The field of human performance technology, which emerged from its parent field of
instructional technology, is based on the realization that instruction is not a cost-effective
solution to all performance problems. Because of this historical relationship between the
two fields and the fact that they are built on similar operational principles (such as
systematic and systemic approaches to solving problems), one good way to learn about
the two related fields is to study their historical and theoretical foundations. That is how
my colleagues and I in the Department of Instructional and Performance Technology
(IPT) at Boise State University educate our students in the first semester of their master’s
degree and certificate programs.
I started teaching a Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology course at
Boise State University in the fall of 1996. As the title of the course implies, the main goal
of the course is to help new students successfully build foundational knowledge about the
fields of instructional technology and human performance technology. I was hoping to
find a textbook that would help students gain a good understanding about the historical
and theoretical foundations of the two related fields, but no available texts seemed to
serve the purpose. The only available option left to me was to provide students with a
collection of published articles and book chapters. However, students had difficulty
making connections among some of the articles written by different authors because
formats and tones of voice were so varied. I spent a considerable amount of time each
year helping students combine and synthesize the information from different sources.
After doing so for ten years, I realized that my lecture-notes files became thick enough to
be converted to a book! I finally decided to write a textbook so that our students would
have an overview of the development of foundational principles and practices of the
fields of instructional technology and human performance technology in one coherent
voice. In this book I also included statements from original sources so that students will
have an opportunity to learn about the ideas of original thinkers from their own words.
The intended audience for this book includes students who are studying instructional
technology, human performance technology, human resource development, and related
subjects, as well as practitioners in the field.
There are eleven chapters in this book, and the themes of the chapters progress from
the focus of instructional technology to the focus of human performance technology.
Chapter 1 provides definitions of instructional technology and several important terms.
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the development of the foundational principles
of human learning and teaching and of systematic instructional design processes by
introducing the works of important theorists such as E. L. Thorndike, Ralph Tyler, B. F.
Skinner, and Benjamin Bloom. Chapter 3 reviews several individuals’ contributions to
the development of instructional theories and systematic instructional design processes,
including the ideas of Robert Gagné, Robert Mager, Walter Dick and Lou Carey, and
John Keller. Chapter 4 introduces systematic and systemic approaches to evaluating the