Instructional Technology/Models of Instructional Design

What is a Model?


A Model [1] is defined as a schematic description of a system, theory, or phenomenon that accounts for its known or inferred properties and may be used for further study of its characteristics. Examples are economic model; instructional design model; or instructional systems design model. A model can present complex information in a simpler way. Models can also provide frameworks for theory development and research. Models can be procedural (describing how something works) or conceptual (describing components and the relationships between these components).

Instructional Design (ID) or Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Models are visual or verbal representations of the instructional design process that are used to guide and complete design in many training and educational settings (Seels & Glasgow, 1998).

Those who are studying and/or practicing in the field of Instructional Technology are familiar with the basic instructional design model, the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) model. Seels and Glasgow explain that this model is "unlikely to be used without modification or elaboration" (p. 8). In other words, many individuals customize the ADDIE model to meet their unique needs. Seels and Glasgow present their discussion of the ADDIE model in The Generic Instructional Design Model with decision questions for each stage of the ADDIE model (Seels & Glasgow, 1998).

The following is a very basic description of the ADDIE components.

the initial information gathering activities which assess the what, who, how and why of the instructional activity
designing the objectives and desired outcomes of the instructional activity and the overall plan such as timelines, strategies, lesson plans,etc
the actual making of the instructional materials including instructor guides
putting the plan and the instructional materials into action such as completing and offering a computer-based instructional module
checking for the effectiveness of the instructional program both immediately and in the long run

Criticisms of the Use of Models in Designing Instruction

  • Can be too linear
  • Not flexible enough, too rigid
  • Very costly process
  • Rarely used in the "real" world
  • Could be too specific i.e. only applies to one particular situation
  • Could be too general i.e. hard to figure out how to apply to a particular situation

ID versus ISD


Many IT students are struggling to best define and differentiate between Instructional Design (ID) and Instructional Systems Design (ISD). For the purpose of discussing automating instructional design approaches and limitations, Spector & Ohrazda (2003) define ID as a set of interdependent and complex activities that include situation assessment and problem identification, analysis and design, development and production, evaluation, and management and maintenance of learning process and the ID effort (Gagne, Briggs, & Wager, 1992). However, ISD defines the entire set of processes and activities associated with ID and development.

Dick and Carey Model


The Dick and Carey model prescribes a methodology for designing instruction based on a reductionist model of breaking instruction down into smaller components. Instruction is specifically targeted on the skills and knowledge to be taught and supplies the appropriate conditions for the learning of these outcomes.



Dick, W., Carey, L. and Carey, J.O. (2001). The Systematic Design of Instruction. (5th Edition). Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc.

Morrison/Ross/Kemp Model


The Morrison, Ross and Kemp model has nine basic steps in the systematic design process, or what MRK refer to as a "comprehensive instructional design plan" (MRK, p. 7):

  1. Identify instructional problems, and specify goals for designing an instructional program.
  2. Examine learner characteristics that should receive attention during planning.
  3. Identify subject content, and analyze task components related to stated goals and purposes.
  4. State instructional objectives for the learner.
  5. Sequence content within each instructional unit for logical learning.
  6. Design instructional strategies so that each learner can master the objectives.
  7. Plan the instructional message and delivery.
  8. Develop evaluation instruments to assess objectives.
  9. Select resources to support instruction and learning activities.



Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Instructional design models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinhouse on Information and Technology.

Wedman, J., & Tessmer, M. (1991). Adapting instructional design to project circumstance: The layers of necessity model. Educational Technology, 31 (7), 48-52.

School-Based Model


General Military Model


Beeson Model


under construction

Otherwise known as the IDDF+ADDIE Comprehensive Model for Learning & Documentation Development, Beeson (2007) embeds the concepts of the ADDIE model into a broad, comprehensive model for developing learning and learning-related documentation that is scalable and applicable to nearly every situation where an initiative to develop learner skills has been undertaken.

The 4C/ID-Model


The 4C/ID-Model, developed by Jeroen van Merriënboer (van Merriënboer, 1997; van Merriënboer, Jelsma, & Paas, 1992), is characterized by four interrelated components that are essential in blueprints for complex learning environment. The components are

  1. Learning tasks
  2. Supportive information
  3. Procedural information
  4. Part-task practice.

These tasks are sequentially ordered and are to be performed by learners in a simulated environment. Van Merriënboer and others (1997) discuss the 4C/ID-Model [2] as a structure of training blueprint for complex learning and associated instructional methods.

The Merrill's 5-Star Model


Merrill's 5-Star Model [3] also known as The First Principles of Instruction [4], assumes design principles apply regardless of the instructional program or practice prescribed by a given theory or model (Merrill, 2001). According to Merrill [5], the properties of The First Principles of Instruction are three-fold.

  1. Learning from a given program will be facilitated in direct proportion to its implementation of first principle.
  2. First principles can be implemented in any delivery system or using any instruction architecture.
  3. First principles of instruction are design oriented rather than learning oriented.

The 4 distinct phases of learning identified with this problem-based instructional model are

  1. Activation of prior experience
  2. Demonstration of skills
  3. Application of Skills
  4. Integration of these skills into real world activities.

According to Merrill (2001), current instructional models suggest that the most effective learning environments are those that are problem-based and involve the student in the above-stated phases. The prescription for this statement is derived from multiple sources. For example, it is reported that current work in cognitive psychology indicates that students learn better when they are engaged in solving real-world problems (p.5). Showing learners the task or problem they will be able to solve is found to be more effective than stating abstract learning objectives (p.5). Consequently, Merrill argues that at the top level, the instructional design prescriptions based on the first princples are:

  1. Problem-based: That is, learning is facilitated when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.

Some of the arguments/questions for this assertion are: How is the problem/task defined? What are the levels of difficulty in solving the problem? Is the problem simple or complex? How is instruction designed to solve simple or complex problems? Problem-based learning is well articulated in recent instructional models. Authors and reseachers in this area of study include Collins et al (1989); Schank et al (1999); Jonassen (1999); Savery & Duffey (1995); Clark & Blake (1997); and van Merriboer (1997).

ADDIE in 3-D


Historically, instructional technology has taken a culturally neutral stance when it comes to the design of instruction. Recent research shows that culture has an enormous impact on how knowledge is conveyed, received and attained. Knowledge then is socially mediated and all socialization is grounded in culture. Because of this, Thomas, Mitchell and Joseph propose that Instructional Technology move from a systematic to systemic methodology. What’s the difference? Well, in a systemic system, practitioners would use a more integrated, holistic, multi-directional approach to the design of instruction.

The writers also contend that because culture is so much a part of the construction of knowledge that it must underpin not only the analysis phase, but all phases of the design process. Hence, ADDIE – The Third Dimension, which would, consists of three parameters: intention, interaction, and introspection. They go on to say that as culture is the heart of meaning making, it warrants exacting attention in the systemic design process. This way, we as ISD will be able to deliver more culturally sensitive products to an increasing global audience.

This new dimension is interesting and insightful. How have ADDIE, and other similar model structures embrace this concept of cultural sensitivity and similar neglected characteristics? Think of the GRE instructions and assessment. Not only GRE, but also SAT and other similar instructions and assessments designed to select qualified students worldwide. Think of the new international student in the new educational and learning environment. Would there be a new paradigm shift to designing instructions?



Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Instructional design models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinhouse on Information and Technology.

Seels, B. & Glasgow, Z. (1998). Making Instructional Design Decisions (2nd. ed.). OH: Columbus. Prentice Hall.

Spector, M. & Ohrazda, C. (2003). Automating Instructional Design: Approaches and Limitaions. In Book Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 26, p 687-700.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

Thomas, M., Mitchell, M. & Joseph, R. (2002). The third dimension of ADDIE: A cultural embrace. Tech Trends, 46(2), 40-45.

van Merriënboer, J.J.G (1997). Training complex cognitive skills: A four-component instructional design model for technical training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Wedman, J., & Tessmer, M. (1991). Adapting instructional design to project circumstance: The layers of necessity model. Educational Technology, 31 (7), 48-52.

Instructional Technology