Thursday, May 10, 2012

Examining Foundational Instructional Design Models

     In the video “Instructional Design: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” Dr. Charles Reigeluth and Dr. Ana Donaldson point out how there is a lack of common language and terminology within the field of instructional design. As I explore resources related to ADDIE and Dick & Carey instructional design models, I am confronted by many conflicting terms and data. While some researchers indicate that ADDIE germinated—somewhat vaguely-- in the 1970’s in the United States armed forces (Molenda, 2003 ; Baturay, 2008), others (Cowell, Hopkins, McWhorter & Jorden, 2006) cite Educational Psychologist, Robert Gagne, as ADDIE’s “father” (p.1). Even more confounding is Molenda’s (2003) assertion that ADDIE is not really a model but rather a “colloquial label for a systematic approach to instructional development” and authors are simply imbuing the acronym with their own “narrative descriptions of each step” (p.13).
     As I perused different websites for information about ADDIE, I did observe how some sources were leaner than others. Notice how elaborate ADDIE is on Don Clark's website  ( versus how shallow it is on this site ( While I am irritated by the stark contrast between these two authors/websites since I’m trying to build foundational knowledge about ADDIE, I recognize and appreciate how Don Clark is shaping ADDIE's generic form into something more substantial and useful for his professional needs.

     Don Clark is not the only instructional designer to modify ADDIE; in fact, many instructional design models stem from it. In the 1960’s, Walter Dick and Lou Carey based their nine step “Dick & Carey” model on ADDIE. (Dick and Carey expanded the model to ten steps in 2001.) Both are systems-oriented approaches to designing instruction that are applicable to any subject area and easily implemented by novices or experts (Cowell, Hopkins, McWhorter & Jorden, 2006; Baturay, 2008; Gustafson & Branch, 1997). While ADDIE is comprised of only five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, the Dick and Carey model is much more elaborate and dissects ADDIE’s steps even further. For example, the analysis phase spans Dick & Carey’s steps 1 (instructional goals) and 3 (learner’s entry behavior and characteristics). (See all ten steps below.) Addie’s implementation phase does not really parallel any step in the Dick & Carey model, which makes me think that the instructional design team may not necessarily be delivering the training. In other words, the design team creates the course or unit but does not implement it. Gustafson & Branch (1997) corroborate my thinking since they categorize the Dick & Carey model as a systems-oriented approach, which is typically developed by a team and distributed or disseminated.        
     Some researchers have criticized both models for being too rigid or time consuming (Kruse, 2009; Cowell, Hopkins, McWhorter & Jorden, 2006), while others (Reigeluth) highlight ADDIE’s or Dick & Carey’s (Baturay, 2008) recursive capabilities throughout the design process.  The lack of an implementation phase in the Dick & Carey model would be unacceptable for a classroom teacher designing and facilitating her own plan; however, it would be appropriate for a consulting firm that designs an instructional module and distributes it to a client.

     The ADDIE model lends itself to any context, provided that a problem exists and there is a real need for training. Some argue, however, that ADDIE is biased toward instruction (Rossett). The Dick & Carey model is suitable for corporate training projects, government contexts, and military settings (Gustafson & Branch, 1997).

Analyze- identify the learning problem and the gap between learners' current performance and the desired outcome; gather information about timelines, contraints (time, money; technology), delivery options, and learners (demographics, prior knowledge, unique characteristics, attitudes, educational background.)
Design- this is what Dr. Charles Reigeluth calls the "blueprint" for the instructional plan and recommends using a recursive analyze-design-analyze-design-analyze-design type cycle to identify the overall instructional strategy, learning objectives, content, scope and sequence, units or chunks of instruction with corresponding strategies; this is the point designers create the user interface as well as storyboards and prototypes.
Development-the creation all all learning materials and selection of media.
Implementation: delivering intruction to learners.
Evaluation- comprised of formative (just as we check the oil in a car we must continually do mini-checks to gauge learners' comprehension) and summative assessment instruments (the final benchmark that learners' must be able to demonstrate.) The summative assessment should be created after designing the learning objectives, and Dr. Reigeluth suggests that formative evaluations should occur at every step in the ADDIE process.

Dick & Carey:
1. Assess Needs to Identify Goals- what is the desired outcome and what is the GAP between learners' current abilities and the desired outcome.
2. Conduct Instructional Analysis-(task analysis) break down of each individual step required to perform the desired outcome.
Note: steps two and three should be done simultaneously!! 
3. Analyze Leaners and Contexts-- identify learners' characteristics and entry behaviors
4. Write MEASURABLE performance objectives- Cowell, Hopkins, McWhorter & Jorden (2006) suggest "identifying specific skills to be learned, conditions under which they must be performed, and the criteria used to measure learners' successful performance" (p.463).
5. Develop assessment instruments
6. Develop instructional strategies
7. Develop and/or select instructional materials
8. Design and Conduct  formative evaluations of instruction
9. Revise instruction-- this step was added to the model in 2001
10.Design and Conduct Summative evaluation

Baturay, M. (2008). Characteristics of basic instructional design models. Ekev Academic Review, 12(34), 471-482.

Cowell, C, Hopkins, P. C., McWhorter, R., & Jorden, D. L. (2006). Alternative Training Models. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 8(4), 460–475.

 Gustafson, K. L., Branch, R., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, S. Y. (1997). Survey of Instructional Development Models. Third Edition.  Retrieved on 6 May 2012 from

Kruse, K. (2009) Introduction to Instructional Design and the ADDIE model. Retrieved on 8 May 2012 from

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2012, May). ADDIE Model at Retrieved  on 7 May 2012 from

Molenda, M.(2003). In search of the elusive ADDIE model. Performance improvement 42(5), 34-36.

Ryder, M. (2009) Instructional Design Models. Retrieved on 6 May 2012 from University of Colorado at Denver School of Education:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

     As I conclude my first course in the Instructional Design program, I have been reflecting upon the course content and its application to my current and future classrooms. Some of the content presented challenged my thinking since it contradicted my current understanding of educational theory and practices; however, overall the course has deepened my understanding of multiple learning theories and their importance in instructional designs.   

     Throughout my undergraduate studies and professional career as a Middle School English/Gifted educator, I have been a staunch advocate of learning styles and fervent believer that they help people to learn. At the beginning of each new school year, I always identify students as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners and intentionally design activities that appeal to all three styles. After probing learning styles in week six of this course, I was shocked to discover the lack of research supporting them, the lack of validity of most testing instruments used to determine learning styles, and the potential for students’ learning style to fluctuate according to the content or specific learning activity. I also became more honest with myself regarding my application of students’ learning styles to instructional activities.  While it feels good to say that I know my students’ learning styles, I must admit that I do not match students with activities based on their preferred learning style. Instead, I design a variety of activities that appeal to all three modalities.

     By presenting information in different ways, I am more likely to help students digest and learn the targeted information or skills. Before taking this course, I would never have paused to define what I meant by the term “learning.”  It seemed obvious what learning is, and I assumed that everyone probably shared a common definition. However, I discovered that the term is defined differently depending upon an individual’s theoretical approach to education. Learning can be a behavioral change, a physical product, an internal mental process, a personal construction, or a social construct.  

     Each theory not only defines learning in diverse ways, but it also promotes varying active and/or passive roles for the instructor and learner, cites divergent factors that influence learning, transfer, and retention. This course has challenged me to examine Behaviorist, Cognitive, Constructivist, Social Learning, Connectivism, and Adult Learning theories through all of these dimensions, which has deepened my overall understanding of learning theory. As a learner, I have become more cognizant of my own attributes as an adult learner along with my preference for Cognitive, Social Constructivist, and Connectivist theories. In addition, I am also more aware of my strengths and weaknesses throughout the learning process. As an educational professional and future instructional designer, I have developed a strong understanding of the positive and negative aspects of each learning theory as well as how each structures the learning environment and impacts the learning process. Furthermore, I also recognize the importance of designing instruction that is well grounded in theory. A strong foundational knowledge of learning theory will help me to match the best theory to my learners and content. Without a strong theoretical base, an instructional plan could frustrate and de-motivate students as well as not maximize learning materials, instructional activities, or technologies. This was corroborated by Muniandy, Mohammad, and Soon Fook (2007) in their study of elementary teachers. Not only did the teachers lack foundational knowledge about Constructivism, but they also did not base instructional materials, activities, and technologies upon theoretical principles to maximize learning. The researchers asserted that “teachers’ planning, practice, and emphasis were more on the project itself and very little on Constructivism” (p46).

     In addition to a strong theoretical foundation, this course has also connected me with a blogging community of practicing Instructional Designers and enabled me to launch my own dialogue about theory, best practices, and emerging trends in a personal blog. Finally, the course has illuminated topics practicing Instructional Designers should know more about.  For example, I want to dig a little deeper to broaden and enrich my understanding of learning styles, ARCS, and Connectivism.  

     This course has enabled me to expand my knowledge of learning theories and enhanced my ability to weave them into sound instructional plans. I have discovered the advantages and disadvantages of each and feel better prepared to select the best theory based on the task and audience. As a learner, I have become more cognizant of my own preferences and processes during the learning process as well as acquiesced topics that I need to probe independently in order promote own professional development in instructional design.  



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Revisiting Learning Theories

At the beginning of the term, I viewed myself as a Cognitive and Constructivist learner. After exploring the different learning theories and learning styles in greater depth and breadth, I would revise my view to include Cognitivism, Social Learning Theory, and Connectivism. As a learner, I am always striving to simplify, organize, and encode data in meaningful ways that connects to my background knowledge. When approaching a new concept or task, I always begin by brainstorming everything I already know about the topic or task as well as pinpointing any previous experiences that could apply to the new task. Using this background knowledge as a diving board, I can comfortably jump into the pool and swim from the known into the unknown. Cognitive strategies enable me to establish a purpose for reading, interact with text, chunk or organize facts, and encode data into memory. These strategies help not only to monitor mental
processes, but they also enable me to adjust and adapt my approach when certain strategies are not working. Although I had a solid grasp of this learning theory, I discovered many new things about Constructivist learning. After probing it more deeply, I realized that I did not construct knowledge independently on my own little oasis. Instead, I collaborated within a specific learning community (face-to-face at Immaculata and online through Walden) during learning activities to discover meaningful concepts and content. My learning was shaped by all of the divergent voices, ideas, resources, and activities within each context. As a result of this collaboration within each community, I developed knowledge about instructional design and methods of research. On the other hand, I had never heard of Connectivism before taking this class. Technology has become an essential component in my academic endeavors that empowers me to locate formal and informal data sources, save, organize, and annotate resources, collaborate with peers and practicing professionals, and publish my discoveries, explications,
and opinions. Technology is fun and exciting; I am constantly seeking out new tools that can enhance my pedagogy or professional life. With the explosion of technology tools, online communities, and data sources, I have been cultivating a rich network of social, technological, and educational connections. This network has been empowering me to organize, negotiate, collaborate, and present my learning to the world from the convenience of a personal computer in my kitchen! Creating these diverse networks happened quite naturally, without even
knowing that it illustrated an emerging learning theory--Connectivism.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

When I was an undergraduate student studying English literature, professors were distributers of information and students were the consumers. It was vital not only to be well-read but also cognizant of an array of explications published by critics and academics in different schools of
literary thought. Students’ personal interpretations did not matter, since the goal was to understand the formal interpretations of literature presented by prominent scholars in the field. With the advent of the Internet and Web 2.0 tools, there has been a shift away from the formal connections (professor, academics, and researchers) distributing information to an informal network or community of learners building a body of knowledge together.

In the past, I would learn about a content area by listening to lectures, reading the textbook, and exploring the library to locate and peruse resources. After scribbling down a list of potential sources from the library card catalog, I would descend on the stacks to search for all of the
call numbers. Once I located the call number, I developed a habit of probing books on the surrounding shelves and would expand my materials dramatically. Each book yielded not only information about my topic but also a connection to other printed sources that could advance my study in depth or breadth. It was a very formal way of establishing connections within my content. With the advent of the Internet and digitalization of entire libraries, my methodology for researching has remained the same but the sources of information have changed dramatically. Although formal sources—peer reviewed journals and e-books-- are still the backbone of my research, I have expanded my scope to include informal sources, such as
blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, social tagging, and websites. It’s interesting to see how Web 2.0 tools have empowered practitioners and ordinary people to publish their own research or ideas about content areas. This privilege has been reserved only for researchers and academics in the past. Even more interesting is the online dialogue and interaction that is unfolding within these digital platforms as people are presenting, probing, and reshaping knowledge. As I explore each of these unique platforms, I am connected to similar blogs, wikis, articles or websites that expand my thinking and understanding of the content. In essence, my methodology is the same as when I would explore an entire bookshelf looking for connections except now I am scouring cyberspace for connections to help me build up an understanding of particular concepts.

Historically, I have processed and manipulated information primarily on my own or in a small class of twenty other local undergraduates. Now, technology has opened the door for me to negotiate content and concepts with diverse individuals from all over the world. When I am confused about a topic, I have the ability to explore what others have said about it on their blogs, wikis, or websites. I can even post questions on these platforms, if I can not find an acceptable answer, or potentially email qualified individuals directly. In the past, I was limited to asking classmates or the professor for help with my inquiry. As a self-directed learner, I enjoy collaborating with others about areas of interest and searching online connections to find my
own answers. It can be overwhelming, however, to sift through a relative cybersea of information and pinpoint the credible sources as well as discard the unreliable.