Thursday, October 21, 2010

Instructional Design Article Critique #2

Vail, K. ( 2010, March) American School. Leveling the Field. Volume 197, No.3 pages 14-19

“All research shows when you do something new, it takes five years to show results”. (p.15)  The Adams County School District 50 in Colorado did not have five years to turn things around.  They had persistently low achievement scores, 75 percent of their students were eligible for free and reduced lunches, and almost 40 percent were ELL.  So Adams 50 adopted a standards-based education policy with the idea that children should demonstrate that they have mastered skills before they advance to learn new ones. 
They selected the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (RISC) model because it replaces grade levels with skill levels.  Designer Richard DeLorezo describes it best with “We give kids the road map; they figure out how they learn best”. (p.17) They wanted to empower kids to take responsibility for their education.  If students were struggling, the teachers helped them.  Students determined and controlled the pace that they learned, and it proved successful.  Achievement soared with 95 percent of students going onto postsecondary education.
The system searched for teachers with a “constructive critical eye” and they attended training by DeLorenzo’s group. Board members, principals, and central office staff also attended.  Stipends were paid out, and in return for this money and training, teachers signed a contract to stay within the district for three years.  It took a superintendent with vision to convince parents and community members.  Together they formed an alliance to bring reform to the classroom. Ten levels were identified that would replace the current grade system.  Robert Marzono agreed to work with teachers to determine what skills would be included in each level and how they would be measured. (p.18) 
Students were placed in their level groups in literacy and math.  The reform started in the 2008-2009 school year and early signs of progress are encouraging, with fifth-grade reading and math scores rising  and discipline problems decreasing by 40 percent, “because kids were at their own level, not bored or frustrated.”(p.18)  Students will graduate from high school when they have mastered Level 10 learning targets in the four core classes of reading, math, science, and social studies.    Some students finish early and then continue to take AP classes for college credit. “Our dream is to have kids walk across the stage with 18 college credits” says Principal Shannon Willy. (p.19)
This article raised numerous questions in my mind.  It is obvious for a reform as dramatic as this, to get everybody on board.  What would happen to traditionalist teachers, principals, school board members and parents who were unwilling to change?  Would teachers quit?  School board members change every two to four years and our current administrators and educators being trained in this methodology?
It seems to make sense that this would help slow lowest-performing students by giving them more time and not holding back high-performing students who could move at their own pace.  In my school corporation we have students in middle school who cannot read, or do so at a third grade level.  Indiana schools have passed that promotion will not continue past the third grade if a student does not meet the competency level in reading. This is a small step towards competency based learning, but perhaps it is the beginning of reform as a State.
This model would also take a lot of new learning and training to be successful.  Reading about it is one thing, but witnessing its proof is another.  It would take a substantial amount of money for visitations, to train, promote, and implement this new methodology.  Colorado is depending on Race to the Top monies, but Indiana is already out of the running.  Where would this money come from?  Professional development money has been suspended in Indiana.  Perhaps corporation sponsorship could be one source or a tuition requirement placed on participating students.
Graduation is based on the RISC model, but how would different colleges look at a nontraditional transcript?  Most colleges require SAT scores and credit hours in a college prep curriculum. I feel that this reform would need to be nation-wide or at least state wide to be understood and accepted by state schools.  Everyone would need to be on the same page of understanding.  
This is a radical change on a model that has been in place for centuries, so I can see why pilot schools are necessary to test the water. Competence is not trained behavior but thoughtful capabilities and a developmental process (Barrie and Pace 1997; Chappell 1996).  Studies of the development of expertise as well as the constructivist view of learning suggest that people make judgments and review, reflect on, and change behavior, continually reconstructing relevant and useful knowledge as they interact with a situation (Hodkinson and Issitt 1995; Hyland 1994). This brings assessment to mind.  How would each level of competency be assessed?  Would it be a checklist approach, a pass/fail/ or performance of a skill?  Would students only seek to achieve a minimum level of competency or would they strive for the highest standard?  Would it be a one- time assessment or one of an on-going application? The nature of these competency standards will obviously determine how they should best be assessed. Since they are based on the idea that competence is a construct that is not directly observable but rather is inferred from successful performance, it is clear that performance will be vital for assessment (Education Commission of the States. (1995, January).
I believe that this would foster more authentic forms of assessment.  I know that Physical Education is rather subjective in assessment.  Heart rate monitors would provide data to prove a performance level of competency.  In Language Arts the written word could be a form of assessment as well as solving math problems.  In Indiana it is projected that in three years graduated students could be assessed in the fulfillment of their job performance and their college progression. Competence-based assessment needs t o be relevant for students. Competence, being largely work-based, introduces us to the idea that assessment can be made to be relevant, and to be based on 'real' and lived experience, whether in the workplace, or through hobbies, leisure activities or in wellness practices.  I could see where competency-based education could be more conducive to 21st Century learning and prepare students for their life’s work.
There are no set rules for how learning takes place.  In theory the RISC model means that students can take as much time as they need to learn and develop. An open-ended commitment to an individual education would prove to be most difficult with the implementation of individual learning plans and assessment.  There would have to be some form of a time constraint.  I think that going from a time-based system to a competency-based system will be most difficult.  It would certainly require year-round school and a complete revamp of our thinking.  It will be interesting to watch trends, check achievement, and to see if this reform will take hold all over the country.

Armstrong, P. Raising standards: a creative look at competence and assessment and implications for mainstreaming in university adult education. Retrieved from: 10/17/2010
Education Commission of the States. (1995, January). "Outcome-based" education: An overview. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved from:
Vail, K. ( 2010, March) American School. Leveling the Field. Volume 197, No.3 pages 14-19


Instructional Design Model Comparisons

Instructional design is considered to be both a science and an art.  “A science because it is rooted in learning theories…and an art because the designing of instructional materials is a highly creative process” (Moore, Bates, & Grundling, 2001).  The goal of instructional design is to create successful learning experiences that create the transfer of knowledge.  It is a representation of a view on how people learn.  Models help conceptualize a process or system.  They simplify the complexities of real situations into sets of generic steps that can be applied in many contexts (Gustafson & Branch, 2002).
Knowing that learning theories are an integral part of the instructional design process, the designer must understand how the three fundamental frameworks of theories become guidelines to creating good design models. 
Behaviorism is linking learning to observable behaviors (McGriff, 2001). Instruction has the target stimulus and the provision of opportunities for the learner to practice making the proper response (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Behaviorism theory is basically passive and just requires a learner to respond to stimuli (Boetcke, 1998).  That stimuli being examples like training and the traditional classroom.
Cognitive learning theories place more emphasis on factors within the learner.  It is more about the mental activity, memory, internal coding and structuring by the learner (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Examples are field trips, Discovery Learning, and science labs.  The learners process, store, and retrieve information in the mind for further use (Boetcher, 1998).
Constructivists believe that knowledge is a combination of prior knowledge from prior experiences and they intertwine and build on each other.  Learners have personal interpretations of the world based on individual experience and interactions (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  A successful constructivist learning environment could consist of the internet and hypermedia.  Tasks would be situated in real world contexts like group work, debates, and evidence-giving discussions.  Learners create their own unique education. 
Teachers must use some type of instructional design models in order the plan the instruction.  Without it there is no road map, or real meaning.  It becomes a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach and students are kept busy with a variety of hands-on-activities or they are overwhelmed with information as the teachers ask them to answer the questions at the end of the chapter.   By utilizing an instructional design model the teacher forces him or herself to establish what learning goals are going to be met, and by using different instructional design models in a way that takes the theories and research into account, he or she can implement a valid working lesson.
Gustafson and Branch (2001) have developed taxonomy of models based on specific characteristics.  Classroom-oriented models concentrate on an instructor, students, a classroom, and a piece of instruction that needs to be improved (Prestera, 2002).  Product-oriented models focus on making production more efficient, and Systems-oriented models aim to provide “a complete instructional system for managing learning needs” (Prestera, 2002).
The basic design model is: Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate or the ADDIE.  This model is a systematic approach that is highly adaptable to a variety of learning needs.  Analysis is when you identify the problem, understand what it is and determine the scope of the project before the attempt to solve it.  The time involved in this could require a few hours or a long time depending on the complexity of the problem.  The Design phase is where the teacher constructs the objectives and then the performance steps. It should be systematic and specific (Culatta, 2010).  The design phase not only addresses the learning objectives, but also the assessment instruments, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, lesson planning and media selection.   The Development portion is where the fine tuning of the instruction begins.  The Implement phase is where the instruction is finally put into play.  All aspects are made clear to the learner in this phase so that they understand purpose, method of delivery, testing procedures, and any new learning application that is going to be used. The Evaluation phase of the model is actually not last or least.  The evaluation is actually performed throughout the process. A teacher would not want to spend all the time in building a solution and then wait until the end to see if it was successful.  The evaluation can consist of two parts, formative and summative.  Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process and the summative could consist of tests and providing opportunities for feedback from the users.  In the ADDIE model, each step has an outcome that feeds into the next subsequent step.
ADDIE has been criticized for being too linear or step specific.  Its basic structure does not take a close look at the learner as an individual. It is designed to meet criteria. Most instructional design models are spin-offs or variations of the ADDIE model.  I chose these three to compare because as a classroom teacher I can use all three of these models and give a variation to the content each time that I design.  One model concentrates on the problem, the learner, and the content.  All of these can be successful models dependent on the situation.
The Kemp Design model concentrates on the learner and any of their characteristics that could limit instruction.   It is a holistic approach to instructional design that considers all factors in the environment.  This model prescribes a process that is repetitive and subject to constant revision.  It is very flexible, focuses on content, and appeals to teachers (Prestera, 202).
One element that makes it different from some other models is that the instruction is considered from the perspective of the learner.  “The designer begins by asking six questions related to the required level of learner readiness, instructional strategies and media that are to be most appropriate for the content and the target population, level of learner support required, measurement of achievement, and strategies for formative and summative evaluation “(Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2001).
 This analysis might change the original intention, but can create some great challenges for creative design (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2001). “The Kemp Model consists of nine elements:
1.       Identify instructional problems, and specific goals for designing an instructional program
2.      Examine learner characteristics that should receive attention during planning.
3.      Identify subject content, and analyze task components related to stated goals and purposes.
4.      State instructional objectives for the learner
5.      Sequence content within each instructional unit for logical learning
6.      Design instructional strategies so that each learner can master the objectives.
7.      Plan the instructional message and delivery.
8.      Develop evaluation instruments to assess objectives.
9.      Select resources to support instruction and learning activities.” (Fauser, Henry, & Norman, 2006).
This model does recognize that not all nine elements are required for all projects.  Due to its lack of connectivity between elements and the ability to start at any place within the model, a designer can examine the entire scope of a project or the smallest detail of it just as effectively (Remley, 2002).  It is a classroom-oriented model where the designed can select from existing instructional materials.   It also allows for instructional strategies and media to be selected before the content is analyzed, since one can start at any phase. The required level of instructional design skill is low, the level of front end analysis is minimal and the level of formative evaluation is moderate.  This model supports motivation and feedback approaches which any teacher would appreciate.
The Gerlach & Ely Model is a prescriptive model that is best suited to K-12.  This model allows for a beginning instructional designer to be successful without a lot of front-end analysis.  It emphasizes existing content as the basis for new instruction.   You are not set into a rigid patter of procedure.  A teacher can modify the order of the steps at anytime depending n the settings of the instructional situation.   It starts with a specific content and specific objectives are looked at.  Does the objective look at something which the learner does or produces? Does it state a behavior or a product of the learner’s behavior and it observable or measurable?  Does it state the conditions under which the behavior is to occur as in the example of time or materials? Can it be related to a required standard in the curriculum?
A teacher would want to assess the student’s present skill or if they need instruction.  This could be done with a pre-test. With this information the teacher can then decide how to use this information, select the resources needed and define the role of the student.    From here the teacher will decide what type of instructional approach should be used. It could be inquire-based or expository, but either way it is essential to determine which strategies will best allow the students to meet their objectives.
The organization of groups determines whether a student learns best with others or individually, or through an interaction with the teacher. Gerlach and Ely also emphasize “the need to accommodate individual learning rates via "individual student prescriptions" based upon 1) well-ordered behavioral objectives and 2) appropriate materials to get there” (Gerlach, Vernon, & Ely, 1980).
The usage of space, time, and resources are important aspects to the success of instruction.  Can the objectives be met with what you have or need (resources) in the time allotted and the space provided? Gerlach and Ely differentiate between Learning Resources and Instructional Materials. Materials do not become resources until there is a meaningful context for their use (Gerlach, Vernon, & Ely, 1980).
The evaluation of performance includes that the students did learn something and was that observable and measurable.  Did changes occur in the students and did this happen because of the instruction?
Feedback is this model is essential to the design process.  A teacher can use the information gained from the performance evaluation to determine the quality of the student behavior and the effectiveness of the instructional techniques.
Most instructional designed models, when diagrammed, appear to be linear and rigid, but in application, they are “iterative, moving backwards and forwards between the activities” (Moore, Bates & Grundling, 2002).  Most models are flexible; leaving the designer to decide how much details is required at each step. 
An instructional designer cannot be effective if they are familiar with only one model.  Designers must be able to fit the design to the situation and if you know a variety of models that will enable a designer to be more successful.  Although models have differences, they share a fundamental principle of attempting to deliver effective learning or educational tools.  One is to be reminded that “most research suggests that it is the analysis process, and not the delivery mode, that determines the success of the instruction” (The Herridge Group, Inc. 2010).

ADDIE Model, (n.d.) Retrieved Oct. 4, 2010, from Learning Theories: http://www.learning –theories, com/addie-model.html
CornerStone Newsletter (n.d.) Retrieved on Oct. 7, 2010 from:
Frauser, M. Henry, K. & Norman, D. (4, Feb. 2006). David Kent Norman Online Notebook. Comparison of Alternative Instructional Design Models. Retrieved on October 4, 2010 from :
Gerlach, Vernon S. & Donald P. Ely. Teaching & Media: A Systematic Approach. Second edition. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1980) Retrieved from
Instructional Design, (n.d.) Kemp Design Model. Retrieved on October 11, 2010 from
The Herridge Group, Inc.  (n.d.) Retrieved October 4, 2010 from The Use of Traditional Instructional Systems Design Models for eLearning from