System Approach


Systems engineering. This
approach entails analysis of problems and synthesis solutions. In the analysis phase, a given situation is examined to
identify the forces affecting it. The
situation is viewed as a system composed of interconnected parts and related to
other systems. For example a
classroom may be portrayed as a system in which teachers collaborate with
students in the shared construction of meaning in the context of community
expectations under the constrains of limited time and resources.
Analyses are constructed to determine the sorts of knowledge and skills
most useful to students and the order in which these should be learned.
In the synthesis phase, modifications in the system (inventions) are
designed to overcome forces that interfere with the achievement of the
system’s goals. In classroom,
such modifications generally take the form of instructional programs. In
his book of the Selection and use of Instructional Media, Romiszowski (1997)
sums up the following ideas of the system approach, on page 31.
Systems An overall
approach which involves tackling problems in a
approach disciplined manner keeping priorities in mind. The
subsystem definition
making up the overall system can be designed, fitted, checked and
operated so as to achieve the overall objective efficiently
(Rowntree, 1974).
Properties of Inputs, outputs and processes are defined in relation to each the systems other. A change in one part will affect all other parts. Each decision is justified in terms of preplaned objectives. Systems models are used which show how each phase fits into the next and feedback loops facilitate revision and preview. Environmental constraints which impinge on the school or teaching centre are considered. Systematic consideration of the suitability of solutions to problems as compared to their alternatives is carried out.
Description The systems approach is a problemsolving method which helps to: 1. Define the problem as clearly as possible. 2. Analyse the problem and identify alternative solutions. 3. Select from the alternatives and develop the most viable solution mix. 4. Implement and test the solution. 5. Evaluate the effectiveness and worth of the solution.
Comment The systems approach is not necessarily a stepbystep process. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation are recurring stages repeated throughout the process and not necessarily in the traditional format of beginning, middle and end. Therefore heuristic problemsolving techniques are often better suited than algorithmic procedures. The heuristic process features the creative use of general principles rather than the employment of specific rules. Although it does not lead necessarily to a solution at all times, it does increase the possibility of arriving at a viable solution.
Example Polya´s approach to mathematical problem solving is an example of the systems approach in practice (see Polya (1945) How To Solve It ). 1. You must first understand the problem. 2. You must find the connection between data and the unknown and obtain a plan of the solution. 3. Carry out the plan. 4.
Examine the
solution obtained The
system approach had it influence on instructional designing and yielding from
these ideas were Bloom’s ‘Learning
for Mastery’ and Keller´s ‘Personalized System of Instruction’. Bloom
developed a system for mastery learning.
In this system, mastery is defined in terms of specific educational
objectives, and mastery of each unit is essential for students before they
advance to the next one. 3.4 Bloom mastery learning.
“Each teacher begins a new term or course with the expectation that
about a third of his students will adequately learn what he has to teach.
He expects about a third to fail or just ‘get by’. Finally, he
expects another third to learn a good deal of what he has to teach, but not
enough to regard them as a ´good student’ (Bloom, Hastings, Madaus, 1971,
p.,43)
Bloom considered these expectations, built upon the normal curve, as the
most wasteful and destructive aspect of the
educational system. He
believed that most students, or about 90%, could master what is to be taught.
The basic instructional task was to define the course into educational
units and find methods and material to help the students to reach the set level.
Then the student would be tested with a formative test that would either
indicate mastery or emphasise on what was still needed to be learned, to reach
the next level. To reach mastery the student needed to get 80  90 % right. Bloom
based his theory of Learning for Mastery on Caroll’s model of learning which
is:
1.Time allowed, 2. Perseverance.
L = 3.Aptitude, 4.Quality of instruction. 5. Ability to Understand Instruction. This
model testifies that if students are normally distributed with regard to
aptitude for some subject and all students are given exactly the same
instruction and learning time, then achievement measured when the task is
finished will be normally distributed. Under
such circumstances the correlation between aptitude and achievement will be
relatively high. On the contrary,
if students are normally distributed with respect to aptitude, but the quality
of instruction and time allowed for learning are made suitable for the needs of
each learner then most students will achieve mastery in set task. The
correlation between aptitude and achievement should advance to zero
(Block.,1970). In
developing mastery learning it is essential
to define what mastery is and whether or not a student has attained it.
Therefor it is necessary to make a specification of objectives and the contend
of instructions, and translate these into evaluation procedure. The evaluation
is both formative and summative. Given
a description of the learning task
for each unit, a constructed brief diagnostic progress test, a formative test,
is given to determine which of the unit’s tasks have or have not been
mastered. Frequent formative
evaluation tests pace the student’s learning
and help them to put forward necessary effort at the right time.
The main purpose of the formative testing is to observe the learning
process not to grate the student’s achievement.
These tests also provide information for the teachers of what
instructions need modifications. The
summative evaluation is a general assessment which ‘sums up’ the total
achievement in the course and grate the students. Bloom
(1968) suggests that the mastery model to teaching will greatly improve the
performance of low  aptitude students and will have a smaller effect on high 
aptitude students. Because of
individualised classes give students the time and instruction they individually
need, the model suggests, high levels of achievement should be reacted by all
students not only a few. Another
plan for mastery learning called Personalised System of Instruction was
developed by Keller and his colleges Assi, Bori and Sherman when they were
developing a new department of psychology in the university of Brasilia.
PSI or Kellers Plan as it is sometimes called, was developed for higher
education whereas Blooms mastery was to accomplishment mastery learning in the
schoolroom. 3.5 Kellers Plan. This
system is derived from the behaviourists reinforcement psychology and with
Skinners ideas of teaching machines and programmed instructions.
The group had in mind that students would perform better if they found
satisfaction in their work. They
meant that positive consequences (instructors praise, good grades, feeling of
achievement) were more important than the negative one (boredom, failure or
other forms of punishment). The plan they developed consists of five main
elements:
1. Mastery criteria,
2. Self pace,
3. Stress upon the written word,
4. The use of proctors 5. Lectures used for motivation rather than sources of information.
1. PSI course is divided into units and students have
to show a mastery of the unit to
be able to go ahead. The mastery level is usually set at 85  100%
result. After
studying for a unit, students are assessed by the proctors and if they
fail to reach the
mastery level the students try again until they pass. 2. Students are allowed to study at their own pace
and no restrain on the students
study time. The student can take the unit quiz when he is prepared to
show mastery on the subject. If he
fails it will not be held against him, and he will be able to repeat it whenever
he is ready. 3. Stress upon the written word is another factor in
PSI. The course is based upon a standard textbook, journal articles and other
reading. The course has a study
guide. A typical guide would
consist of, an introduction, statements of objectives, procedure, study
questions and supplementary material decided
by the course design. 4. The use of proctors is also specific for PSI.
Proctors are undergraduate students who have successfully finished the
course and are aware of the problems and questions that new students in the
course come across with. Their job
is to assist the students, score their quiz and react as a feedback to the
instructor of the course in general. 5. The lectures in the PSI plan are not for
instructional purpose but for enrichment and
to provide inspiration. The
instructor might have a lecture when a certain number of students have passed
certain number of units. The
effect of PSI courses has been measured in many ways.
Kulik, Kulik and Smith 1976 reviewed some studies which investigated PSI.
They asked if PSI was effective regarding: 1.
End of course performance. 2.
Retention 3.
Transfer 4.
Attitudes They
found out: 1. End of course performance.
Some college studies showed that 38 out of 39 performed better with PSI
method than the conventional ones. An
average student who would score 50% under conventional method would score 75%
under PSI. In a meta analysis
conducted by Kulik, Kulik and Choen, the result of comparison between
conventional teaching and PSI showed that 48 out of 61 studies reported
statistically significant difference in favour of PSI.
In the typical PSI class in this set of studies the final examination
average was 73,6; in the typical conventional class the average was 65,9. The difference between PSI and conventional classes was
significant at a very high level of confidence, t(47) = 12,04, p
< .0001. 2. Retention. In the research of Kulik, Kulik and
Smith 1976, 9 studies investigated retention over intervals ranging from 3 weeks
to 15 months. In each of the
studies the PSI students performed better than the students who had traditional
lectures. These 9 studies
strongly suggested that PSI promotes more than rote memorisation, it does not
only help to learn factual information but also the meaningful application and
concepts. 3. Transfer. If students learning under PSI plan
later join a course taught traditionally, they are more likely to perform better
than those that have not had any PSI experience.
Studies done on transfer show that PSI students learn deeper than rote
memorisation. This has lead to the
hypotheses of that a) sequence learning make PSI students more advanced than
others, b) PSI provides pleasant first encounters with the subject and helps to
build the student’s sense of competence
in a discipline c) students pick up good study habits in PSI courses, and learn
how to study independently (Kulik, Kulik, Smith., 1976, p.,24). 4. Attitude. Most
of the investigation found that students react favourably to PSI.
One or two out of 50 in a class react negatively to a PSI course.
In Kulik,Kulik and Cohen 1979 meta analysis, 10 out of 11 rated in favour
of overall PSI quality, 8 out of 8
in favour of learning, 6 out of 8 in favour of enjoyment and 7 out of 8 in
favour of workload (p.,312). What
it was that made PSI more effective rather than the conventional learning was,
according to Kulik, Kulik and Smith 1976, was: 1. Small units of work, 2.
Immediate feedback at every step, 3. A requirement of mastery at every step.
Other not as crucial factors were: 4.
Interaction with proctors, 5: Self pacing, 6. Absence
of regular lectures. According
to Bloom (1968) nearly all students can achieve mastery of material in a course
given enough time and quality of instruction that they need.
Teaching for mastery raises the overall level of achievement and reduces
variations of performance. The
strongest influence of mastery teaching is for the weaker students.
Mastery learning has shown that student's performance rises and students
have a successful and rewarding experience learning under mastery conditions
rather than the traditional methods. 
Roundstone the band see their site here Some photos from Iceland see here
Sólrún B. Kristinsdóttir © 2001 Síðast uppfært 21.10.2008 