13 Instructional Design Models Explained: A Complete Guide for Beginners by@onyawoibi

13 Instructional Design Models Explained: A Complete Guide for Beginners

You'll learn what are Instructional Design Models? Why use them, and types of Instructional Design Models: 1. Addie Model 2. Merrill`s Principles of Instruction 3. Gagne's Nine Events of Instructions 4. Bloom's Taxonomy 5. Dick and Carey Model 6. Kemp Design Model 7. Action Mapping by Cathy Moore. 8. Understanding By Design 9. Design Thinking 10. Fink`s Model 11. Kirkpatrick 12. Arcs` Model 13. SAM`s Model
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Celine Aju

Script Writer @ Street School Education Tutor Experience Manager @ Tuteria

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Instructional design models are different strategies to explain the design and development process for instructions. They include ADDIE, Merrill`s Principles of Instruction, Gagne's Nine Events of Instructions, Bloom's Taxonomy, Dick and Carey Model, Kemp Design Model, Action Mapping by Cathy Moore.

Table of Contents

  1. What are Instructional Design Models?

    1. Why use an Instructional Design Model?
    2. Types of Instructional Design Models
  2. Instructional Design Models Explained

    1. Addie Model
    2. Merrill`s Principles of Instruction
    3. Gagne's Nine Events of Instructions
    4. Bloom's Taxonomy
    5. Dick and Carey Model
    6. Kemp Design Model
    7. Action Mapping by Cathy Moore.
    8. Understanding By Design
    9. Design Thinking
    10. Fink`s Model
    11. Kirkpatrick
    12. Arcs` Model
    13. SAM`s Model
  3. A note to Beginners

What are Instructional Design Models?

All instructional design models explore and portray the evolution of mankind's ongoing exploration into the science of how people learn. They can be described as different frameworks used to develop learning materials or models used to organize and visualize learning theories and principles that guide instructional designers in developing learning materials.

Types of Instructional Design Models

There are:


  1. Systematic instructional design models; and
  2. Cognitive instructional design models.


The systematic models refer to models that follow a step-by-step model; they can be referred to as having linear processes such as ADDIE and Gagne's 9 Events. While cognitive models are nonlinear, they focus on principles of cognitive psychology for the development of instruction, such as Bloom's Taxonomy.

Why Use an Instructional Design Model

These processes and strategies are all useful for ensuring that instruction is created effectively, which means it reaches the goal of ensuring people learn.  The principles apply tactics from learner science. This helps instructional designers develop materials that inspire effective and engaging learning experiences.

Instructional Design Models Explained

Instructional design models have been recorded since World War II when America`s war effort demanded a highly effective and methodological approach to training vast numbers of people. From this time, closer attention was paid to how people learn, and such information was used to create effective learning frameworks. Today, these processes have increased tremendously with the rapid changes society has seen. Some models are explained below.

1. Addie Model

ADDIE, commonly referred to as the standard model for any instructional design process, is a five-stage process used in the creation of effective training materials, which was developed by Florida state university`s center for educational technology in the 1970s. It stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.


In the analysis stage, the situation is analyzed, the goals and objectives for the learning material, requirements, needs, skills, and knowledge of the learners. During the Design stage, learning objectives are identified. This step highlights what the learners should gain and learning outcomes. The development stage determines how students can reach the set-out objectives.


The strategies devised in the development stage are tested during the implementation stage. Finally, evaluation occurs in the evaluation stage to determine the success of the program based on preset objectives.

2. Merrill`s Principles of Instruction

David Merrill, an education researcher, developed this model.


“truly effective learning experiences are rooted in problem-solving” that continues with fundamental steps to accomplish this: Demonstration, application, integration & activation. Merrill`s model can be summarized as thus, educators must “show vs. tell’, offer meaningful opportunities for “having learners actually do what they`re learning” (instead of asking “what they`ve learned” as is the case with tests” and “[do]” this in the context of a real-world problem.”


Merrill`s Principles of instruction is a task-centered approach that focuses on the ways learning can be facilitated.

3. Gagne's Nine Events of Instructions

First published in the 1965 book “Conditions of Learning” by Robert Gagne, an educational psychologist who is noted for WWII training efforts. He identified five major categories of learning, namely, verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills, and attitudes. This is a very systematic instructional design process that addresses the different learning conditions. Gagne theorized nine instructional events that are instrumental in the learning process.


They include:


  1. Gaining the attention of the learners;

  2. Highlighting and Communicating the objectives;

  3. Stimulating recall of prior learning

  4. Presenting the stimulus (learning materials or content)

  5. Providing learning guidance

  6. Eliciting performance (through practice)

  7. Providing feedback

  8. Performance Evaluation

  9. Enhance  retention and transfer (of knowledge and skills)


source: http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Nine_events_of_instruction

4. Bloom's Taxonomy

First developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, this model has since then been modified by Anderson and Krathwohl, and in some sphere`s it is not referred to as Revised Taxonomy.  When this model was initially created, it was a classification system that organized the different levels of cognitive learning, hence the repeated reference to it as a cognitive model.  This model has six classification levels:


  • knowledge,

  • comprehension,

  • application,

  • analysis,

  • synthesis,

  • and evaluation.


It is often represented in a pyramid.

5. Dick and Carey Model

Originally published in 1978 by Dick and Lou Carey in their book “ The Systematic Design of Instruction.”


This model focuses on the interrelationship between context, content, instruction, and learning.  According to Dick & Carrey


“Components such as the instructor, learners, materials, instructional activities, delivery system, and learning and performance environments interact with each other and work together to bring about the desired student learning outcomes.”


This is another nonlinear instructional design model.  Components of this approach include:


  • Identify Instructional Goal(s);
  • Conduct Instructional Analysis;
  • Analyze Learners and Contexts;
  • Write Performance Objectives;
  • Develop Assessment Instruments;
  • Develop Instructional Strategy;
  • Develop and Select Instructional Materials;
  • Design and Conduct Formative Evaluation of Instruction;
  • Revise Instruction; and
  • Design and Conduct Summative Evaluation

6. Kemp Instructional Design Model

Commonly described as having a circular structure, this model has a nonlinear structure which conveys the design process is a continuous cycle that requires continuous planning, design, and evaluation to ensure quality instruction.


The nine elements of this design model are,


  • Enumerate learning goals and instructional problems or obstacles that may hinder them;

  • Research the audience to identify learner`s characteristics that you can use to create more relevant course material;

  • Identify the relevant subject matter content and analyze tasks to see whether they align with the identified goals.

  • Clarify the instructional objectives to the learners and how they will benefit from the instructional programs;

  • To facilitate learning through sequential and logical structuring for the content of each instructional unit;

  • Design instructional strategies that will enable learners to master the content and learning outcomes;

  • Devise the instructional message and the delivery mode;

  • Develop evaluation instruments to evaluate the progress of the learners towards achieving the objectives; and

  • Select resources that will provide support for both teaching and learning activities.


This model is particularly useful for developing instructional programs that blend technology, pedagogy, and content to deliver effective,  inclusive, and efficient learning.

7. Action Mapping by Cathy Moore

This employs a visual approach to instructional design and is popularly used in the context of business.  This model is recognized for its ability to replace information dumps with more activity-centered training.  The goal of this model is to help designers:


  • Commit to measurably improving the performance of the business

  • Identify the best solution to the performance problem

  • When training is necessary, create realistic practice activities, not information presentations.


It is often referred to as a mashup of performance consulting and backward design, focusing on real-world behaviors rather than assessment questions.  Action mapping can be used to design eLearning solutions, in-person training events, and simulations.

8. Backward Design/ Understanding by Design ( UbD)

This is another cognitive model. It is based on the ideas and research of cognitive psychology. It is an iterative process that promotes constant reflection and improvement of the curriculum.

9. Design Thinking Model

This is a solution-based approach to solving complex problems by understanding and empathizing with the learner. The design thinking process can be summarized as follows:


  • empathize (set aside personal assumptions of the problem, engage, observe to understand the motivations and experiences of others.);
  • define (analyze the information obtained and synthesize observations in order to define the problem);
  • ideate (using different techniques identify new solutions to the problem); prototype ( produce inexpensive, mini-versions of the product or features to test the proposed solutions);
  • and test ( test the final and complete product)

10. Fink`s Significant Learning Model

A nonlinear interactive model that focuses on significant learning categories and how they impact the learner. It highlights six categories of learning, namely, Foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimension, caring, and learning how to unlearn.

11. ARCS Model

ARCS stands for attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. This is a problem-solving approach to analyzing, sparking, and sustaining learner motivation for the duration of the instruction period.

12. Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation

This is the recognized standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. The levels include:


  • Level 1  Reaction evaluates how paKirkpatrick'srticipants respond to the training;
  • level 2  Learning measures if they actually learned the material;
  • Level 3 Behavior considers if they are using what they learned on the job.
  • Level 4 Results evaluate if the training positively impacted the organization.

13. SAM`s Model

This model focuses largely on performance needs. Like a few other models, SAM`s model is nonlinear. SAM is an agile e-learning development process built specifically for the creation of performance-driven learning. The SAM model is made up of three steps:


  • Step 1- Preparation, characteristically a short step, where the focus is gaining foundational knowledge of the situation.

  • Step 2- Iterative design, commonly referred to as the Savvy Start, is during this phase that a solution is identified through a continuous process of designing, prototyping, and reviewing.

  • Step 3- Iterative Development focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation.

    A Note to Beginners

At the core of all instructional design models is design, development, implementation and evaluation. Although they may take different forms, employ different tactics and follow different processes, they all have a common goal- to ensure the learning or performance objective is reached.

Although it may seem like an endless list of instructional design models, do not be overwhelmed, a basic knowledge of the existence of these models is adequate to begin your journey as an Instructional Designer. Furthermore, your area of specialization will largely influence the models you will be using to create your deliverables.


Good luck on your journey to becoming an instructional designer.


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