Instructional Design Model


Instruction design models, according to (Smith and Ragan, 1999; Anderson & Keller, 2000; Sjoukje & Cook, 2009) are models which ensure learning objective is achieved through the systematic application of instructions.

Importance of Instructional Design Models

These models ensure learning and training experiences are efficient, effective and appealing (Smith & Ragan, 1999). Basically, the process involves; planning the teaching and/ or learning materials, followed by analyzing, pre-testing, and revising to ensure they meet the needs of the learner, and finally gauging whether the end objective of instilling the learner with knowledge, was achieved (Sjoukje & Cook, 2009 ; Smith and Ragan, 1999). The appeal of instructions is achieved when the learner needs and ability to concentrate are kept into consideration during the designing process (Mergel, 1999).

As stated by Smith and Ragan (1999) the needs of the learner take precedence over all other issues. Ensuring that learning material is systematically directed toward fulfilling this need is one of the basic elements of all models (Hasan, 2001). In order to achieve this, there should be clear guidelines between, the developer of the model, instruction designer and the person in charge of implementing the instructions (smith & Ragan, 1999; Hasan, 2001). Hassan (2003) elaborates that models facilitate this by providing systematic steps and procedure to apply, manage and monitor instructions.

Herridge Group, (2004), site that the replication and flexible nature of most instruction design model aids the teaching/learning process. For example, the amount of detail to be included in each instruction design stage is not limited to the model but based on the decision of the designer (Herridge Group, 2004; Tikao, 2006). Also the iterative nature of the models allows the flow of activities from back to front.These factors provide the instructor with an opportunity of modifying the instruction in the best way he or she deems suitable for the students (Tikao, 2006).

Approaches to Instructions

Direct Approach to Instruction

Direct approach to instruction come into being as a result of class room research conducted in the 1950’s and 60’s (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009). An example of a model used under this approach is the transactional model of direct instruction. It comprises of 4 phases namely the presentation, practice, assessment and evaluation, and finally the monitoring and feed back phase. The first three phases are performed in sequence whereas the last phase is performed throughout the process of teaching (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009).

Jarvela & Sandra (1999) argues that giving the instructor an autonomous control over instruction material and the students, is one of the major advantages of this model. Transactional model unlike other models used under different approaches to instructions can be more beneficial to a learner. The learner’s prerequisite skills and learning abilities are kept into consideration. His or her background and learning needs are carefully considered and addressed effectively (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009).

For example, those with special needs or are slow learners are given more academic learning time (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009). The model is arguably the most suitable for a primary classroom. It helps in sustaining students learning activity by providing the instructor with a platform of issuing reminders and signals. The students in turn respond to these signals by performing their expected duties (Jayasoorin, 2007).

However according to Dijkstra (1997) the effectiveness of this model is undermined due to its inability of motivating the students. Directing learning in a linear step by step manner limits the opportunity of students to experience an initial overview of the knowledge to be acquired. Further more, students prefer to be more involved in the learning process but the model suggests otherwise. All instructions are directed directly by the instructor hence limiting the potential of the model to provide quality training (Dijkstra, 1997).

Discussion approach to instruction

Unlike direct approach to instruction whereby the instructor is fully responsible for issuing and directing instructions, the discussion approach advocates for shared responsibilities between the learners and the instructor (Smith, 2000). Conditions that encourage students to talk about the issues at hand are created. Students are encouraged to brainstorm, discuss as class, as group or with the instructor (Merrill, 2010). Group assignments are also issued (Smith, 2000).

The Hannifen Peck Design Model is an example of a discussion approach to instruction model. Unlike the transaction model, this model has three phases namely; need assessment, Design and Development and implement. However just like the transaction model, one of its main merits is the fact that it evaluates the learner throughout the learning process. The need assessment stage introduces the discussion which progresses through to the other stages. The designer must interact with the learner, encouraging them to communicate and hence establish their learning needs (Haskell, 2008).

The model becomes ineffective when used with students who lack prior knowledge of a specific topic. Novice learners are unable to utilize it. However when the students need to have an in depth understanding of a topic, the model becomes appropriate. Most educationists are in agreement that the model is the most effective in courses which aim to train student to become critical thinkers and good negotiators. An example of such a course is law (Haskell, 2008).

Experiential Instruction Approach

This form of approach is based on the premise that, when a students experiment and reflect on their learning process, the inducement to apply the acquired knowledge and skill increases (Tikao, 2006, p.22; smith, 2000). David Kolb model of experiential approach outlines the 4 phase a learner undergoes to obtain concrete experience (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009). The learner is introduced to an experience, which he or she keenly observe and reflect upon. Afterwards he or she deduces the abstract finding and generalization which will eventually be applied and tested in the field under a new situation (Experience builders, 2003).

Unlike Hannifen Peck Design Model and transactional model, the students using kolbs model gain an advantage of directly interacting with real life situation. They are expected to derive knowledge through the interaction and therefore the acquired knowledge will automatically be more enhanced and easily transferred to other situation. However, on several instances, the model has been criticised due to some of its attributes.

First and foremost the idea that a learner will under go the phases in the order suggest by the model is overridden (experience builders, 2003). Secondly, not every experience have constructive lesson, some might provide irrelevant or misguiding knowledge (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009). The perception and how situation are reflected is not always objective since it is heavily influenced by ones experiences and underlying interests (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009; Experience builders, 2003; Haskell, 2008).

Despite the shortcomings, the model is credited to be very effective in situation whereby the group of learners perceive the world in an almost a similar way (Clark, 2003). Moreover, it is considered as an effective model of training learners to transfer and apply their knowledge in real life situation (Reigeluth & Alison, 2009; Haskell, 2008). It can be adopted in medical school whereby procedural knowledge is paramount.

Problem-based instruction approach

Under problem-based approach to instructions, students are trained to be independent thinkers by allowing them to address intricate problems. This objective is achieved by ensuring the learner get actively involved in their learning process (Tikao, 2006; Reigeluth & Alison, 2009). Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction is a model which is centred on problem solving. Just like most of the earlier mention models, it encompasses four phases of issuing instruction. The first phase is to activate prior knowledge, then the learner demonstrate his or her capability, afterwards he or she must apply these skills, and finally find ways of integrating these skills to real life situation (Merril,2009).

The advantages of this model are somewhat similar to Kolb model, in that both engage students with real life situation. It is very effective when equipping students with complex problem solving technique. These skills are required in professions such as medicine, engineering and law, just to mention a few. Unlike in direct approach to instructions where student rely on the instructor to guide them through the process, here the instructor only facilitates the learning process. Therefore, by engaging student in active problem solving their critical thinking and analytical ability become enhanced (Weiner & Norman, 2008).

However applying it in a class poses some challenges. To start with, it requires a lot of time which is not readily available in classrooms (Weiner & Norman, 2008). Secondly, the standard testing procedures used in most schools limits its application. Also, most teachers refrain from applying it since it requires them to surrender some of their powers to students (Gustafson & Branch, 2002; Merril, 2009)

Simulation approach to instruction

The Gerlach and Ely instruction design Model is an example of a model that can be used under simulation approach to instruction. Its procedural nature makes it efficient. The model advocates for the use of examples and exercises as a valuable way of issuing instruction. Also, it emphasizes on the need of the student to come in contact and interact conclusively with the learning environment. For simulation approach to be effective the instruction should be directed towards a relatively small group. Therefore the above model is very suitable because it prescribe issuing instructions to such a size of group (Kranch, 2010; Leithwo, 1997).

Just like David Kolb model and merril first principle model, this particular model is effective when training student to be more efficient problem solvers. However, unlike the problem based model, when used under the simulation approach, the model does not allow for students to come into direct contact with real life situation. Instead drills and role playing are applied especially, if directly putting the learner in real life situation might prove to be dangerous.

Since under this approach, the learning environment is characterized by role playing and/or animation like images, the learner might undermine the seriousness of the issue at hand. As result the lesson taught and quality of training becomes undermined (Groth & Magliaro, 2008; Leithwo, 1997). The model is mostly used and is appropriate in military training.


It is the duty of the trainer to ensure students are empowered with skills and abilities that will better their future. A trainee after successfully completing training should be able to combat the world challenges, especially in the field he or she is trained in. therefore the trainer should always strive to apply the most appropriate instruction design model. Instruction design models and theories provide valuable guidelines for ensuring learning goals are achieved. When trainers become well a vast with these theories and models there is a high probability that they are going to be successful in their endeavours.


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Weiner, G., & Norman (2008). Trends in Instruction Design Models. N.Y: Harper & Row.

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