Skill Builder: Invariant Tasks

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Topic:Instructional Design > Cognitive behaviors > Invariant Tasks > Skill Builder: Invariant Tasks

Source: Invariant Tasks by Charles M. Reigeluth. Used by Permission.


Skill Builder Instructions: This is your opportunity to practice the skills covered in this section of the lesson. As the Wikiversity is a collaborative learning space, you will contribute your original ideas to the work of those who have come before you by enhancing and adding to the possible responses within the case scenario laid out below. Are you saying to yourself, "...but, isn't looking at the answers from a fellow learner the same as cheating?" Not in this case. In fact, contributing your original ideas while participating with fellow learners and building upon their work is the intended goal of this Skill Builder exercise. The desired outcome is to build an ever evolving working document filled with not just one possible response to each question, but a host of instructional strategies that you can use on your next instructional design project. Have fun and get creative!


What to teach? How to teach it?[edit]

Imagine a friend of yours, Jennifer, has just been hired to tutor a sixth grader, Sam. She's all excited, because it's her first tutoring job. However, she's very worried, too, because she has never tutored before. She has come to you for advice. You had just read somewhere that the most important concerns in any instruction are "what to teach" and "how to teach it". Let's assume that Jennifer has already found out that Sam is supposed to learn the names of the first seven Presidents of the United States. So let's turn our attention to "how to teach it". Based on the need to create strong links within memory, what would you say is the most important instructional strategy you could suggest to your friend? Think about it, click "edit" for this section, and add your answer below:

  • Phonebein 18:33, 29 March 2007 (UTC) I think the instructional strategy I would use would be to create a funny rhyme using some or all of the parts of the president's names.

What are the recommended teacher actions?[edit]

What should Jennifer be doing while Sam is stating the names of the first seven Presidents of the United States? Should she just sit there or should she do something? What do you think she should do? Think about it, click "edit" for this section, and add your answer below:


What about when the learner get stuck?[edit]

Picture Jennifer asking Sam to name the Presidents. If he only knows who the first one is (George Washington), would you start by asking him to name all of them? That would be silly. So what other guideline should you give Jennifer? If this all seems obvious, it shows you have already picked up an intuitive understanding of some of the most basic principles of instruction from your observations or studies. Congratulations! But beware that we are quickly moving on to less obvious principles. Think about it, click "edit" for this section, and add your answer below:


What about larger amounts of content?[edit]

Let's assume that Sam needs to learn the names of all the Presidents of the United States instead of just seven. Forty Presidents is a lot to learn. Would you present all 40 at once and then elicit practice on all 40 at once? Think of what you would recommend to make it easier for him to learn all those names, click "edit" for this section, and jot your answer below:


How to prompt the learner?[edit]

Let's assume the names are difficult for Sam. What else can you recommend to help him remember the names in the first chunk? Keep in mind the need to strengthen those links, click "edit" for this section, and jot your answer below:


What is more powerful and efficient than repetition to facilitate memorization?[edit]

However, aside from motivational strategies such as games to increase the learner's effort to memorize the information, there is another feature which can be even more powerful and efficient than repetition to facilitate memorization. Try to think of what it is, click "edit", and write your answer below:


What about motivation?[edit]

It is hard to remember all those names, and Sam is bound to have trouble at first. What can Jennifer do to keep him from getting discouraged—to keep his attitude positive and his concentration high? High motivation translates into high effort, and that means quicker and better learning. What would you recommend to Jennifer? Think about it, click "edit", and add your answer below:

Exercise Synthesis[edit]

To see possible responses to this Skill Builder Exercise (prepared by the original authors of this lesson), click here: Skill Builder: Invariant Tasks Synthesis. Note that these responses are purposely placed on a separate screen to provide general guidance should you become stuck, but NOT to imply a single correct response to the case scenario.