Chapter 6. Human Performance Technology 93
Evolution of Human Performance Technology
Paradigm shift
in instructional
In the 19
century, Joseph Lancaster of England developed
a monitorial method for teaching a large number of students.
The Lancasterian type of instruction was practice-centered
(Saettler, 1968), sometimes illustrated with a “mind as a
muscle” metaphor (Baker, 1973 as cited in Shrock, 1995).
Since then, there have been several developmental phases of the
instructional technology field that prompted people to think
beyond this “muscle” metaphor. For example, as behaviorism
became a dominant paradigm in educational psychology, the
design of instruction was based on behavioral principles (or
laws) of learning. The “mind as an itinerary” analogy illustrates
the method used in programmed instruction, which is based
on the principles of learning and teaching derived from
behavioral psychology.
Beginning in the late 1960s, cognitivism started gaining in
popularity. Cognitive psychologists and researchers focused
on studying memory structure (a.k.a., schema). The “mind
as a filing cabinet” analogy describes the influence of cog-
nitive psychology on instructional development, as it focused
on constructing meaningfully organized schema that would
facilitate effective storage, retrieval, and use of memory
(i.e., learning, remembering, and using).
Paradigm shift
from behavior-
focused to
Human performance technology as a field of study evolved from the
instructional technology field when practitioners began to see that instruction
is not a cure-all. In many cases, other interventions have to be utilized,
and the focus has to be on performance improvement. This was outside-the-
box thinking.
technology as
a field of study
This chapter explains the differences between learning and instruction, an
ehavioral change and performance. It then introduces human performance
technology as a field of study and describes various performance improve-
ment interventions.
Steps to follow:
94 Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology
Learning, Behavioral Change, and Performance
Learning vs.
Instruction and learning are not the same thing. Instruction, which is define
as “a set of events that affect learners in such a way that learning is facili-
tated” (Gagné, Briggs, and Wager, 1992, p. 3), is intended to help people
learn. But instruction is not the only means to learning. Learning can occu
while reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, or watching somebod
else’s performance. In other words, people gain new knowledge not onl
from formal instruction, but also through noninstructional methods.
Learning vs.
per·for·mance \pə(r)-
for-mən(t)s\ n
1: a: the execution of an action
b: something accomplished: DEED, FEAT
2: the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request: IMPLEMENTATION
(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2003, p. 920)
Learning and performance are not the same thing. Acquisition of new knowl-
edge might not be enough or even necessary for a person to perform a new
task or to raise his or her current performance level. New knowledge can help
us exhibit a new behavior, and the new behavior is a means for im
That is, performance is about outcomes: “Behavior is individual activity,
whereas the outcomes of behavior are the ways in which the behaving indivi-
dual’s environment is somehow different as a result of his or her behavior”
(Nickols as cited in Stolovitch and Keeps, 1999, p. 4). For example, a person
might know what the jitterbug is (knowledge) and be able to do a couple o
steps after watching a video (behavioral change), but this does not always
mean that the person’s jitterbug performance will be applauded by an
audience (performance, as in an outcome of that behavior).
In other words, performance is measured in terms of the accomplishmen
produced by specific knowledge and behavior. Harless (1989) provides inter-
esting questions that help distinguish knowledge, behavior, and accomplishe
1. If you’ve stopped breathing, whom do you want to show up?
Paramedic #1: I know how a resuscitator works.
Paramedic #2: I know how to work a resuscitator.
Paramedic #3: I have accomplished resuscitation before.

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