Early Teaching Machine of B. F. Skinner

Description:

In the years following World War II, American school enrollments boomed. One parent, the psychologist and Harvard University faculty member B. F. Skinner, noted that students might benefit from machines that gave extra opportunities for drill. Skinner designed this instrument to teach elementary arithmetic.

The wooden box has a black plastic knob in front. The hinged lid extends over the middle of the top, and covers a punched paper tape. A window in this lid reveals one problem at a time. In front of the window is a set of six levers that allows one to set a number in a hole, to answer a question.

A mark on the lid of the machine reads: TEACHING MACHINE EXHIBITED IN MARCH, 1954 (/) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH [/] CONFERENCE ON “PSYCHOLOGY AND THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES”.

Compare to other Skinner teaching machines, 1984.1069.01 and MA.335539.

Reference:

Alexander Rutherford, Beyond the Box: B. F. Skinner’s Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s–1970s, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009, esp. pp. 26-33.

Date Made: 1954

Maker: Skinner, B. F.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Cambridge

Subject: MathematicsPsychology

Subject:

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Teaching Machines, Science & Mathematics, Arithmetic Teaching

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of B. F. Skinner

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1981.0997.01Accession Number: 1981.0997Catalog Number: 1981.0997.01

Object Name: teaching machine

Physical Description: wood (box material)paper (tape material)plastic (knob material)metal (mechanism material)Measurements: overall: 15.3 cm x 33 cm x 33.5 cm; 6 1/32 in x 13 in x 13 3/16 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-1b03-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_690070

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