Sociology Index

Instructional Design Model

A Recursive, Reflective Instructional Design Model Based on Constructivist-Interpretivist Theory - Jerry Willis, Contributing Editor.

Instructional Design Model: In the educational technology literature the term instructional design model has so many meanings that its use has little purpose without further elaboration. In some publications, Instructional Design roughly refers to the field called educational technology in this article (e.g., Riegeluth, 1983). In others, Instructional Design is used to describe the practice of educational technology from a particular theoretical perspective such as behaviorism (Gropper, 1987).

Instructional design may also be the umbrella term indicating the components that should be included in an instructional package (Merril, 1988). The phrase Instructional Design has also been used to indicate the process others have used it to mean a particular model or theory that can guide the design of instruction (Wright & Conroy, 1988).

In this article, instructional design (ID) refers to the process of designing materials, and the term instructional design model (ID model) refers to a model or theory that can guide the instructional design process.

Many instructional design models have been proposed (Bagdonis & Salisbury, 1994). However, the great majority of the models currently available are based on social science theories from the behavioral family, broadly defined to include information processing and cognitive science theories that "break down" content to be taught into smaller units which are then taught with direct instruction strategies. Dick (1995), for example, comments that the "historical roots of what today is referred to as instructional design was Skinnerian psychology, especially as it was manifested in programmed instruction". The Gagne-Briggs (Gagne & Briggs, 1979) and Gropper's (1987) behavioral approach to instructional design come immediately to mind.

While there are real differences within the behavioral (or objectivist or rationalistic or technical/rational) family of theories, they all share related philosophies of science that are objectivist, rational, and empiricist or postempiricist. And the tenets of those philosophies of science can be seen in the instructional design models derived from them. This paper lays the foundation for an alternative instructional design model based on social science theories from the constructivist family and on an interpretivist philosophy of science. These two families of theories-behavioral/objectivist/empiricist/rational and constructivist/interpretivist - have radically different answers to two fundamental questions, and those answers are the reason for many of the differences between a behavioral-empirical instructional design model and a constructive-interpretive Instructional Design model. The two questions involve the role of language and the nature of truth. - Jerry Willis is Professor and Director, Center for Information Technology in Education, University of Houston, Houston, Texas.