Francis Mechner

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Francis Mechner is an American research psychologist best known for having developed and introduced (in 1959) a formal symbolic language[1][2][3] for the codification and notation of behavioral contingencies. He has published articles about the language's applications in economics, finance, education, environment, business management, biology, clinical practice, and law.[4][5][6][7] Mechner is also known for a variety of contributions to instructional technology and basic research in the field of learning.[8][9][10]

Relationship with Columbia University[edit]

Mechner received his PhD in 1957 from the Columbia University Department of Psychology under Professors F. S. Keller and William N. Schoenfeld.[11][12][13] As Lecturer on the Department’s teaching faculty from 1955 to 1960, he developed and taught a novel type of laboratory course in experimental psychology in which the students learned to design and conduct experiments on learning, perception, and concept formation, and to analyze and interpret data. He taught two sections of that course—one for Columbia's Teachers College graduate students and one for Columbia graduate and undergraduate students.

Research and applied work[edit]

Throughout his career, Mechner continued to conduct basic and applied research in the fields of learning and educational technology.[14][15][16][17][18][19] In 1957, as Director of the Schering Corporation psychopharmacology laboratory, he built the first computerized behavior research laboratory in which he conducted research on behavioral effect of drugs, and basic behavior research using rats, pigeons, monkeys, and humans.[20][21][22] In 1960 he introduced a new instructional technology[23][24] in conjunction with his founding of Basic Systems, Inc. with business partner David Padwa, a company they sold to Xerox Corporation in 1965.[25][26][27][28] Key aspects of this technology are the specification of learning objectives at the outset of the development process, analysis of the subject matter in terms of its component skills and concepts, the systematic sequencing of these, active response by the learner, and cycles of testing and revision of the material on the intended target population.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37]

Mechner applied this technology to elementary school and high school courses in science and mathematics, nursing and medical education,[38] for the training of industry personnel,[39] and in 1962 for interpersonal skill training via the audio-lingual programs in “Effective Listening” and “Professional Selling Skills.” The latter, when marketed by Xerox Learning Systems (the renamed Basic Systems, Inc.) and later by Learning International, Inc., was claimed to be the most widely used training system of all time.[40] Another Basic Systems-Xerox program that applies this technology and is still being sold today is “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.”[41]

In 1963, under a contract with the office of Governor Peabody of Massachusetts, Dr. Mechner developed the design for a residential training center for disadvantaged youths, and in 1965 the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity awarded his company Basic Systems, Inc. a contract for establishing and operating such a Job Corps Training Center in Huntington, West Virginia[42] The Job Corps Training Centers that were subsequently established throughout the United States under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 were based in part on that design.[43]

From 1960 through 1978 Mechner applied his technology to the creation of large-scale training systems and manpower development programs for governmental agencies in the United States and Brazil.[44][45][46] In 1970 he worked with the Carnegie Corporation’s Children’s Television Workshop project in the original design of certain aspects of the Sesame Street television.[47]:245 As a consultant to UNESCO from 1963 to 1965 he introduced his technology for the modernization of secondary school physics teaching in South America and chemistry teaching in Asia.[48]:242 In 1967 he founded Media Medica, Inc. through which he introduced the use of instructional materials for patient education. Through his company Universal Education Corporation, which he founded in 1968, he developed and installed innovative statewide early childhood development and educational daycare programs for Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nebraska, and Alabama.[49]:245 In 1969 he joined the White House’s National Goals Research Staff.[50]:246 In 1971, he testified before the Senate Finance Committee[51]:246 on the importance of early childhood development and educational day care regarding the Mondale-Brademas Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, which was passed by the Congress and then vetoed by President Nixon.[52][53]

In 1968 he founded the Paideia School, an innovative K–12 independent school that he operated until 1973 in Armonk, NY.[54] This school, based on ideas of John Dewey[55][56] Jerome Bruner,[57][58] and Fred S. Keller,[59] provided the original model for the Paideia Personalized Education approach on which the Mechner Foundation's Queens Paideia School in Long Island City, NY, is based.[60][61] From 1975 to 1977, he developed a computerized information storage and retrieval system and search engine for the Brazilian Government agency Instituto de Pesquisas Technologicas.[62]

The Mechner Foundation[edit]

In 1960, Mechner formed the New York State non-profit company Institute for Behavior Research, the antecedent of the Mechner Foundation that Mechner founded in 1997. Mechner has published numerous technical papers and articles and has lectured and taught courses at dozens of national and international conferences and universities.[63][64] As President of the Mechner Foundation, he sponsored collaborative research projects in the field of behavioral science with several major universities. [37] He provided the initial funding for the Blacksmith Institute and founded and operates the Queens Paideia School. The Mechner Foundation has also carried out an extensive basic research program of its own over a 12-year period.[65] Mechner has been a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies since 1985.

Business Enterprises[edit]

Since 1960, Mechner has funded his scientific research work through businesses that he founded and built.[66] All of these were based on some type of innovative technology. Among these, in addition to those described above, were Chyron Corporation which he founded with engineer Eugene Leonard (1966), best known for its digital graphics generators widely used in the broadcast industry;[67] TeleSession Corporation (1970); EDUTEC, S.A. in Brazil (1973); General Clutch Corp. with physicist Dr. Martin Waine (1980); TorqMaster, Inc. also with Dr. Martin Waine (1996); and Pragma Financial Systems, LLC (2002), with his son David Mechner.

Life[edit]

Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1931, Mechner came to the United States in 1944 after having spent three years in France and over two years in Cuba. By age 19 he was an accomplished classical concert pianist, portrait painter, and USCF-rated chess master.[68][69][70] In the late 1980s he composed the soundtracks for the original versions of Karateka and Prince of Persia (video games) both developed by his oldest son Jordan Mechner. Mechner has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies since 1985.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mechner, F. (1959). A notation system for the description of behavioral procedures. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2, 133-150.
  2. ^ Mechner, F. (1961). Programming for Automated Instruction. New York: Basic Systems.
  3. ^ Weingarten, K. & Mechner, F. (1966). A notation system for the analysis of social interaction. In T. Verhave (Ed.), Readings in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (pp. 447-459). New York: Appleton Century Crofts.
  4. ^ Mechner, F. (2008). Behavioral contingency analysis. Behavioural Processes, 78, 124-144.
  5. ^ Mechner, F. (2009). Analyzing variable behavioral contingencies: Are certain complex skills homologous with locomotion? Behavioural Processes, 81, 316-321.
  6. ^ Mechner, F. (2010). Anatomy of deception: a behavioral contingency analysis. Behavioural Processes, 84, 516-520.
  7. ^ Mechner, F. (2011). Why behavior analysis needs a formal symbolic language for codifying behavioral contingencies. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 12, 93-104.
  8. ^ Margulies, S. (1964). Some general rules of frame construction. In S. Margulies & L. D. Eigen (Eds.), Applied Programed Instruction. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  9. ^ Mehta, J., Schwartz, R. B., & Hess, F. M. (2012). The Futures of School Reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press
  10. ^ Summit, L. (1966b). Excerpts from Spectrum Editorial: Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  11. ^ Mechner, F. (1958). Probability relations within response sequences under ratio reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 1: 109-21.
  12. ^ Mechner, F. (1958). Sequential dependencies of the lengths of consecutive response runs. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 1: 229-33.
  13. ^ Keller, F. S., & Schoenfeld, W. N. (1950). Principles of Psychology: A Systematic Text in the Science of Behavior. New York: Appleton-Century- Crofts.
  14. ^ Mechner, F. & Ray, R. (1959). Avoidance of time out from fixed-interval reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 2: 261.
  15. ^ Mechner, F. (1962). Effects of deprivation upon counting and timing in rats. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 5: 463-66.
  16. ^ Mechner, F. (1994). The revealed operant: A way to study the characteristics of individual occurrences of operant responses. In S.S. Glenn (Ed.), Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies Monograph Series: Progress in Behavioral Studes, Monograph #3. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  17. ^ Mechner, F., Guevrekian, L., & Mechner, V. (1963). A fixed interval schedule in which the interval is initiated by a response. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 6: 323-30.
  18. ^ Mechner, F. (1966). Behavioral technology and social change. In Proceedings of the American Management Association. New York: American Management Association.
  19. ^ Mechner, F., Hyten, C., Field, D. P., Madden, G. (1997). Using revealed operants to study the structure and properties of human operant behavior, Psychological Record, 47: 45-68.
  20. ^ Mechner, F., Snapper, A. G., & Ray, R. (1961). Behavioral effects of methamphetamine and methylphenidate in rat and man. In E. Rothlin (Ed.), Neuro-Psychopharmacology Vol. 2 (pp. 167-71). Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Company.
  21. ^ Mechner, F. (1963). Science education and behavioral technology. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Teaching Machines and Programmed Learning II (pp. 441-508). 1965. Washington, DC: National Education Association.
  22. ^ Mechner, F. & Latranyi, M. (1963). Behavioral effects of caffeine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate in the rat. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 6: 331-42.
  23. ^ Mechner, F. (1961). Behavioral contingencies. In J. G. Holland, Solomon, C., Doran, J., & Frezza, D. A. (Eds.). The Analysis of Behavior in Planning Instruction (pp. 50-62). New York: Addison-Wesley, 1976.
  24. ^ Cook, D. A. & Mechner, F. (1962). Fundamentals of programmed instruction. Columbia Engineering Quarterly [New York] 15(3): 18-21.
  25. ^ Xerox Corporation. (1965b). Xerox Corporation 1965 Annual Report. New York, NY. Also available at Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  26. ^ Xerox Corporation. (1965b). Xerox Corporation 1965 Annual Report. New York, NY. Also available at Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  27. ^ A report to management on the education and training market. (August, 1970). Edubusiness, 2(6),1
  28. ^ Vargas, J. S. (1972). Writing Worthwhile Behavioral Objectives. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  29. ^ Mechner, F. (1963). Science education and behavioral technology. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Teaching Machines and Programmed Learning II (pp. 441-508). Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1965.
  30. ^ Mechner, F. (1965). Some recent advances in behavioral technology. Presented at the March 1965 American Hospital Association Conference on Programmed Instruction. New York: Basic Systems, Inc.
  31. ^ Mechner, F. (1965). Learning by doing through programmed instruction. American Journal of Nursing 65(5): 18-29.
  32. ^ Mechner, F. (1965). Behavioral technology and the development of medical education programs. In J. P. Lysaught (Ed.) Programmed instruction in medical education, 67-76. Rochester Clearing House. Rochester NY: University of Rochester.
  33. ^ Mechner, F. (1967). Behavioral analysis and instructional sequencing. In P. C. Lange (Ed.), Programmed Instruction: The sixty-Sixth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (pp. 81-103). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  34. ^ Dills, C. R. & Romiszowski, A. J. (1997). Instructional development paradigms, Educational Technology Publications, Inc., p. 233. Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
  35. ^ Keller, F. S., & Schoenfeld, W. N. (1950). Principles of Psychology: A Systematic Text in the Science of Behavior. New York: Appleton-Century- Crofts.
  36. ^ Summit, L. (1966b). Excerpts from Spectrum Editorial: Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  37. ^ Markle, S. M. (1967). Programming for Automated Instruction, Introduction to Programming, Documents used for training Basic Systems’ programmers. New York, NY: Basic Systems, Inc. Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron. Also available at: http://mechnerfoundation.org/category/downloads
  38. ^ Mechner, F. (1965). Behavioral technology and the development of medical education programs. In J. P. Lysaught (Ed.) Programmed instruction in medical education, 67-76. Rochester Clearing House. Rochester NY: University of Rochester.
  39. ^ Hain, C. H., & Holder, E. J. (1962). A case study in programed instruction. In S. Margulies & L. D. Eigen (Eds.), Applied Programed Instruction. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  40. ^ Hain, C. H., & Holder, E. J. (1962). A case study in programed instruction. In S. Margulies & L. D. Eigen (Eds.), Applied Programed Instruction. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  41. ^ Fischer, B., Margulies, S., & Mosenfelder, D. (2010). Bobby Fischer teaches chess. Bronx, NY: Ishi Press International.
  42. ^ Xerox Corporation. (1965b). Xerox Corporation 1965 Annual Report. New York, NY. Also available at Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  43. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  44. ^ Mechner, F. & Cook, D.A. (1964). Behavioral technology and manpower development. Publication of the Directorate of Scientific Affairs. Paris, France: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
  45. ^ Mechner, F. (1978). Engineering supervisory job-performance change. Training 15(10): 65-70.
  46. ^ Mechner, F. (1981). A self-instructional course in behavioral analysis of interpersonal interaction skills (coaching, counseling, and leadership) and equipment maintenance skills. Arlington, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute Publication.
  47. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  48. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  49. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  50. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  51. ^ Mechner, F. (2016). Some Historic Roots of School Reform. In Behavioral Science: Tales of Inspiration, Discovery, and Service (pp. 231-254). Beverly, MA: The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
  52. ^ Mechner, F. (1971). Testimony on early childhood development before the Congressional Committee on Education and Labor. Congressional Record of the 91st U.S. Congress.
  53. ^ Senate Finance Committee: Statement of Dr. Francis MEchner, President UEC, Inc. Congressional Record of the 92nd Congress, 324-331. Transcript retrieved from https://mechnerfoundation.org/category/downloads
  54. ^ Mechner, F. (1977). The "problem" of the schools. Educational Technology, 17(1): 45-7.
  55. ^ Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York, NY: Holt and Co.
  56. ^ Dewey, J. (1900). The School and Society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  57. ^ Bruner, J. S. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  58. ^ Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  59. ^ Keller, F. S. (1968). “Good-bye, teacher…” Journal of Appleid Behavior Analysis, 1, 79-89
  60. ^ Mechner, F. (2012). History and implications of the Paideia Personalized Education (PPE) system. http://mechnerfoundation.org/newsite/downloads.html
  61. ^ http://www.queenspaideiaschool.org/ Queens Paideia School Web site.
  62. ^ Mechner, F. (1976). The STACKS project. Archives of The Mechner Foundation at 200 Central Park South, New York, NY. Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  63. ^ http://www.abainternational.org/Events/oslo2009/downloads/InvitedEvents.pdf
  64. ^ Mechner, F. (2012). Remarks regarding Charles Catania's 1981 discussion article "The Flight from Experimental Analysis". European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 13, 227-230.
  65. ^ Mechner, F. & Jones, L. (2011). Effects of sequential aspects of learning history. Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis, 37, 109-138.
  66. ^ Mechner, F. (1989). Present certainty equivalents and weighted scenario valuations. Journal of Business Venturing 4: 85-92.
  67. ^ Xerox Corporation. (1965b). Xerox Corporation 1965 Annual Report. New York, NY. Also available at Mechner papers, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron.
  68. ^ New York Times
  69. ^ Mechner, F. (2008b). An invitation to behavior analysts: Review of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric R. Kandel. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 90: 235-48.
  70. ^ Mechner, F. (2010b). Chess as a behavioral model for cognitive skill research: Review of Blindfold Chess by Eliot Hearst and John Knott. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 94, 373-386.

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