Importance of Instructional Materials in Education

Thirty years ago, educators paid little attention to the work of cognitive scientists, and researchers in the nascent field of cognitive science worked far removed from classrooms. Today, cognitive researchers are spending more time working with teachers, testing and refining their theories in real classrooms where they can see how different settings and classroom interactions influence applications of their theories.

What is perhaps currently most striking is the variety of research approaches and techniques that have been developed and ways in which evidence from many different branches of science are beginning to converge. The story we can now tell about learning is far richer than ever before, and it promises to evolve dramatically in the next generation. For example, research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organization that underlie people’s abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of areas, including mathematics, science, social studies and history. Developmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative, and personal intent, and that these capabilities make it possible to create innovative curricula that introduce important concepts for advanced reasoning at early ages.

Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings.

Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and anthropology is making clear that all learning takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways.

Collaborative studies of the design and evaluation of learning environments, among cognitive and developmental psychologists and educators, are yielding new knowledge about the nature of learning and teaching as it takes place in a variety of settings. In addition, researchers are discovering ways to learn from the “wisdom of practice” that comes from successful teachers who can share their expertise.

Further, emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago.
All of these developments in the study of learning have led to an era of new relevance of science to practice. In short, investment in basic research is paying off in practical applications. These developments in understanding of how humans learn have particular significance in light of changes in what is expected of the nation’s educational systems.

On the other hand, in the early part of the twentieth century, education focused on the acquisition of literacy skills: simple reading, writing, and calculating. It was not the general rule for educational systems to train people to think and read critically, to express themselves clearly and persuasively, to solve complex problems in science and mathematics. Now, at the end of the century, these aspects of high literacy are required of almost everyone in order to successfully negotiate the complexities of contemporary life. The skill demands for work have increased dramatically, as has the need for organizations and workers to change in response to competitive workplace pressures. Thoughtful participation in the democratic process has also become increasingly complicated as the locus of attention has shifted from local to national and global concerns. Above all, information and knowledge are growing at a far more rapid rate than ever before in the history of humankind.

As Nobel laureate Herbert Simon (2001) wisely stated, the meaning of “knowing” has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it. More than ever, the sheer magnitude of human knowledge renders its coverage by education an impossibility; rather, the goal of education is better conceived as helping pupils develop the intellectual tools and learning strategies needed to acquire the knowledge that allows people to think productively about history, science and technology, social phenomena, mathematics, and the arts. Fundamental understanding about subjects, including how to frame and ask meaningful questions about various subject areas, contributes to individuals’ more basic understanding of principles of learning that can assist them in becoming self-sustaining, lifelong learners.

In the light of these significant findings on teaching and learning, various groups, both governmental and non-governmental, aimed to promote changes in the national curriculum and to motivate, encourage and effectively utilize teachers to develop, design, and exchange teaching-learning materials.

These groups prepare multimedia teaching-learning packages and relevant curricula based on the learner’s needs and interests. The package consists of materials on literacy and numeracy, civic and social responsibility science, environment, health and nutrition, hygiene and sanitation and other related studies.

In relation to this, audiovisual education emerged as a discipline in the 1920s. This happened when a visual instruction movement arose, which encouraged the use of visual materials to make abstract ideas more concrete to pupils. As sound technology improved, the movement became known as audiovisual instruction.

Educators at that time viewed audiovisuals only as aids to teachers. Not until World War II, when the armed services used audiovisual materials to train large numbers of persons in short periods of time, did the potential of these devices as primary sources of instruction become apparent.

In the 1950s and ’60s, developments in communications theory and systems concepts led to studies of the educational process, its elements, and their interrelationships. Among these elements are the teacher, the teaching methods, the information conveyed, the materials used, the student, and the student’s responses. As a result of these studies, the field of audiovisuals shifted its emphasis from devices and materials to the examination of the teaching-learning process. The field is now known as audiovisual communications and educational technology, and audiovisual materials were viewed as an integral part of the educational system.

Hence, if the instructional materials are well organized, well constructed and presented properly, a successful teaching–learning can be achieved.

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