Criterion Referenced Instruction (Robert Mager)
The Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI) framework developed by Robert Mager is a comprehensive set of methods for the design and delivery of training programs. Some of the critical aspects include: (1) goal/task analysis -- to identify what needs to be learned, (2) performance objectives -- exact specification of the outcomes to be accomplished and how they are to be evaluated (the criterion), (3) criterion referenced testing -- evaluation of learning in terms of the knowledge/skills specified in the objectives, (4) development of learning modules tied to specific objectives.
Training programs developed in CRI format tend to be self-paced courses involving a variety of different media (e.g., workbooks, videotapes, small group discussions, computer-based instruction). Students learn at their own pace and take tests to determine if they have mastered a module. A course manager administers the program and helps students with problems.
CRI is based upon the ideas of mastery learning and performance-oriented instruction. It also incorporates many of the ideas found in Gagne's coditions of learning (e.g., task hierarchies, objectives) and is compatible with most theories of adult learning (e.g., andragogy, experiential learning) because of its emphasis on learner initiative and self-management.
Criterion referenced instruction is applicable to any form of learning; however, it has been applied most extensively in technical training including troubleshooting.
CRI has been applied to a workshop that Mager gives about CRI. The workshop consists of a series of modules (mostly print materials) with well-defined objectives, practice exercises, and mastery tests. Participants have some freedom to choose the order in which they complete the modules, provided they satisfy the prerequisites shown on the course map. For example, in one module on Objectives, the student must learn the three primary components of an objective, recognize correctly formed objectives (practice exercises), and be able to draft correct objectives for specified tasks. This module has one pre-requisite and is the pre-requisite to most other modules in the course.
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