Instructional design model

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  • “Design is more than a process; that process, and resulting product, represent a framework of thinking” (Driscoll & Carliner, 2005:9)
  • “Instructional Models are guidelines or sets of strategies on which the approaches to teaching by instructors are based. Effective instructional models are based on learning theories. Learning Theories describe the ways that theorists believe people learn new ideas and concepts. Often, they explain the relationship between information we already know and the new information we are trying to learn.” Learning technology Service, NC State University - 18:11, 18 May 2006 (MEST)]

This is just a short overview article, see also:

Types of design models

This section needs yet to be written

There are probably 2 broad categories:

  1. Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Models that are what DSchneider calls instructional design methods, i.e. “systematic guidelines instructional designers follow in order to create a workshop, a course, a curriculum, an instructional program, or a training session” (McGriff, 2001). A typical example would be ADDIE.
  2. More general guidelines for designing and developing instruction at various levels of granularity. I.e. such models state what should happen during instruction, e.g. what kinds of activities learners and teachers are involved in. Typical examples are Gagne's behaviorist/cognitivist nine events of instruction or the socio-constructivist model for problem-based learning.

This quotation from Elean Qureshi's webpage (2004) shows again this ambiguity between the pursuit of instructional (or even educational) strategy and design methodology: “Models for instructional design provide procedural frameworks for the systematic production of instruction. They incorporate fundamental elements of the instructional design process including analysis of the intended audience or determining goals and objectives (Braxton et al., 1995). An instructional design model gives structure and meaning to an ID problem, enabling the would-be designers to negotiate their design task with a semblance of conscious understanding. Models help to visualize the problem, to break it down into discrete, manageable units. A model should be judged by how it mediates the designer's intention, how well it can share a work load, and how effectively it shifts focus away from itself toward the object of the design activity (Ryder, 2001). Instructional models prescribe how combinations of instructional strategy components should be integrated to produce a course of instruction (Braxton et al, 1995).”

You can find some models by looking at the instructional design models category

Typology of different sorts of models

DSchneider belives that the term instructional design model is overloaded with various meanings. He suggests that we can find at least six kinds (at least for now):

  1. Models that describe a pedagogic strategy in detail
  2. Models that relate to the quality of a design.
  3. Models that provide a method to create a design: See instructional design method
  4. Complementary models that will enhance a design
  5. Change management related models that specifically address the issue of introducing new pedagogics and associated instructional design models
  6. Models that describe the functions of a learning environment

These types can be complementary in certains ways, but not in every way. I.e. a typical instructional systems design method is probably not appropriate for the design of a open-ended project-based learning design.

Typology of pedagogic strategy models

These models define a pedagogic strategy as a design, i.e. something that you can take and adapt to produce an interessting pedagogical scenario.

This typology is based on learning types and formal vs. non-formal education.

For the moment, table entries are not very complete, also consult the list of instructional design models.

Learning Type

Formal situation

Open / informal situation

Learning I-a (information)

Lecturing, teleteaching, "page turners", drill and practise, ....

On-demand tutorials, handbooks, ....

Learning II-b (concepts)

Writing-to-learn, Exploratory concept learning

Literature review

Learning II-a (small know how)

Exercising, e-instruction, simulations, ....

on-demand e-instruction, self-learning with textbooks, ....

Learning II-b (big know how)

Problem-based learning, Inquiry-based learning, Simulation and gaming,...

help desk model, on-demand tutoring, knowledge management,...

Learning III (knowing in

Project-based learning, formal learning e-portfolios, ....

Communities of practice, Mentoring, ....

List of instructional design models


Instructional design models and instructional design methods can be very complex. However, there are some common questions an educator or a course designer should ask:

  1. What do the learners have to learn ? This does not just include definition of the subject matter but also the learning type (in particular the learning level) and a sort of description of what the learner should be able to do with his new knowledge.
  2. Who are the learners ? This includes assessment of their entry skills and maybe learning styles.
  3. What is the setting ? How many learners ? How much resources can you spend ? Who is teaching ? Is the design "industrial" (i.e. a canned product) or can it be dynamically changed ?
  4. Given these constraints, what are the appropriate strategies and instructional design models. Do we need a formal instructional design method ?
  5. How should we evaluate the learning ? Are their institutional rules ?

Brent Wilson (1997) asks: “Is 'content' defined as "What is," "What is presented to the student," or What is expected to be learned?"”. Most likely, we have to answer at least all these three questions. Once we answered these questions, we have to figure out how to design teaching and learning activities.

A bare-bone's instructional model is outlined in Alessi and Trollop (2001:7-10) and called process of instruction. It has four components that usually, but not necessarily, are implemented in this order:

  • Presentation of information to learners (e.g. with tutorials or hypermedia)
  • Guidance of leaners' first interaction with the material
  • Learners practicing the material to enhance fluency and retention (drills, simulations, construction tools, etc.)
  • Assessment of learners to determine how well they have learned the material and what they should do next.


needs to be completed


  • Alessi, Stephen. M. & Trollop, Stanley. R., (2001) Multimedia for Learning (3rd Edition), Pearson Allyn & Bacon, ISBN 0-205-27691-1. (This is probably the best overall introductory textbook for all sorts of interactive multimedia. It includes a lot of learning theory and instructional design theory.)
  • Braxton, S., Bronico, K., & Looms, T. (1995). Instructional design methodologies and techniques. (Dead web page cited by Qureshi)
  • Driscoll, M., Carliner, S. (2005) Advanced Web-Based Training : Adapting Real World Strategies in Your Online Learning, Pfeiffer. ISBN 0787969796
  • Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Instructional design models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.
  • Kemp, J.E., Morrison, G.R., & Ross, S.M. (1996). Designing Effective Instruction, 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • McGriff, Steven (2001), Instructional Systems Design Models, Pennsylvania State University, Web Page accessed on 18:11, 18 May 2006 (MEST).
  • Qureshi, Elena (2004), Instructional Design, University of Windsor, Web Page accessed on 18:31, 18 May 2006 (MEST).
  • Orey, Michael (ed.) (2001-present). Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology HTML. This is an nice open content e-book reader with many excellent articles, including a section on Instructional Theories and Models
  • Wilson, Brent, G. (1997) Reflections on Constructivism and Instructional Design, Preprint for (C. R. Dills and A. A. Romiszowski (Eds.), Instructional Development Paradigms Englewood Cliffs NJ: Educational Technology Publications. HTML
  • Picciano, A. (2017). Theories and Frameworks for Online Education: Seeking an Integrated Model. Online Learning, 21(3). doi: