Each generation of college teachers is presented with a new elixir promising to cure all of our troubles, increase our energy and productivity, and make student learning painless and more comprehensive.
In 1946, we really expected student-centered, groupcentered teaching to revolutionize higher education.
In the early 1950s, television enthusiasts were sure television would replace college teachers; the technological revolution would take care of all our problems. (I taught the first psychology course on television in 1950-51, so I joined the technological breakthrough.)
Somewhat later in the 1950s, Skinner described a "teaching machine" that would improve educational effectiveness manyfold (Skinner, 1958). Xerox, GE, and other big electronic and publishing companies jumped into the teaching machine business and into programmed learning. The teaching machine was going to be education's savior as well as a money maker for private enterprise.
In the late 1950s, independent study was going to save us from the great shortage of teachers expected in the 1960s.
McKeachie is Associate Director, National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching & Learning, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.