Systematic Design of Instruction

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  • Systematic Design of Instruction is a instructional systems design model/method
  • Of course, Systemtic design of instruction could refer any kind of systematic design concept, but in this article we refer to it as the name of a design methodology that is suggested by Dick & Carey (2004).

The model

The Dick and Carey model which has been published in several versions, contains about 10 elements:

  1. Identification of the instructional goal
  2. Instructional analysis of the goal
  3. Analysis of entry behaviors (what learners already know) and learner characteristics (subordinate skills)
  4. Identification of performance objectives
  5. Develop assessment instruments, e.g. criterion-referenced test items
  6. Develop an instructional strategy.
  7. Preparation (development or selection) of instructional materials. This includes for instance a sequence of intermediary objectives to reach, learning activitities for each.
  8. Design and conduct of formative evaluation of instruction. This means that observations are used to improve the design or parts of it.
  9. Revise instruction
  10. Design and conduct summative evaluation

There are also revision loops as you can see in the following diagram made by students in a Carl Berger course on Educational Software Design and Authoring

Dc design.gif

Figure taken from Hee-Sun Lee & Soo-Young Lee's presentation of the Dick and Carey Model)

The Dick & Carey model is quite popular in the e-learning literature and within academic "instructional design shops". It can be used a two different levels: (1) as a general guideline that one can use as starting point for thinking about an own design rule and (2) with all its details including its behaviorist/cogntivist background. Dick and Carey's detailed model is based on the idea that instruction can be broken down into smaller components, that in pedagogical terms can be described as measurable knowledge and skills.

According to Steven J. McGriff some of the key instructional design terms are interpreted as follows in the dick and Carey model:

  • performance objectives: a statement of what the learners will be expected to do when they have completed a specified course of instruction, stated in terms of observable performances (see also Mager)
  • instructional analysis: the procedures applied to an instructional goal in order to identify the relevant skills and their subordinate skills and information required for a student to achieve the goal
  • instructional strategy: an overall plan of activities to achieve an instructional goal; includes the sequence of intermediate objectives and the learning activities leading to the instructional goal
  • hierarchical analysis: technique used with goals in the intellectual skills domain to identify the critical subordinate skills needed to achieve the goal, and their inter-relationships

A good example of this model in use is the WOWDOC (WebCT Ordinal Web Delivery Organization Companion) that was produced to aid faculty with developing course content (Stamm, 2001): “The WOWDOC includes six processes for developing instructional strategies inside the CM: (a) identify the level of online involvement, (b) define pre-instructional activities, (c) select content and determine presentation format, (d) determine learner participation, (e) develop assessment procedures, and (f ) review activities.” (Stamm & Holett, 2001:3).



  • Dick, W., & Carey, L. (1996). The Systematic Design of Instruction, (4th Ed.). New York: Haper Collins College Publishers.
  • Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O., (2001). The systematic design of instruction (5th ed.). New York: Addison-Wesley, Longman.
  • Dick, W., and Carey, L. (2004). The Systematic Design of Instruction. Allyn & Bacon; 6 edition. ISBN 0205412742
  • Stamm, Randy L. & Howlett Bernadette (2001), Creating Effective Course Content in WebCT, An Instructional Design Model, PDF (retrieved 16:07, 19 May 2006 (MEST)).