Instructional Design in Educational Process

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The notion of instructional design is not new and it is definitely referred to educational psychology from the point of view that instructional design is the may of maximizing the effectiveness of learning experience. In broad sense, instructional design deals with investigation of learners’ needs and current state of affairs in educational process, states the end goals of instructions and works under improvement of their efficiency.

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It may be also stated that instructional design is rooted historically and traditionally and is closely related to cognitive and behavioral psychology. I select for my final paper the topic of Instructional Design, also referred to as Instructional Systems Design, as related to educational psychology. A historical developmental overview of this topic will be provided, as well as cognitive load theory as discussed by Paas, Renkl and Sweller (2003) will be investigated with the reference to information on different instructional design models and theorists associated with the topic of instructional design.


The main method, which is used in the research paper, is a consideration of different sources and analysis of information, which is introduced there. The research is directed on the literature review and consideration of results of investigations, which were provided. One of the main concepts, which is discussed in the paper, is the Paas, Renkl and Sweller (2003) investigation, which points to cognitive load theory and its influence on instructional design, which recent developments were provided in the sphere from the perspective of educational psychology.

Moreover, different principles, concepts and categories of cognitive load theory were investigated and their influence on instructional design was analyzed in reference to literature review of different sources. Therefore, investigation is based on the literature review and principle of analysis and evaluation of researched information.

Results and Discussion

Starting a discussion with explaining a meaning of instructional design, it should be mentioned that Eagleton (2008) defines instructional design as “an interdisciplinary field” (p. 1), which combines in itself education, business, psychology and computer technologies, which became part of any field of knowledge for recent years. There is tendency for using instructional system design notion, as a synonym to instructional design, but this is not so, as instructional design is a broader notion. Providing a definition of instructional system design Eagleton (2008) underlined that instructional system design refers to “technology-oriented approaches to curriculum development” (p. 1).

The synonymy of instructional design and instructional system design notions may be explained by similar goals, which these notions try to reach, that is to create an educational process, which will reflect learners’ needs in the combination with its effectiveness, which will be regulated by means of particular learning theory, either constructivism or behaviorism. The profit of instructional design may be concluded out of it aims: as instructional design is aimed to improve educational process and to make it more effective and efficient, so the main profit of instructional design is that it makes educational process more effective and efficient. Being specific, the deeper investigation of instructional design on education will be discussed further (Eagleton, 2008, p. 1).

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Investigating instructional design from the point of view of historical perspective, it may be underlined that there are a number of concepts, which shaped and influenced instructional design in XX century. These concepts will give us an opportunity to understand instructional design models better. So, the concepts of instructional design are as follows, stimulus-response theory, behaviorism, programmed instructions, operant conditioning, constructivism, John Dewey and pragmatism, direct instruction and DISTAR, Madeline Hunter and theory into practice, and computer-assisted learning (Kallio, 2008, p. 3).

Stimulus-response theory influenced instructional design procedure by means of additional motivation and connected it closely to educational psychology. Behaviorism is closely connected with stimulus-response theory, as motivation, which is provided by that theory influences people’s behavior, which is reflected in instructional design. Programmed instructions in instructional design are important as coming out of these instructions educational process may be improved.

Programmed instruction concept is significant in instructional design, as it is considered as the first phase of a chain of developments, which leads to instructional design. Operant conditioning concept is used in instructional design to reinforce tasks and objectives, which are stated before the field. Constructivism discusses that new knowledge may b obtained only through experience and instructional design investigates its new approaches through the experience, which exists in educational practice (Kallio, 2008, p. 4).

Pragmatism theory, developed by John Dewey, has influenced instructional design is the part where education is considered to be not just a number of dry facts, but as interactive process, which involves critical thinking. Direct instruction is one of the concepts, which is rather new in instructional design, was directed to “provide systematic instruction of disadvantaged elementary school children” (Kallio, 2008, p. 4).

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The program was named DISTAR (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading) and war considered to be rather efficient in 1980’s and 1990’s, but the development of instructional design showed that such method should be used in limited way and not used at all. Theory into practice concept by Madeline Hunter investigated the uselessness of instructional design in practice as it was just a theoretical discipline, and theories, which it offered, could not be implemented in life into education, as there were not specific methods, which could be used by teachers in classrooms.

Computer-assisted learning became widespread at schools with the development of Internet technologies in the world. Moreover, instructional design is greatly influenced by computer-assisted earning as programs and innovations, offered by instructional designers should correspond to methods, used in class (Kallio, 2008, p. 4).

Instructional design, like any other system has its models. The main model, which was used for instructional design for many years, was ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation). ADDIE model of instructional design is the basic one, and is used for most processes in the modern world. If design is provided by means of only this model, it will be dry and uninteresting.

The other reason of not to use just ADDIE model is that educational process develops all the time and while providing a instructional design designers should also try to improve their work by means of innovative technologies, as though instructional design should be encouraged by innovations. Therefore, it may be noted that the main aim of designers is to provide a constant search of new approaches to instructional design (Hokanson, Miller, & Hooper, 2008, p. 37).

Hardre (2005) tried to investigate instructional design as a professional development of teachers and the results, which were gained. It may be introduced by means of the following information: education must be careful directed and instructional design is one the main ways to direct and structure educational process, which will correspond to modern needs of learners and include modern innovative changes in the educational process.

As it was stated above, education must be efficient and effective, and to reach this condition educational process must be properly designed. Current researches show that instructional design should be learner-centered (the main target is a learner, so all educational process should be focused on a learner), goal-centered (goals of instructional design must be introduced before starting the analysis), performance-centered (learners should be prepared that their knowledge and skills may be transferred to authentic post instructional contexts), and outcome-centered (measures of the instructional design must be clearly stated).

Following mentioned instructional design’s characteristics, designers may be sure that the work, which is done, will be really helpful to educational process and it will be able to direct education in such a way that it will be effective and efficient (Hardre, 2005, p.167).

The development of innovative technologies in the current world offered new opportunities to instructional design development. First, it should be mentioned that with the development of innovations the aims of instructional design were not changed, otherwise, it became possible to reach set goals faster and with higher efficiency. Instructional design is influenced by innovative technologies greatly and Mayer (2008) tried to investigate that influence through science of learning. Innovative technologies went far and Mayer (2008) offers to use different clips on lessons to support the theme, which is discussed.

Moreover, it is also stated that learners had better perceive extraneous materials and during instructional design the attention should be aid to this fact. Furthermore, providing the investigation of signaling principles in computer-based education, Mayer (2008) proved that learners perceive information better and with higher effectiveness is main points are highlighted (p. 763).

Considering redundancy principle, it was proved that abundance of innovative techniques on the lesson may reduce its effectiveness, for example, students better remember information if it is supported by animation and narration, but the usage of on-screen text in the same combination may lower educational effectiveness of the lesson. Considering the spatial contiguity principle of educational process, instructional design procedure should pay attention to the fact that learners perceive information better when pictures and headings to them are placed near, not far.

The final principle, investigated in the current research is a temporal contiguity principle, which states that people learn better in cases when narration and animation are presented simultaneously rather then go successively (Mayer, 2008, p. 763). Therefore, the research showed some significant features, which should be consulted during working on instructional design with innovative technologies implementation.

The statement that cognitive load theory has been influential in educational psychology may not be denied. Moreover, cognitive load theory introduces guidelines to instructional design, as instructional design is influenced by cognitive load theory greatly. Investigating connection of instructional design and cognitive load theory in educational psychology, Paas, Renkl, & Sweller (2003) pointed out that there is a lot of information, which should be investigated by learners, but this amount of information may be reduced to several elements, which must be present in educational process.

Paas, Renkl, & Sweller (2003) also stated that each element may be investigated separately, without referencing to other elements. Summarizing the research of Paas, Renkl, & Sweller (2003), it may be concluded that the opportunity to consider different elements separately, they remain in the condition of interaction.

Element interactivity, which is discussed in the research, provides the understanding of cognitive load theory categories. The first cognitive load theory category is intrinsic cognitive load, which may be characterized that “demands on working memory capacity imposed by element interactivity are intrinsic to the material being learned” (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2003, p. 1). A second category of cognitive load is extraneous or ineffective cognitive category, which is used when load is unnecessary and the process is provided on acquisition or automation level. Further, third cognitive load category is germane or effective cognitive load, which enhances learning.

The investigation also showed that these three categories are in interaction, but there is one system in categorical interaction. Current research shows that cognitive load theory helps to generate instructional design procedures and help to improve educational process, to make it effective and efficient. Moreover, this research states that cognitive load theory influences instructional design and points out that instructional design should investigate human intelligent agents and limitations in order to be effective (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2003, p. 1).

Instructional designers should take into account cognitive load theory which points that people may gain more knowledge if to consider previously gained information and experience. The first rule is points out that activities should be scheduled and formatted, which adds to learners’ motivation. Furthermore, either learners’ education should remain under control, personal or outside, as effective learning is possible if constantly consider achievements and provide a control. From this controlling perspective of educational process, instructional design mechanism may raise people’s understanding in importance of knowledge and its monitoring, as the effectiveness and efficiency in education may be gained only after consideration of learners’ achievements (van Gog, et al, 2005, p. 74).

To provide proper user-adapted guidelines in design of multimedia instruction, specific principles, based on cognitive load theory, should be followed. First, it should be mentioned that multimedia and dual-modality instructions may be effective only under some circumstances; otherwise, the technique will be not just ineffective but even harmful. Therefore, it may be noted that that during interactional design providing not only students’ desires should be considered, but also the level of students’ experience.

Being specific, the following example may be investigated. Instructional design with the usage of split-source diagrams and texts should consider that textual materials, which are going to be introduced, should be presented in auditory form, excluding written one. Moreover, the mixture of forms is inadmissible, that is written and auditory forms should not be represents at once. If it was decided to introduce materials in auditory form, textual materials should be either easily turned off or even ignored (Kalyuga, Chandler, & Sweller, 2000, p. 135).

Dwelling upon instructional design it may also be mentioned that its procedure and methods have been reconsidered recently. As it was mentioned above, instructional design has been influenced by cognitive load theory and this influence mostly led to some changes. One of the points, which were underlined by cognitive load theory, is that instructional design is randomized if to avoid human cognitive architecture. In fact, instructional design does not count limitations, which of human cognitive architecture, which is important. Moreover, it was already proved that instructional design should take into account cognitive load theory principles: intrinsic and extraneous load, germane load, redundancy and expertise reversal, and evolutionary perspective (Schnotz, W., & Kürschner, 2007, p. 471).

Cook, Krajcik, & Varelas (2006) also investigated the influence of cognitive load theory on instructional design within educational psychology, where they stated that individual differences of learners’ influence the design, cognitive structures and process. Cognitive load theory is helpful for instructional design in question of designing instructional materials, which support educational process. From this perspective, more attention should be paid to working memory and long-term memory, and particularly to points, what information is going to be delivered to learners.

Cognitive load theory also underlines that prior knowledge is significant in the process of instructional design, as different learners, obtaining different amount of prior experience, introduce different cognitive abilities during education (Cook, Krajcik, & Varelas, 2006, p. 1075). Therefore, providing instructional design with the aim of improvement of educational process, designers should pay more attention to prior knowledge of students and cognitive load theory concepts.


The interconnection of cognitive load theory and instructional design is not investigated until the end, which is seen from current investigation. Further research should be provided in the sphere of design principles, which are derived from cognitive load theory and implemented in instructional design. The investigation of literature sources gives us an opportunity to understand the further research is necessary for the sphere of control in instructional design, as students should understand that control is a step to motivation and, in its turn, to improvement in educational process. The question should be answered whether there are any techniques for identification of appropriate training activities and how they may be identified by learners.

Van Gog et al (2005) point out that the question of tasks for students’ learning monitoring should be investigated. The idea of such further investigation was considered out of process-oriented technique, which is a great benefit for teachers in learners’ monitoring process. The investigation should dwell upon tasks, which may be used in practice and implemented by instructional design, referencing to cognitive load theory. Moreover, modern innovative technologies, which have already appeared in the educational process should be applied in instructional design, so new approaches should be investigated and pointed out.


In conclusion, it should be mentioned that this research paper is directed at the investigation of instructional design and its influence by cognitive load theory. Instructional design is directed on the improvement of educational process, creation of schemes, which will be efficient and effective for learners and will include learners’ desires and modern approaches in educational process. During a research, a historical development of instructional design was analyzed and specific concepts, which influenced it investigated. Moreover, it was proved by analysis of different sources that cognitive load theory influences instructional design.

In fact, there are different methods d techniques of instructional design, which may be used in modern world within educational psychology. However, the question of interrelation of instructional design and cognitive load theory needs further investigation, as the development of innovative technologies in the educational sphere demand the appropriate development in the procedure of instructional design should be provided and decisions constructed should be innovative directed.

Reference List

Cook, M., Krajcik, J., & Varelas, M. (2006). Visual Representations in Science Education: The Influence of Prior Knowledge and Cognitive Load Theory on Instructional Design Principles, Science Education, 90(6), 1073-1091.

Eagleton, M. B. (2008). Instructional Design for Special Education. Research Starters Education, 1(1), 1-7.

Hardre, P. L. (2005). Instructional Design as a Professional Development Tool-of-Choice for Graduate Teaching Assistants. Innovative Higher Education, 30(3), 163-175.

Hokanson, B., Miller, C., & Hooper, S. (2008). Role-Based Design: A Contemporary Perspective for Innovation in Instructional Design. TechTrends, 52(6), 36-43.

Kallio, K. A. (2008). Instructional Design. Research Starters Education, 10 (1), 1-6.

Kalyuga, S., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2000). Incorporating learner experience into the design of multimedia instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 126-136.

Mayer, R. (2008). Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction. American Psychologist, 63(8), 760-769.

Paas, F., Renkl, A., & Sweller, J. (2003). Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design: Recent Developments. Journal of Educational Psychology, 38(1), 1-4.

Schnotz, W., & Kürschner, C. (2007). A reconsideration of cognitive load theory. Educational Psychology Review, 19(4), 469-508.

van Gog, T., Ericsson, A. K., Rikers, R. M. J. P., & Paas, F. (2005). Instructional Design for Advanced Learners: Establishing Connections between the Theoretical Frameworks of Cognitive Load and Deliberate Practice. Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(3), 73–81.

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ChalkyPapers. (2022) 'Instructional Design in Educational Process'. 31 January.


ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Instructional Design in Educational Process." January 31, 2022.

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ChalkyPapers. "Instructional Design in Educational Process." January 31, 2022.