Models of Instructional Design

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Models of Instructional Design

Models of Instructional Design

There are numerous models of instructional design; elements of many of these have made their way into how instructional design is conducted today.


Jerrold Kemp, an American professor, devised a design model based on nine components:

  • Identify the problem and goals.
  • Identify characteristics of the learner.
  • Identify the subject content and perform task analysis.
  • List the learner's objectives.
  • Sequence the content logically.
  • Design the learning so learners are able to master objectives.
  • Plan the delivery of the content.
  • Design an evaluation format.
  • Support instruction through selection of resources.

The Kemp model dictates that an instructional designer can begin with any one of these components when designing learning, that is, it is flexible. Some of the other design methods are more rigid, such as ADDIE.

This model is most often used in higher education, usually classroom learning.


In the 1980s, Robert Gagne, an American psychologist, developed a learning method based on three categories, known as Gagne's hierarchy:

  • Declarative knowledge: involving verbal information.
  • Procedural knowledge: involving motor, intellectual, and cognitive skills.
  • Affective knowledge: involving attitudes.

Based on these, there are five categories of learning:

  • Intellectual skills: The ability to respond to stimuli.
  • Cognitive strategies: The ability to learn and remember.
  • Verbal information: The memorization of such things as names, dates, and faces.
  • Motor skills: The ability to learn how to walk, drive a car, and so on.
  • Attitudes: The bias ingrained in learners toward different situations, ideas, etc.

Further, based on these, there are eight different ways to learn:

  • Signal learning: The simplest form of learning, which involves conditioning.
  • Stimulus-response learning: More advanced learning involving operant conditioning, which rewards and punishes the learner based on classical conditioning.
  • Chaining: More advanced learning that involves connecting more than one stimulus-response bonds that are linked.
  • Verbal association: Chaining in which the links are verbal.
  • Discrimination learning: Advanced learning in which the learner is able to determine what is different between a number of similar stimuli.
  • Concept learning: Learning that involves being able to respond to different stimuli that form a class or category.
  • Rule learning: A chain of concepts.
  • Problem solving: Gagne's highest level of cognition; it involves being able to create a rule or procedure to solve a problem and then use the same method repeatedly.

Gagne's hierarchy is at least in part the basis for much modern instructional design.

As it relates to instructional design, Gagne's theory translates into the following nine design steps:

  1. Gain the learner's attention: Show the learner a problem or situation; let the learner know why it is important. For example, the ID might use a short video to introduce the topic.
  2. Set up the objective for the learner: Communicate to learners what they should be able to do when the learning is completed.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior knowledge: Remind learners of what they have previously learned.
  4. Present the learning: Use text, graphics, sound, and so on to present the learning concepts to students.
  5. Provide guidance: Use alternative approaches to presenting the information. For example, a case study might be presented.
  6. Elicit learner performance: Have learners demonstrate the knowledge. This could be done in the form of a quiz or even a role-playing exercise in a classroom setting.
  7. Provide feedback: Let learners know if they have adequately demonstrated the knowledge. If a quiz was given, answers with explanations could be shown. If a role-playing exercise was completed, the instructor might provide some feedback in the form of tips on what could be improved.
  8. Assess the performance: Learners should demonstrate that they have achieved the learning objective. For example, they might take an assessment test to demonstrate all that they have learned.
  9. Enhance learner retention: Learning continues after instruction with practicing the knowledge that was obtained. For example, there may be a follow-up learning session to review and refresh the learned skills.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's taxonomy is a group of learning objectives, developed by Benjamin Bloom and a group of colleagues in the 1950s.

The taxonomy is made up of three domains, each containing a hierarchy of objectives.

Bloom's Cognitive Domain

The skills within Bloom's cognitive domain involve knowledge and understanding. The following table illustrates the order of processes in the cognitive domain, from lowest order to highest:

Knowledge Remembering previously learned material.
Comprehension The understanding of material.
Application The ability to apply learned material to solve problems.
Analysis Breaking down material into its parts.
Synthesis Using the parts of something to create something new.
Evaluation Making judgments about material.

Bloom's Affective Domain

The skills within Bloom's affective domain involve emotional responses. The following table illustrates the order of processes, from lowest order to highest:

Receiving Active participation in learning.
Valuing Adding value to learned material.
Organizing Adding different values into a set of values.
Characterizing The ability to internalize and act upon a new value.
Synthesis Using the parts of something to create something new.

Bloom's Psychomotor Domain

The skills within Bloom's psychomotor domain involve physical skills and abilities. The following table illustrates the order of processes, from lowest order to highest:

Perception The ability to use sensory skills to guide motor activity.
Set The willingness to act on new knowledge or a skill.
Guided response The early stage of learning a complex skill.
Mechanism The intermediate stage of performing a complex skill.
Complex overt response The ability to perform a complex skill well.
Adaptation Modifying patterns or skills for use in a new context.
Origination Creating a new pattern of movement.

In instructional design, Bloom's cognitive domain is the domain referenced most often. The most common use of the taxonomy is in developing objectives, which will be covered in a future lesson.

Each cognitive domain process is associated with a number of verbs that IDs can use to write learning objectives, including:

  • Knowledge: Define, describe, identify
  • Comprehension: Classify, defend, discuss
  • Application: Apply, demonstrate, manipulate
  • Analysis: Analyze, criticize, illustrate
  • Synthesis: Arrange, develop, prepare
  • Evaluation: Appraise, explain, justify

For example, if an instructional designer was creating an course on using Photoshop to edit photos, the ID might want learners to be able to apply the knowledge learned, and select a verb from the Application level to write the objective, which could be:

Students will manipulate a photograph by improving the contrast and sharpness of the image by selecting and applying the appropriate filter.


The ADDIE model of instructional designer was originally developed by Florida State University in the 1970s. ADDIE is a framework for developing design. Most modern instructional design utilizes ADDIE or a version of ADDIE. This course is based mainly on the ADDIE model, as well.

It is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • Analysis: In the analysis phase, the instructional designer identifies the instructional needs (that is, the problem that needs to be addressed), analyzes goals, objectives, and tasks that need to be completed by the learner, and analyzes the learners themselves.
  • Design: In the design phase, the ID takes the information gleaned in the analysis phase and designs the course. This includes organizing the content, deciding on which sequencing models and strategies will be used, as well as what learning format, and constructs a design plan.
  • Development: In the development phase, the instructional designer creates the course and any other learning materials, and may test the materials.
  • Implementation: In the implementation phase, the instructional designer may participate in selecting and helping to train instructors, if the training is to be delivered in person to learners, and the learning is delivered to students.
  • Evaluation: In the evaluation phase, the ID uses summative and formative evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the learning.

These phases will be discussed more in detail in the rest of the course.