Problem-Based Learning: David Merrill's Principles of Instruction by@onyawoibi

Problem-Based Learning: David Merrill's Principles of Instruction

Read on Terminal Reader
Open TLDR
react to story with heart
react to story with light
react to story with boat
react to story with money
Merrill's five guiding principles are as follows: 1. When students are working on real-world challenges, they are more likely to learn. 2. Existing knowledge [and skill] is activated as a basis for new knowledge [and skill] to encourage learning. 3. When new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner, it promotes learning. 4. When a person applies new knowledge, it promotes learning. 5. When new knowledge is integrated into the learner's surroundings, learning is enhanced.
image
Celine Aju  HackerNoon profile picture

Celine Aju

Script Writer @ Street School Education Tutor Experience Manager @ Tuteria


Merrill's Principles of Instruction are a series of very effective problem-based teaching methodologies. The principles are based on the five core principles of instruction and include five solutions for best instructional practices. When teachers use these tactics, student learning, motivation, and involvement improve.


While the principles are listed in order of importance, it should be noted that none are more or less significant than the others, and they must all be followed in order to achieve the best results. The tactics work together to create a classroom environment that encourages mastery learning and active participation from students.


Table of Contents:

  1. Understanding Merrill`s principle of instruction.
  2. 5 Elements of Merrill’s Principle of Instruction

a. Task/ Problem Centered

b. Activation

c. Demonstration

d. Application

e. Integration

  1. Applying Merrill’s Principle

Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction

As discussed earlier, Merril’s First Concepts of Instruction are a series of interconnected principles that, when correctly used in an instructional product or situation, will improve student learning. Educational researcher David Merrill identified and concentrated on these five principles in his study of instructional design theories and models: problem-centric, activation, demonstration, application, and integration.


Merrill's five guiding principles are as follows:


  • [ ]When students are working on real-world challenges, they are more likely to learn.
  • [ ]Existing knowledge [and skill] is activated as a basis for new knowledge [and skill] to encourage learning.
  • [ ]When new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner, it promotes learning.
  • [ ]When a person applies new knowledge, it promotes learning.
  • [ ]When new knowledge is integrated into the learner's surroundings, learning is enhanced.

5 Elements of Merrill’s Principle of Instruction

1. Task/Problem-Centered

When students apply what they've learned to real-world challenges, they're more likely to remember it. For a student to find meaning in their studies, they must make real-world connections. The material is more relevant to the learner when real-life examples from the learner's life, peers, and the wider community are included.


This is accomplished by putting abstract concepts into actual settings, either in the classroom through physical activities or by discussing examples of how this relates outside the classroom. Class discussions, as well as peer group discussions, should take place. When a student is working on a relevant problem, the material becomes more valuable to them.


When learning is relevant, it becomes enjoyable. All learning, according to Merrill, should be based on a real-world problem.

2. Activation

When students can connect what they're studying now with what they've learned before, learning becomes easier. Teaching frequently seeks high-level abstract comprehension without guaranteeing that pupils are prepared and capable of doing so. When earlier learning is ignored, students are more likely to forget the new concepts that the teacher is introducing. Previous knowledge must be taken into consideration, and new learning must be linked to and built upon what is already understood.


Additionally, learning should be done both progressively and as a whole subject, with each stage in the learning process being applied to the full subject. This means that new learning should be demanding enough for the learner to be interested and engaged, but not so difficult that they feel overwhelmed, and that existing knowledge should be used to build new knowledge.


Irrelevant information is rapidly forgotten, whereas active information is remembered for a long time.

3. Demonstration

When students witness a real demonstration of how to address an issue, they are more likely to learn. Learner interest will quickly dwindle if the teacher stands at the front of the class, droning on about the lesson. Demonstrations of new concepts, as well as training on them, must be included in the learning process.


According to Merrill, a demonstration has two levels: information and depiction. Information demonstrations are useful in a variety of situations, but they are broad and abstract.


While depiction demonstrations aren't universally relevant, they are tailored to a certain case study or context. During lessons, make sure there are lots of practical demonstrations to teach students how to apply the new information. Using various examples will also help children with "transfer," or the adaptability with which they apply new knowledge to different settings.

4. Application

When students can immediately apply new material in a meaningful way, learning is aided. Using practical applications to tackle real-world problems makes learning more meaningful and increases the likelihood of retention, according to all learning and teaching theories. Multiple-choice questions aren't taken into account.


Multi-choice quizzes and other surface-level testing exercises only examine recent learning memory and do not assess deep grasp or mastery of the ideas. Learners will be able to create meaningful engagement with new learning through real-world, situational application of new knowledge over numerous classes.


Another application method is procedure assessment, which is letting learners choose the next step in a procedure and then evaluating whether or not they made the correct decision. The learner can engage with new material on an abstract level in a meaningful way by using this application and evaluation technique.

5. Integration

When students can actively interact with what they've learned through discussion, debate, and presentation, learning is aided. The learner must integrate new information into their previous schema so that they can continue to apply and expand on their knowledge in the future. The learner might organize their learning in this way by critically evaluating their learning for themselves and their peers.


The student can connect with the learning in a variety of ways including looking for relevance, applying what they've learned, and critically evaluating it. This implies that individuals can organize their learning in a way that is meaningful to them in order to remember and apply it in the future. This concept returns the teaching to the first principle, which states that learners must discover meaning in their learning and be able to integrate it into their current and future thinking.

Applying Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

The principles are applied as follows:

When students are working on real-world challenges, they are more likely to learn.

  • Display the Task. Give learners a working example of the task they'll be doing.
  • Level of Responsibility: At the problem and task levels, as well as the operation or action level, ensure that learners are engaged.
  • Progression of the Issue: Start with a simple problem and gradually increase the level of difficulty to scaffold learning.

Existing knowledge [and skill] is activated as a basis for new knowledge [and skill] to encourage learning.

  • Pre-existing knowledge and experiences: Make use of the knowledge and experiences that learners already have.
  • New Experience: Make sure duties are exciting, engaging, and genuine.
  • Structure: Begin with a simple problem and gradually increase the level of difficulty to scaffold learning.

When new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner, it promotes learning.

  • Demonstrating Consistency: Provide content with demonstrations and examples that correspond to the learning objectives.

  • Learner Guidance: Provide representations of ideas, concepts, and views to learners.

  • Relevant Media: Ensure that the media you use supports good learning.

When a person applies new knowledge, it promotes learning.

  • Practice Consistency: Align practice activities with learning objectives.
  • Reduced Guidance: Gradually reduce coaching to help learners become more self-sufficient.
  • Diversified Problems: Provide opportunity for students to apply what they've learned to a variety of situations.

When new knowledge is integrated into the learner's surroundings, learning is enhanced.

  • Watch Me: Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and discuss what they've learned.
  • Reflection: Include exercises for reflection to track development.
  • Creation: Encourage students to apply what they've learned in class to their own life.

More in Instructional Design

  1. Merrill`s Principles of Instruction
  2. How to apply Merrill`s Instructional Design Principles
  3. 13 instructional design models


react to story with heart
react to story with light
react to story with boat
react to story with money
L O A D I N G
. . . comments & more!