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  • (1832) Wilhelm Wundt referred to as the "Father of Experimental Psychology" and the "Founder of Modern Psychology" established the first laboratory in the world dedicated to experimental psychology
  • (1845) Boston Survey undertaken by Boston School Commitee-wide-scale assessment of student achievement
  • (1890) William James' Principles of Psychology inspired a growing number of graduate-students including Thorndike
  • (1895-1905)Joseph Rice organized assessment program in a number of large school systems used for educational decisions including standardized curriculum
  • (1896) John Dewey while at the University of Chicago, Dewey established a Laboratory School for the purpose of testing his educational theories and their sociological implications
  • (1899) John Dewey publishes The School and Society
  • (1906) Ivan Pavlov publishes his findings on Classical Conditioning
  • (1913) John B. Watson launches the Behaviorist Revolution
  • (1918) William Heard Kilpatrick develops the Project Method
  • E.L. Thorndike-main contributor for shifting the "mind as muscle" idea to designing instruction based on prespecified and socEially useful goals He was also a strong advocate for educational measurement
  • Horace Mann was the most eminent leader of his time advocating public education, teacher training, free libraries


  • Franklin Bobbit (1918) - advocated utilitarian or social efficiency movement. Emphasized creating relevant outcome and then planning instruction to meet them (Educational Objectives)
  • (1920) John Watson and Rosalie Rayner publish Conditioned Emotioanl Reactions
  • (1922) Edward C. Tolman publishes A New Formula for Behaviorism
  • (1925)Sidney Pressey invents testing and teaching machine
  • Mary Ward and Frederick Burk - established San Francisco Normal School using self-instructional materials
  • Carleton Washburne (Winnetka Plan) and Helen Parkhurst (Dalton Plan) - pre-specified learning outcomes, self-pacing, mastery learning (Individualized Instruction)
  • Individual Learning Plans provided a rationale for continued development of design rather than traditional instruction
  • Mary Ward and Frederick Burk - established San Francisco Normal School


  • (1933) Ralph W. Tyler - Eight Year Study- use of general and behavioral objectives and formative evaluation
  • (1933) Televised courses from the State University of Iowa
  • (1934) William Bagley writes Education and Emergent Man
  • (1939) Regular scheduled television broadcasting begins in the U.S.
  • The Great Depression
  • Progressive Movement


  • World War II led to increase of funding for education research and development
  • (1942) Smith and Tyler provide evaluation manual which dominates educational evaluation for next quarter century
  • (1946)Edgar Dale's developed the Cone of Experience
  • (1949) Ralph Tyler publishes Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction
  • emergence of the role of instructional technologist and instructional design team


  • (1950) Alan Turing publishes Computing Machinery and Intelligence
  • (1954) B.F. Skinner publishes The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching
  • (1954) B.F. Skinner demonstrates at the University of Pittsburgh a machine designed to teach arithmetic, using an instructional program
  • (1954) John Flanagan- critical incident technique
  • (1954) Maslow introduces Heirarchy of Needs
  • Task Analysis
  • (1956) Benjamin Bloom - Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
  • (1957) The Soviet launch of Sputnik initiated federal funds to
    education in math and science
  • (1959) Roby Kidd publishes How Adults Learn
  • (1959) Wolfgang Kohler publishes Gestalt Psychology Today
  • Visual literacy gains attention of educators when TV seems to influence behavior


  • (1961) Jerome Bruner publishes The Process of Education
  • (1962) Robert Miller- developed detailed task analysis procedures
  • (1962) Robert Mager publishes his book, “Preparing Instructional Objectives” in 1962. This book helped popularize the use of performance objectives by educators and others.
  • (1962) Robert Gagne published The Conditions of Learning
  • (1962) Robert Glaser employed the term instructional system and named, elaborated, and diagrammed its components including criterion-referenced measures - tests interpreted in terms of competencies mastered
  • Federal support increased for Instructional Development
  • (1965) Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • James Finn, Arthur Lumsdaine, et. al. - move Audio Visual field toward a design of instructional messages
  • (1963) the Keller Plan used for University college classes
  • (1966) Jerome Bruner's model of Discovery Learning, publishes Toward a Theory of Instruction
  • (1969) First broadcast of Sesame Street
  • (1969) McMaster University introduces problem-based learning in medical education


  • Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI) is introduced. Developed by Robert Mager it is a comprehensive set of methods for the design and delivery of training programs.
  • Graduate Education programs focusing on instructional systems design grew
  • Proliferation of ID models - addition of needs assessment
  • Existing associations of professionals were redefined (i.e. AECT)
  • Journal of Instructional Development founded
  • (1976) Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak design the Apple I


  • (1980) Seymour Papert publishes Mindstorms
  • (1983) MD Merrill established The Component Display Theory. Component Display Theory specifies four primary presentation forms: rules, examples, recall and practice as well as prerequisites, objectives, helps, mnemonics, and feedback.
  • (1983) Howard Gardner publishes Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  • (1984) Apple Macintosh computer introduced
  • (1984) David Kolb publishes Experiential Learning: Experiences as the Source of Learning and Development
  • (1985) National Technological University Established
  • (1987) Hypercard develped by Bill Atkinson
  • growth of users of microcomputers/personal computers
  • computer-based instruction
  • adoption of instructional systems development by American businesses
  • expansion of systems concept - performance technology
  • Larry Cuban writes How Teachers Taught: Constancy and Change in American Classrooms 1880-1980


  • Charles Reigeluth breaks ground with his paper on Evaluation Theory. According to Reigeluth, Elaboration Theory, instruction should be organized in increasing order of complexity for optimal learning.
  • Dorsey, Goodrum, and Schwen develop another system of instructional design with the introduction of Rapid Prototyping. Rapid prototyping involve learners and/or subject matter experts (SMEs) interacting with prototypes and instructional designers in a continuous review/revision cycle.
  • Constructivist Theory spreads
  • dramatic increase use of multimedia in instruction in the classroom
  • development of CD-Roms
  • internet use in the classroom
  • increased use of e-learning


  • Jeroen J G van Merrienboer refines the Four-Component Instructional Design System (4C/ID-model) he developed early in 1992. The 4C/ID-model focuses on the integration and coordinated performance of task-specific constituent skills rather than on knowledge types, context or presentation-delivery media. The 4C/ID model is commonly associated with design and training programs focused on a very complex set of skills.
  • David Wiley, develops Learning Object Design and Sequencing Theory (LODAS). LODAS is the result of combining Elaboration Theory (Reigeluth, 1999), Work Model Synthesis (Gibbons, et al., 1995), Domain Theory (Bunderson, Newby, & Wiley, 2000), and the Four-Component Instructional Design model (van Merriënboer, 1997) with new work. LODAS also provides a taxonomy of five learning object types and provides design guidance for the different types of learning objects.e-learning.

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Last Updated - April 2004