Conference 2012: Instructional Design: The Backbone of Effective Education

If you walked into this class a few minutes late, you would have found participants wandering around the room talking to each other, and you might have wondered when class would begin – but participants were already sharing ideas and getting excited about instructional design.

With an active start to keep things moving in this afternoon course, presenters Liz Bullard and Jeff Schrade used the NAJSE Instructional Design curriculum as the foundation for this course and implemented adult education techniques to make the course engaging and relevant.

At the beginning of the course, participants identified a sample topic to use as they practiced instructional design during the course. Then participants were up and moving around to talk to other participants about instructional design.

After the participants returned to their seats, presenters and participants discussed the definition and value of instructional design. Instructional design is a sequence of steps used to plan and deliver a course. For the judicial educator, instructional design can help ensure that crucial elements of the process are employed; it can help faculty know what to teach; it can help students know what to expect from a course; and it can assist the educational organization in evaluating whether the training met its intended purposes.

The group reviewed adult education principles that are integral to instructional design, such as:

  • making courses relevant and applicable to targeted job position,
  • including interactive learning,
  • respecting participants’ experience and existing knowledge,
  • addressing all learning styles, and
  • considering time constraints, sequencing, and time utilization.

Because instructional design should attempt to reach learners of various learning styles, several different theories of learning styles were discussed. Participants considered their preferred learning style, recognizing, however, that an individual learner may not fall into one specific category.

The VAK learning styles model identifies learners as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.

The DISC learning styles profile identifies learners in these categories:

  • Dominance – These learners are direct, self-reliant, and results-oriented.
  • Influence – These people-oriented and process-oriented learners enjoy fun learning and new approaches.
  • Steadiness – These learners are hesitant about change and prefer step-by-step learning.
  • Compliance/Conscientious – These learners are detail-oriented and prefer rules and logical presentations.

The Ned Herrmann Whole Brain Theory identifies four learning styles based on four quadrants of the brain:

  • The Rational Self – These learners like logical rationales and validity.
  • Safekeeping Self – These learners like organized approaches and practical applications.
  • Experimental Self – These learners like new ideas and opportunities to experiment.
  • Feeling Self – These learners like group discussions and hands-on learning.

The Kolb learning styles inventory is based on how learners prefer to process information:

  • Divergers prefer to have direct experiences and consider them.
  • Convergers prefer to think about things before trying.
  • Assimilators prefer a cognitive, thinking approach.
  • Accommodators prefer a hands-on approach.

Ms. Bullard and Mr. Schrade reminded participants that people are always learning, but educators use instructional design to create intentional and purposeful learning.

Several instructional design methods were discussed during this course:

  • Backward – In this design method, Step 1 is to identify desired results, step 2 is to determine what will be acceptable evidence that desired results were achieved, and step 3 is to design the learning plan, experiences, and instruction.
  • ADDIE – This acronym represents five steps: Analyze (identify learning problem, goals of education, audience and its characteristics, and delivery options), Design (determine objectives and content), Develop (create the content and learning materials), Implement (put the instruction into action) and Evaluate (assess participant learning and gather feedback).
  • Systems – This eight-step approach, while similar in some ways to the ADDIE approach, has some specific steps ranging from identifying instructional goals to designing formative and summative evaluations.
  • NASJE’s 11-step Model – This model was introduced in JERITT Monograph Four: Curriculum, Program and Faculty Development: Managing People, Process and Product. This model is similar to the other models but it is more comprehensive and it highlights how the steps are interdependent.

Each table of participants applied one of the first three methods to a topic and then presented their instructional plan to the entire group. The group realized that there were some similarities and some differences among the methods.

As they discussed the steps of the NASJE instructional design model, participants practiced each step and created a plan for their own practice topics. Then each participant shared his or her plan with another participant for constructive suggestions. (NASJE members can view this instructional design model via the instructional design curriculum on the members-only website.)