Chapter 8: Planning the instructional strategy: Theoretical bases

“As the title indicates, this chapter addresses the ways an instructional designer identifies how instruction engages learners. The term instructional strategy suggests a huge variety of teaching/learning activities, such as group discussions, independent reading, case studies, lectures, computer simulations, worksheets, and cooperative group projects. These are essentially microstrategies—pieces of an overall macrostrategy that must take learners from a motivational introduction to a topic through learners’ mastery of the objectives.” (p.173)

“The macroinstructional strategy (the complete instruction) is usually created by an instructor who must do nearly everything to bring about learning: define the objectives, write the lesson plans and tests, motivate the learners, present the content, engage the students as active participants in the learning process, and administer and score the assessments” (p. 173-174)

Note: You will notice that the macroinstructional strategy aligns with a lot of the instructional design document you are creating.

“Psychologists have been successful, however, in identifying several major components in the learning process that, when present, almost always facilitate learning. Three of these components are motivation, prerequisite and subordinate skills, and practice and feedback.” (p.174)

“Many of the psychologists whose work influenced the original approaches to instructional design forty to fifty years ago were behaviorists. Some behaviorist views were later modified by cognitive explanations of learning, with corresponding modifications and amplifications to the instructional design process. More recently, constructivists have made criticisms of instructional practices for higher-order learning and suggested new approaches.” (p.174)

“An instructional strategy describes the general components of a set of instructional materials and the procedures used with those materials to enable student mastery of learning outcomes.” (p.174)

  • “The concept of an instructional strategy originated with the events of instruction described in cognitive psychologist R. M. Gagné’s Conditions of Learning (1985), in which he defines nine events that represent external instructional activities that support internal mental processes of learning:
    Gaining attention
  • Informing learner of the objective
  • Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning
  • Presenting the stimulus material
  • Providing learning guidance
  • Eliciting the performance
  • Providing feedback about performance correctness
  • Assessing the performance
  • Enhancing retention and transfer” (p.174-175)

“To facilitate the instructional design process, Gagné’s events of instruction are organized here into five major learning components that are part of an overall instructional strategy:

  • Preinstructional activities
  • Content presentation
  • Learner participation
  • Assessment
  • Follow-through activities (p.175)

Note how this aligns with the components mentioned above: motivation, prerequisite and subordinate skills, and practice and feedback

“One of the typical criticisms of instruction is its lack of interest and appeal to the learner. One instructional designer who attempts to deal with this problem in a systematic way is John Keller (2010), who developed the ARCS model based on his review of the psychological literature on motivation. The four parts of his model are Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction (summarized in Table 8.1). To produce instruction that motivates the learner, these four attributes of the instruction must be considered throughout the design of the instructional strategy.” (p.175)

“Bandura’s (1993) theory of self-efficacy predicts that students who believe in their ability to achieve a goal are more likely to do so than are students who doubt their ability.” (p.177-178)

I included some of these theorists in part because we mention them in 602 this week. If you aren’t in 602, don’t worry if there are too many names in here – focus on the ideas.

“Sweller (1994) warns that designers should be aware of the mental processing requirements that too much information and too many intellectual skills can place on a learner’s short-term memory (working memory). He uses the term cognitive load to refer to one’s capacity for holding new information and concepts in mind while processing them and fitting them into the body of knowledge already in permanent memory. Sweller’s article suggests ways that designers can manage the cognitive load in instruction.” (p.179)

“As described in Chapter One, the Dick and Carey Model is rooted in cognitive psychology, and we call it a cognitive model. Constructivism also has roots in cognitive psychology and has two branches: cognitive constructivism and social constructivism. Social constructivism developed from the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the first part of the twentieth century. His views were similar in many respects to Piaget’s developmental theories, but with greater emphasis on social context and social transmission of cultural and intellectual capabilities. Those interested in the origins of his theories may want to read edited translations of some of his original essays (Vygotsky, 1978).” (p.194)

“Driscoll (2005) describes five aspects of constructivism that should be considered in ID. These desired outcomes (goals) of learner-centered inquiry when supported by adaptive learning guidance are (1) reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving; (2) retention, understanding, and use; (3) cognitive flexibility; (4) self-regulation; and (5) mindful reflection and epistemic flexibility.” (p.196)
Driscoll is one of the best books on learning theory. If you want to learn more about learning theories, it is a great book to check out.

“Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt and change one’s mental organization of knowledge and mental management of solution strategies for solving new and unexpected problems. Cognitive flexibility is engendered when students are exposed to multiple representations of the content domain and multiple solution strategies for the same problem and when students are challenged to examine and evaluate their own strategies for solving a problem.” (p.199)


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Foundations of Instructional Design by Rebecca J. Hogue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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