Below are PDFs of some of the Mechner Foundation's documents and publications in educational innovation, basic research, and other areas.
This article describes the role of the Columbia University Psychology Department of the early 1950s as the seedbed of contributions to educational technology and school reform. It recounts the achievements of some Mechner enterprises going back to the 1960s and 1970s and their involvements with the White House, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, Xerox Corporation, UNESCO, and Europe’s Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; and describes the current work of the Mechner Foundation in the field of education reform. This article is also available as a chapter in a book published by the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies:
Mechner, F. (2015). Some historic roots of education reform. In R. Holdsambeck & H. Pennypacker (Eds.), Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery and Service (pp. 229-252). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
This is the PowerPoint presentation of an address Dr. Mechner gave in Milan at the 11th International Congress of Behavioral Science. It describes the Paideia Individualized Education technology, its demonstration at Queens Paideia School, and its implications for school reform.
In 1968 at the Armonk Paideia School, Mechner introduced a novel approach to K-12 education that applies what is known about the learning process, organizational theory, and psychology. Termed “Paideia Individualized Education” (PIE), it has been further refined at Queens Paideia School. Analysis suggests that when a number of PIE schools are aggregated to form a larger school in which the small schools operate as self-contained units, the benefits of the PIE system are preserved at a per-pupil cost below that of most present-day public schools.
LearningCloud is a searchable relational database of learning objectives that specify outcomes to be achieved for all the areas that a complete education encompasses.LearningCloud provides teachers with access to these so that they may individualize the education they provide to a diverse student body. The Mechner Foundation has been developing and using LearningCloud in its own school, Queens Paideia School. The long-term goal is for LearningCloud to serve as an open-source facility for all learners—even in college and beyond—that makes the vast stores of human knowledge accessible.
By conceptualizing thinking as a form of behavior, the methods of learning theory become applicable to the teaching of thinking skills. Most thinking skills can then be defined and specified as heuristics that are useful in diverse situations, including social and other situations that a student encounters throughout the day. With practice, such turn into habitual thinking patterns. Defining thinking skills as heuristics that are learned in overt form and then made covert and automatized by dint of extensive repetition provides a practical approach to teaching a wide range of thinking skills, including creativity.
Also available at: F. Mechner, Fredrick, T., & Jenkins, T. (2013.) How can one specify and teach thinking skills. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 14, 285-293.
This book develops a theory and technology of skilled performance based on research in psychology and physiology. Examples are drawn from various performance disciplines, with special emphasis on piano performance.
Programmed instruction was defined in the early 1960s as using active response by the learner, immediate confirmation of correct responses, and successive approximations toward the knowledge to be learned. This paper proposes some newer and presumably more effective techniques of programmed instruction and the theoretical justification of those techniques.
This article makes the point that the perennial failures of school reform suggest that the problem needs to be redefined, and that focusing only on curriculum and teaching techniques, as had been done up to the time of writing, will continue to be insufficient. It suggests that a reconfiguration of schools and teacher roles may be required.
Also available at: Mechner, F. (1977). The “problem” of the schools. Educational Technology, 17(1), 45-47.
This paper is part of a presentation Dr. Mechner used to persuade Xerox Corporation to provide $600,000 of the initial funding for his early childhood education project, which they did, from 1966 to 1968. In the following year, he used the paper to help persuade various large financial institutions to invest $11 million in his company UEC, Inc.
The paper is an abbreviated version of an address Dr. Mechner delivered at a conference of the American Management Association in 1966. In it, he describes ten industries to which he thought behavior technology would give rise. The Institute of Behavior Technology is the predecessor of the Mechner Foundation.
Dr. Mechner wrote this document in late 1961 for the training of Basic Systems programmers, and continued to modify it in1962. The document was also included in the readings Dr. Mechner assigned in the 1963 summer course on Programmed Instruction that he taught at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, and some passages from it were later included in Mechner (1967).
Twenty years later he developed a programmed learning course on behavioral analysis for U.S. Army developers of training materials, under a TRADOC contract. A copy of this course is available in Mechner Foundation archives.
Starting in 1960, Dr. Mechner began to produce materials to be used to train developers of instructional programs. He wrote the first of these—Programming for Automated Instruction and “Supplements I, II, and III” to that document in 1960, and “Introduction to Programming” in 1961.