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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Michael Davis

First Committee Member

Kenneth Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Esther Cohen


The Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) is designed to individualize instruction based on traditional learning theories. Students are required to demonstrate mastery before advancing to new material. A self-pacing feature allows students to dictate their rate of progress. Compared to lecture-discussion instruction, PSI courses have demonstrated superior examination performance as well as increased ratings of course quality. However, studies have been criticized for testing only basic skills while ignoring more complex processes. In this research project, the PSI study guides were designed to emphasize complex processes and mastery test and review examination questions reflected increased item-level complexity. Results showed that students were able to master these complex items at the required 90% criterion. Performance on the comprehensive review examinations was slightly lower for complex items. Expected differences relating to the three group sequence requirements were not obtained. Nevertheless, mastery performance on the complex items was achieved by all students regardless of experimental group.