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2. A theory of instruction must specify the ways in which a body of knowledge should be structured so that it can be mostreadily grasped by the learner.3. A theory of instruction should specify the most effective sequences in which to present the materials to be learned.4. A theory of instruction should specify the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments in the process of learning and teaching.
Any attempts to determine whether a theory of instruction meets Bruner’s four criteria should include considerations of the following types of questions:Are there materials that will increase a student’s desire to learn? If so, what are they?How can I, as a teacher, enhance the students’ will to learn? What can be done to make students eager to learn the material?What is the most effective method of presentation for this material? Is an interactive or representative presentation best suited for this material? Bruner (1966) identifies modes of presentation in a hierarchical system involving an enactive mode, iconic mode, and symbolic mode (pp. 10–14). The firstlevel, the enactive mode, requires action on the part of the learner; the second level, the iconic mode, refers to the process of mentally organizing material; and the third level, the symbolic mode, involves use of symbols such as language.Are the learning materials, tools, and even material appropriate for the level of the students?
What is the optimal presentation sequence? Is the holistic approach most effective, or should the teacher teach the foundations of the material and then supply the details?What and when are rewards to be administered? How will theinstruction handle students’ successes and errors?Bruner predicates his system on the will to learn, a trait he believes to exist in all people. The will to learn is an intrinsicmotive, one that finds both its source and its reward in its own exercise. The will to learn becomes a problemonly under specialized circumstances such as those of a school, where a curriculum is set, students confined, and a path fixed. The problem exists not so much in learning itself, but in the fact that what the school imposes often fails to enlist the natural energies that sustain spontaneous learning—curiosity, a desire for competence, aspiration to emulate a model, and a deep-sensed commitment to the web of social reciprocity (the human need to respond to others and to operate jointly with them toward an objective) (1966, pp. 125–127).Bruner (1960) further distinguishes teaching in the expository mode and teaching in the hypothetical mode:In the former, the decisions concerning the mode and pace
and style of exposition are principally determined by the teacher as expositor; the student is the listener. . . . In the hypothetical mode, the teacher and the student are in a more cooperative position. . . . The student is not a bench-bound listener, but takes a part in the formulation and at times may play the principal role in it.