OBE: The Restructuring Of American Society.
There has been a concern for some time throughout America regarding the
quality of public education. Students are graduating from highschool without
adequate knowledge of the three R's. Universities are recruiting a multitude of
incompetent pseudo-scholars. Employers don't understand why the new generation of
workers do not possess the basic skills to perform the job. It would appear that
American students are not learning as much as their parents did. And yet, teachers
are still teaching, taxes are still being paid, and more funds than ever are being
appropriated for public education. What's going on in America's classrooms?
Up until the 1980's most schools used a standards based curriculum. In the
traditional classroom setting, educators focused on the input side of education,
teaching a specific body of knowledge. Students were graded against predefined
standards and passed or failed based on their ability to meet those standards. This
method of teaching produced a graduate with a well rounded education, and prepared
him for further development of
career skills. With the exception of those who did
not apply themselves, the system worked.
Today America's educators take a new approach in the classroom. The focus of
education has moved to measuring what students can do, rather than what they
understand. This is the core principle of Outcomes Based Education (OBE). An
outcome, by definition, is something that follows as a result or consequence. So
OBE then, is an approach to education where the end result is the most important
factor. This is very important in understanding what OBE is, and what it intends to
do. In the OBE classroom,
every aspect of the curriculum is geared toward achieving a small group of specific
goals. To gain an insight into OBE, it is necessary to learn something about its
origins and those promoting it.
B. F. Skinner, a psychologist and learning theorist, developed the techniques of
learning (operant conditioning) based on conditioning phenomena first analyzed
scientifically by Pavlov. Skinner called his technique his "teaching machine."
Skinner thus developed the principles on which "Mastery Learning" was developed by
Mastery Learning was the original name for the process known today as Outcome Based
Education, also known as Performance Based Education, or Restructuring. Educational
theories used in OBE are based on Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational
Objectives. A curriculum, according to Bloom, ".
..may be thought of as a plan for
changing student behavior." (p 14 of Ron Sunseri's book OBE: Understanding the
Truth about Education Reform, Questar Publishers, P.O. Box 1720, Sisters, OR 97759)
Bloom called it "Mastery Learning." Techniques for his new style of education,
based on Skinnerian behavioral psychology, focus on stimulus-response conditioning.
Bloom said the mission of education is to change the thoughts, actions and feelings