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The Keller Plan


The Keller Plan (also called The Personalized System of Instruction) is an instructional method introduced by Fred Keller, J. Gilmour Sherman, and several other researchers in the 1960s.1) This individualized learning method was oriented on improvement of high school learning.

What is the Keller plan?

Keller's idea was to make higher education teaching more adjusted to individual needs. His method was first introduced in 1962 in order to help establishing a Department of Psychology at the University of Brasilia and design a course for the students. After additional modifications, the key aspects of his method can be described as follows:2)

  • Go-at-your-own-pace. A student can move through the course content at his own pace, independently of other students.
  • Detailed definitions of learning objectives.
  • Unit-perfection requirement. In order to advance to the next unit, a student needs to demonstrate mastery of the preceding unit.
  • Emphasis on written materials. The emphasis is on learning from written materials. Lectures and demonstrations will be provided only when you have demonstrated your readiness to appreciate them; no examination will be based upon them: and you need not attend them if you do not wish.3)
  • The use of proctors. Proctors enhance the social aspect of educational process, enable repeated testing with immediate scoring and tutoring.

Still, as this a behaviorist learning model and Keller is a reinforcement theorist himself, he also notes that the teacher himself decides on the content that is being taught and reinforcement means he employs. Modularization separating the content into a number of slammer units can also be considered to be a form of shaping, or forming desired behavior bit by bit.

What is the practical meaning of the Keller plan?

The practical meaning of Keller's model consists of implementing the above identified measures in practice. An example of this is a hand-out describing Keller's teaching methods applied to the first-semester course in General Psychology in 1967.


Criticisms of Keller's method include4)5):

  • limited instructional methods,
  • extra efforts by teacher and tutors,
  • high dropout rates, and
  • decreased human interaction.

Keywords and most important names

  • The Keller Plan, Individualized System of Instruction, self-paced instruction
  • Fred Keller, Gilmour Sherman


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learning_theories/the_keller_plan.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/19 18:03 (external edit)