on teaching teams that operate the new instructional technology.

A lo largo de los siglos y en todas las sociedades la educación no ha avanzado. Los intentos de mejorar el proceso de instrucción se han concentrado en la tecnología de la instrucción. Pero estos intentos no han tenido en cuenta la importancia de otros dos factores: la ciencia que debería fundamentar las tecnologías de la instrucción y la organización que utiliza esas tecnologías. Un importante paso adelante en el manejo de los problemas de la eficacia instruccional ha sido la formulación de tecnologías de la instrucción basadas en la ciencia skinneriana. Sin embargo, las tecnologías de la instrucción basadas en el análisis de la conducta skineriano se promueven como si hubieran de operar en un vacío organizacional. La división del trabajo, y su necesaria coordinación y control, se dan por supuestas. Pero en cualquier proyecto a gran escala, la organización de la división del trabajo debe ajustarse a la tecnología mediante la cual ese proyecto cumple su misión. La tecnología educacional debe ligarse directamente a una ciencia pertinente y a una estructura organizativa adecuada. Enseñar eficazmente requiere una reforma en tres direcciones: 1) una ciencia relevante que refleje y encapsule una comprensión adecuada de la conducta; 2) una tecnología de la instrucción basada en la contingencia que derive su práctica de principios científicos correctos; y 3) una organización adecuada basada en equipos docentes que empleen la nueva tecnología de la instrucción.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to E.A. Vargas, B.F. Skinner Foundation, 12 Arrow St. # 303, Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States. E-mail:
Hide All
Arnow, H. (1954/1972). The doll maker. New York: Avon Books.
Bishop, M. (1970). The middle ages. New York: American Heritage Press.
Bondy, A. (2002). PECS and verbal behavior. In Frost, L. & Bondy, A. (Eds.), The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Training Manual, 2nd Ed.. Newark, DE: Pyramid Educational Products.
Bracey, G. W. (October 2002). The 12th Bracey report on the condition of public education. Phi Delta Kappan, 84, 2, 135150.
Calkin, A. B. (2003). The course of precision teaching. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 4, 8796.
Chandler, A. D. Jr. (2002). Inventing the electronic century. New York: The Free Press.
Donne, J. (1633/1991) Satire 3, The search for true religion. In Jones, Emrys (Ed.), The new Oxford book of sixteenth century verse (pp. 629631). Walton Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Friedman, T. L. (2000). The lexus and the olive tree. New York: Anchor Books.
Greer, R. D. (2002). Designing teaching strategies. New York: Academic Press.
Mechner, F. (1995). Learning and practicing skilled performance. New York: The Mechner Foundation.
Morrow, J. E., Terzich, B. J., & Williamson, P. N. (2004). Preliminary outcomes of a school based behavior program for children with autism spectrum disorders. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Pryor, K. (1999). Don't shoot the dog: The new art of teaching and training (Rev.ed.). New York, Bantam Books.
Skinner, B. F. (1938/1991). The behavior of organisms. Cambridge, Massachusetts: B. F. Skinner Foundation.
Skinner, B. F. (1957/2002). Verbal behavior. Cambridge, MA: B. F. Skinner Foundation.
Symonds, W. C. (2002, October 14). Closing the school gap. Business Week, 124125.
Tu, J. (2004, March). The role of joint control in the manded selection selection of responses of non-vocal children with autism. Paper presented at the 16th Convention of the International Society for Behaviorology, Boston, MA.
Vargas, E. A. (1996a). Explanatory frameworks and the thema of agency. Behaviorology, 4, 3042.
Vargas, E. A. (1996b). A university for the twenty-first century. In Cautela, J.R. & Ishaq, W. (Eds.), Contemporary issues in behavior therapy: Improving the human condition. New York: Plenum Press.
Vargas, J. S. (2003). Precision teaching and Skinner's legacy. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 4, 8086.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed