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Skinner Teaching Machine

Skinner Teaching Machine

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From the 1920s, psychologists have explored ways to automate teaching. In the 1950s, the psychologist B. F. Skinner of Harvard University suggested that techniques he had developed for training rats and pigeons might be adopted for teaching humans. He used this apparatus teaching a Harvard course in natural sciences.
The machine is a rectangular wooden box with a hinged metal lid with windows. Various paper discs fit inside, with questions and answers written along radii of the discs. One question at a time appears in the window nearer the center. The student writes an answer on a paper tape to the right and advances the mechanism. This reveals the correct answer but covers his answer so that it may not be changed.
Skinner's "programmed learning" was refined and adopted in many classrooms in the 1960s. It underlies techniques still used in instruction for the office, the home and the school.
Currently not on view
Object Name
teaching machine
Date made
Skinner, B. F.
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, Cambridge
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 17.5 cm x 48.6 cm x 37 cm; 6 7/8 in x 19 1/8 in x 14 9/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of B. F. Skinner
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Teaching Machines
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Foi muito significativo essa representação da evolução educacional. Métodos para que o aprendizado se torne mais prazeroso, dinâmico e autônomo. Skinner fez uma máquina que revolucionou na época, o mais importante é que temos que tentar sempre a melhor forma de fazer com o aluno seja sujeito no processo de ensino e aprendizado.
Thank you for having this bit of educational history available for online viewing, with an explanation of how it works. My text book for a college class referenced "the teaching machine" Skinner made, but I couldn't envision it. I *needed* to see what it looked like and how it worked. THANK YOU!

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