Inferred Functions of Performance and Learning
Psychology Press – 2003 – 536 pages
This ambitious, highly theoretical book provides a capstone for the careers of two very distinguished scholars. It begins with an analysis of what functions and systems must exist for any organism or machine to perform an unlearned act, that is, with an analysis of what must be "wired into" the organism or machine. Once the basics of unlearned responding have been established, the authors then systematically show how learning mechanisms can be layered onto that foundation in ways that account for the performance of new, learned operations that eventually culminate in the acquisition of higher-order operations that involve concepts and language.
This work is of interest to various practitioners engaged in analyzing and creating behavior: the ethnologist, the instructional designer, the learning psychologist, the physiologist-neurobiologist, and particularly the designer of intelligent machines.
"This book provides the first new and conceptually coherent assessment of what constitutes learned behavior and how organisms acquire it. I believe that it will be a book that will revolutionize how people think about learning. I suspect that this title will ultimately have the kind of staying power that few books ever attain, perhaps something like Hebb's Organization and Behavior. When I was reading the manuscript, a colleague asked what I was reading. I said, 'I think I'm reading the most important book that I've ever read.' I meant it."
University of Virginia
"This book takes a new approach toward understanding an issue that is at the very core of psychology. It attempts to describe the internal functions that account for the observable patterns of performance and learning. This is not a new topic. Its history is as long as psychology itself. However, Engelmann and Steely take a fresh approach and their contribution is original. The completion of this project and its accessible presentation will be a substantial and lasting contribution to the field."
Utah State University
Contents: Preface. Part I: Performance of Nonlearning Systems. A Framework for the Fundamentals of Performance. Basics of Hardwired Systems. Agent Functions. Interaction of Agent and Infrasystem. Part II: Basic Learning. Perspectives on Basic Learning. Basic Antecedent Learning. Basic Response-Strategy Learning. Learning Patterns and Generalizations. Transformation of Data. Part III: Extended Learning. Individuals and Features. Secondary and Unfamiliar Learning. Experimental Designs. Volition and Thought. Part IV: Human Learning and Instruction. Human Learning. Language. Human Cognitive Development. The Logic of Instruction. Issues.