Instructional Development Timeline
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Wilheim Wundt (1832-1920)


            Wilheim Wundt is credited to be the “Father of Psychology.”  He established the first laboratory in the world dedicated to experimental psychology. According to DiVesta (The Cognitive Movement and Education, 1987), “Wundt saw cognition as an active, creative process aimed at providing structure to experiences.” Wundt believed that the mind is active and creative – what is stored in memory are the creations of the learner. The process in which the mind functions to produce learning is not merely an accumulation of facts and instances. Rather, learning occurs when understanding is achieved. In Wundt’s findings, contrast is important for increasing the precision of understanding. Creativity is produced from the idea of contrast.  Ironically, his findings were not considered his greatest accomplishment. In fact, it was because of his work that psychology became a valid experimental science.




Frederic Bartlett (1886-1969)


Frederic Bartlett said, "Remembering is not a completely independent function, entirely distinct from perceiving, imaging, or even from constructive thinking, but it has intimate relations with them all." (p.13, Remembering; A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology). Bartlett was revolutionary in his day changing the perspective of memory for psychologists everywhere. According to him, remembering is an act of reconstruction, not an act of reproduction as theorists of the past and in his day had believed. Barlett is famous for his experiments on memory. In his Method of Serial Reproductions, Bartlett experimented with the verbal duplication of stories and legends from his subjects. In one experiment, he used the story “The War of The Ghost,” a Native American legend. A subject was told the story, then asked to re-tell the story to another person. That person would then repeat his version to a third and so on to several individuals. What is interesting was that certain details of the story were dropped, and other specifics were carried throughout all the versions. The findings of this and subsequent experiments were that:

·      Interpreting plays a large role in what we remember

·      What is remembered has to have some connection with what is already familiar

·      Memory is a constructive process

Bartlett used the term “schema” in defining what we remember is built upon what we have experienced in our past. Gardner describes “Bartlett claimed that the typical memory system used by humans involves the formation of abstract cognitive structures, or schemas” (p. 11, Frederic Bartlett’s Schematic Approach).




Max Wertheimer (1880-1943)


            Max Wertheimer's discovery of the phi phenomenon (concerning the illusion of motion) gave

rise to the influential school of Gestalt psychology. Working with Köhler and Kurt Koffka, Wertheimer made significant strides in to the study of psychological problems.

            Wertheimer wrote, “a man is not only a part of his field, he is also one among other men,”(Gestalt Theory, Max Wertheimer , 1924).  Unlike the behaviorists of his time, Wertheimer was placed emphasis on the whole, rather than the sum of its parts. He believed that behavior is not determined individual elements. Rather, behavior is determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole. Therefore, the focus of Gestalt Theory is the idea of “grouping.”

            Grouping” can be explained through the Gestalt Laws:

·      Law of Proximity – objects close together appear grouped together

·      Law of Symmetry – the more alike objects are, they tend to be grouped

·      Law of Good Continuation – objects that form a continuous line tend to be grouped together



 Über Gestalttheorie [an address before the Kant Society, Berlin, '7th December, 1924], Erlangen, 1925. In the translation by Willis D. Ellis published in his "Source Book of Gestalt Psychology," New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co, 1938. Reprinted by the Gestalt Journal Press, New York 1997.

DiVesta. The Cognitive Movement and Education, 1987.

Bartlett, Frederic. Remembering; A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology.

Wertheimer, Max. Gestalt Theory, Max Wertheimer , 1924.

Gardner, Howard. Frederic Bartlett’s Schematic Approach, 1985.

Gardner, Howard. The Mind’s New Science.

Hunter, Ian M.L., Memory, 1964.