Instructional-Design Theories and Models, Volume II


Green Book II

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    Unit Summaries

Unit 1. About Instructional-Design Theory

Unit 2. Fostering Cognitive Development

Unit 3. Fostering Psychomotor Development

Unit 4. Fostering Affective Development

Unit 5. Reflections and Future Research


    Unit I Forword

This unit has two chapters that are intended to help the reader analyze and understand:

  • The nature of the theories in this book.
  • The ways this new paradigm of instructional-design theory differs from the previous paradigm.
  • Some issues about instructional-design theories that are of interest to researchers and some of interest to practitioners.

I strongly recommend reading these two chapters prior to reading any of the theory chapters.

In this volume, I use the term "design theory" in place of "prescriptive theory", which was used in Volume I as the alternative to descriptive theory. This change is because the connotations of "prescription" are those of rigidity and inflexibility, which are inaccurate conceptions of most instructional-design theories, especially in the new paradigm. This change also makes the term "instructional-design theory" more obviously a kind of design theory. In addition, many people use the term "instructional theory" with the same meaning as instructional-design theory. Therefore, I have sometimes done the same in this volume for the sake of brevity.

This unit introduces you to many of the issues that are addressed throughout this volume. The following questions represent some of the more important of those issues.

  • What are the key characteristics of the new paradigm of instruction?
  • What is an instructional theory, and how does it differ from learning theory and instructional systems development (ISD) processes?
  • What role should values about instruction play in the design of instruction?
  • To what extent should instructional theory and curriculum theory be integrated?
  • To what extent should instruction address all three domains - cognitive, psychomotor, and affective (thinking, doing, and feeling) - in an integrated manner?
  • To what extent should a diversity of methods be offered to practitioners, as opposed to methods from a single theoretical perspective?
  • How much flexibility should an instructional theory offer to practitioners?
  • How much detail should an instructional theory offer in its guidance to practitioners?
  • To what extent should culture or climate of the learning environment be a method in an instructional theory?
  • What role do methods of motivating students play in the new paradigm of instruction?
  • What role do student self-regulation and reflection on learning play in the new paradigm of instruction?
  • What should student assessment be like for the new paradigm of instruction?
  • What is systemic thinking, and to what extent is it important to designing and implementing a new paradigm of instruction?
  • How does "either-or" thinking relate to the new paradigm of instructional theory?
  • What additional kinds of learning are dealt with by the new paradigm of instructional theory?
  • How are the roles of teachers and students different in the new paradigm of instruction? And what are the implications of those new roles for pre-service and in-service professional development of teachers?

These questions are addressed to some extent in Chapters 1 and 2, but for the most part they remain for you to answer as you read through the theories in Units 2-4. The editor's notes throughout the theory chapters should help you to keep those questions in mind and consider some answers that have occurred to me. Furthermore, a few of these questions were addressed in Unit 1 of Volume 1 (Reigeluth, 1983), so you might find it helpful to look at those three chapters, especially Chapter 1.

One of the themes in this volume is that cognitive, affective, and behavioral (psychomotor) development are inextricably linked. Nonetheless, ways of fostering development (i.e., instructional methods) are often quite different for the cognitive aspects of development than for the affective aspects. It is important to understand both the differences and the interrelatedness of these domains of human learning and development.

Another theme has to do with interrelatedness on a broader scale. Curriculum theory and instructional theory are interrelated. Instructional theory, learning theory, and the ISD process (development theory) are interrelated. The different domains of learning are interrelated, and within each of these domains, the different subject areas are interrelated, thematically and in other ways. Interrelationships between instruction and such other areas as student motivation and assessment are also powerful. Learning is related to (influenced by) the climate or culture within which it occurs. Furthermore, other aspects (or subsystems) of the educational system can have powerful influences on the success of implementation of the new paradigm of instruction in a school, such as the administrative system, the professional development system, the record-keeping system, the technological support system, the transportation system, and so forth (and the similar influences exist in corporate training settings). Systems thinking (see, e.g., Boulding, 1985; Checkland, 1981; Hutchins, 1995; Senge, 1990) and chaos theory (Gleick, 1987; Prigogine & Stengers, 1984) provide powerful tools for identifying and understanding the interrelationships that are likely to impact practitioners' ability to successfully implement the new paradigm of instructional theory as well as theorists' ability to successfully build comprehensive instructional theory. Some useful applications of systems thinking to education have been published by Banathy (1991, 1996), Fullan (1993), Jenlink (1995), Reigeluth and Garfinkle (1994), and Schlechty (1990). Given the extent to which interrelationships are important to the new paradigm of instruction, you may find it useful to explore the tools provided by systems thinking and chaos theory.


Banathy, B. H. (1991). Systems design of education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Banathy, B. H. (1996). Designing social systems in a changing world. New York: Plenum Press.

Boulding, K. E. (1985). The world as a total system. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Checkland, P. (1981). Systems thinking, systems practice. Chichester, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces. London: The Falmer Press.

Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos. New York: Vilroy.

Hutchins, C. L. (1995). Systems thinking.

Jenlink, P. M. (1995). Systemic change: Touchstones for the future school. Palatine, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing, Inc.

Prigogine, I., & Stengers, I. (1984). Order out of chaos: Man's new dialogue with nature. Boulder, CO: New Science Library.

Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed.). (1983). Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reigeluth, C. M., & Garfinkle, R. J. (1994). Systemic change in education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Schlechty, P. C. (1990). Schools for the 21st century: Leadership imperatives for educational reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.

Unit 1 table of contents

    Unit 2 Forword

This unit opens with a chapter that helps the reader analyze and understand the theories in the unit. Chapter 3 presents a framework showing six of the more important dimensions on which instructional-design theories can differ from each other, such as the type(s) of learning each addresses and who controls the learning process. Chapter 3 also provides a framework for thinking about problem-based learning.

It was not easy to decide which theories to include in this unit, for there is much exciting work being done on the new paradigm of instructional theory in the cognitive domain. I was particularly sorry not to be able to get contributions from John Anderson (see e.g., Anderson, 1976; Neves & Anderson, 1981) and Rand Spiro (see, e.g., Spiro, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, 1992). I was also sorry not to be able to get contributions from outside of North America. Due to the amount of excellent work being done, I intend to begin work immediately on a Volume III, and I encourage anyone who knows of good work that I should include to contact me at

It was also difficult to decide how to group and sequence the chapters in this unit. I have arranged them loosely on the basis of major similarities. Chapters 4-7 are concerned primarily with understanding - ways of fostering it and kinds of understanding worth fostering. Chapters 8-11 focus primarily on problem-based learning. Chapters 11-13 emphasize collaboration and self-regulation in learning. Chapters 14-15 are concerned primarily with higher-order thinking skills. And Chapters 16-18 address a variety of other concerns. However, it was difficult to categorize the chapters because most of them deal to some extent with most of the categories.

I encourage you to explore the extent to which these 15 theories are incompatible with each other, or are compatible in the sense of being complementary to each other (addressing areas the others don?t address), or are compatible in the sense of offering many of the same methods, albeit perhaps using different terminology. The chapter forewords and editor's notes are intended to help you to think about these issues and to compare and contrast the theories.

As you read through the chapters in this unit, you might find it helpful to periodically review the list of questions.


Anderson, J.R. (1976). Language, memory and thought. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Neves, D.M., & Anderson, J.R. (1981). Knowledge compilation: Mechanisms for the automatization of cognitive skills. In J.R. Anderson (Ed.), Cognitive skills and their acquisition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Spiro, R. J., Feltovich, P. J., Jacobson, M. J., & Coulson, R. L. (1992). Cognitive flexibility, constructivism, and hypertext: Random access instruction for advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. In T. Duffy & D. Jonassen (Eds.), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Unit 2 table of contents

    Unit 3 Forword

Although this unit has only one theory, it is one, which integrates a wide variety of methods from a variety of theoretical perspectives. I encourage you to explore the extent to which the methods and principles (or guidelines) offered by this theory have counterparts in the cognitive domain. I also encourage you to think about whether this theory might represent an example of the kind of highly integrative theory that could benefit the other two domains (cognitive and affective).

Unit 3 table of contents

    Unit 4 Forword

This unit opens with a chapter that helps the reader analyze and understand the theories in the unit. Chapter 20 presents a conceptual model showing six major dimensions of affective development (e.g., emotional, social, moral), along with major components having instructional value for each of those dimensions (e.g., knowledge, skills, attitudes). These should help the reader to understand the differences among the instructional-design theories regarding what to teach. But Chapter 20 also provides an application model that shows eight of the more important dimensions on which instructional-design theories can differ from each other in the affective domain, such as the duration of the affective program and how integrated the topics are.

The first of the five theory chapters (21) is the one that overlaps most with the cognitive domain and in essence provides a bridge between the two domains. Then come chapters that focus on emotional development, (22) attitude development (23), character development (24), and spiritual development (25). But these five theories only begin to deal with the breadth of the kinds of affective development for which guidance is sorely needed. And for the kinds of affective development that are represented here, these five chapters only begin to scratch the surface of the work that has been initiated by theorists all over the world.

Compared to the cognitive domain you might find it easier to explore the extent to which these chapters complement and support each other, as opposed to competing or conflicting with teach other.

It is my hope that the inclusion of these five chapters will increase awareness of the importance of developing more guidance (instructional theory) for people interested in fostering affective dimensions of human learning and development. I also hope these chapters will show that it is possible to offer useful guidance in spite of the tremendous complexity of the affective domain.

As you read through the chapters in this unit, you might find it helpful to periodically review the list of questions on p. ** [Unit 1 Foreword].

Unit 4 table of contents

    Unit 5 Forword

Chapter 1 emphasizes the differences between descriptive theory and design theory. The improvement of descriptive theories revolves around validity, whereas the improvement of design theories revolves around preferability, which methods are better than the alternatives, given your goals, conditions, and values. One of the consequences of this difference is that different kinds of research methodologies are required for improving each of these two kinds of theory. Most of the research methodologies developed to date were designed to advance descriptive theory. The first chapter in this unit (26) addresses this problem by describing a kind of action research or developmental research that seems to hold much promise for advancing design theory. It is my hope that this chapter will raise awareness of the need for, and will stimulate the development of, additional methodologies for advancing design theory, by researchers and practitioners alike. Many theorists in this book seem to have used similar theory-development methodologies, and I am particularly excited by the Corno and Randi approach (Chapter 13).

The remaining chapter in this unit (27) provides some reflections on the collection of theories in this volume. It should be helpful for gaining a broader perspective of the "forest" that contains these individual theories (the "trees").

Unit 5 table of contents

    Post Script

Given that this volume represents but a small sampling of the amount of work being done on the new paradigm of instructional theory, I have already initiated work on a Volume III; and I would like to encourage the reader to inform me of any work that you think might be important to include. You can contact me at or post your suggestion in Comments on additional work in the new paradigm.

I concluded work on this volume with a sense of excitement about the amount of creative and sorely needed work being done to offer guidance for the design of approaches to learning and human development that are learning-focused rather than sorting-focused, as discussed in Chapter 1. But I am also left with a sense of the tremendous amount of work that remains to be done to provide teachers, trainers, software designers, textbook authors, and all others concerned with fostering human learning and development with appropriate levels of guidance for helping people learn.

It is my hope that this volume will contribute in some small way to encouraging more people to work in this area, more journals to publish work of this kind, more funders to support work in this area, and more policy makers and practitioners to implement work of this kind. I would especially like to encourage the development of electronic performance support systems that can help practitioners select and apply the most appropriate design theories for their particular goals, conditions, and values.

Send e-mail to me if you are interested.

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This file was last updated on March 10, 1999 by Byungro Lim
Copyright 1999, Charles M. Reigeluth