Psychology of Learning for Instruction, 2nd Edition / the Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning
Swain, Philip H., Journal of Engineering Education
PEDAGOGICALLY DRIVEN INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN AND THE ENGINEERING CLASSROOM Psychology of Learning for Instruction, 2nd edition by Many Perkins Driscoll Allyn & Bacon, 1999, 448 pages, ISBN 0205263216
The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning by James E. Zull Stylus Publishing, 2002, 263 pages, ISBN 1579220541
Of necessity, engineering professors know a lot about designing things; few know much about instructional design and, in particular, how instructional design relates to theories of how people learn.
Returning to full-time faculty duties following a long stretch in university administration, I decided to utilize a semester's sabbatical leave doing something that engineering faculty members rarely find the opportunity to do. I spent four months studying theories of learning and instruction. I was motivated to do this by the desire to develop a pedagogically driven approach to the design of online courses. But an unexpected result has been a new perspective on how we should approach teaching engineering, even in the face-to-face classroom.
As we know, "instructional technology," the convergence of computer and communications technologies within the realm of teaching and learning, has already had profound effects on education at all levels, pre-K to post-graduate, and in many disciplines including engineering. Some of these effects are seen in the face-to-face classroom, where diverse media enhance the presentation of instructional content while the World Wide Web enhances access to content from locations far and wide. Through distance education, the Web and other telecommunications modalities are being employed to facilitate access to lifelong learning programs for "anyone" at "anytime" and "anyplace."
Many studies  have demonstrated that the learning outcomes of technology-mediated distance education can be at least as favorable as face-to face education. (In fact, it has been shown rather convincingly that, based on learning outcomes, instructional effectiveness is technology neutral in the sense that equally good results can be obtained whether or not technology is employed and, when it is, regardless of the type(s) of technology used-audio, TV, Internet, etc.) The majority of these studies are based on a model for distance teaching and learning that emulates the traditional teaching format, i.e.,
In-class: lecture; discussion, primarily moderated by the instructor; testing
Out-of-class: literature review (text, publications); drill and practice
Laboratory (when appropriate): simple applications of theory
Only fairly recently have distance learning researchers and practitioners begun seriously to suggest that the constraints imposed by this model are inappropriate, that distance education (or online learning, specifically) "creates a novel instructional environment with its own particular advantages, limitations, and challenges" . If we accept that we really are dealing with a novel environment, it makes sense to examine the theories of learning and instruction and apply these theories explicitly to develop a new, pedagogically driven instructional design approach for online learning.
Theories of Learning and Instruction
Here is a thumbnail history relating how modern learning and instructional theory have evolved .
In the 1950s, B. F. Skinner's programmed instruction, based on principles gleaned from the operant conditioning laboratory, led to a behaviorist model of learning. This model posits a stimulus-reaction-reinforcement (stimulus) cycle through which the learner achieves a successively more accurate approximation of what is intended to be learned. Although this model is well suited to situations involving observable learned behavior, it does not apply well when the aim is to engender skills and knowledge that are not easily observed (certainly the case for engineering). …