Quick Guide To Instructional Design Models

The corporate world realizes the importance of continuous professional development of its employees.

Learning and Development teams work tirelessly to curate effective training materials and methodologies to ensure all employees engage and participate in upskilling themselves. 

The concept of instructional design has become quite popular in developing frameworks for creating learning materials. Instructional design enables a systematic approach to enhancing training using technology and multimedia.

Know more about the instructional design process and models in this article. 

What Is Instructional Design?

Simply put, instructional design is a set of strategies and techniques to develop effective learning materials and experiences. 

Instructional design analyzes an organization’s training requirements by identifying knowledge and skill gaps among the learners. It is the process of designing, developing, and delivering various learning materials, which may include online courses, virtual simulations, training manuals, video tutorials, and interactive presentations. 

Instructional design models are tools or frameworks that act as guidelines to organize appropriate learning methods to achieve instructional goals.  

Instructional Design Process

The instructional design process may comprise the following steps:

Step 1: Analyze the learning needs of the target audience and your business.

Step 2: Prepare learners’ profiles highlighting relevant information such as their roles, responsibilities, skills, technical knowledge, and training preferences.

Step 3: List the learning objectives based on the above analysis and expected outcomes at the end of the training course. 

Step 4: Decide and finalize the approach and methodology for course design. Would it be a mix of videos and games? Would it be virtual reality? Would it be a presentation?

Step 5: Prepare storyboards. This step is important to organize the content and identify its flow through the course. 

Step 6: Create a prototype and run a pilot to test its effectiveness.

Step 7: Go live, and assess its effectiveness regularly. 

Benefits Of Using An Instructional Design Model

All instructional design models have one thing in common – an understanding of the most effective way to deliver training courses to learners. They are based on theories about how people learn, what motivates them to engage in learning and development, and why learners disengage from any training course. 

The developers use these theories to design learning materials that motivate the learners to engage and participate in their professional training.   

Five Most Popular Instructional Design Models

1 – The ADDIE Model


ADDIE stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. It is a five-stage process to create effective learning materials.


Analyze: This stage involves the collection of sufficient information to understand the learning needs and expectations of the organization.

Design: This stage involves the selection of appropriate instructional strategy, learning objectives, media, and delivery methods.

Develop: This stage involves the development of course materials based on outcomes of the design stage.

Implement: This stage involves rolling out training materials to the learners and monitoring their impact.

Evaluate: This stage involves the evaluation of the training materials using feedback, surveys, and analytics.

2 – Bloom’s Taxonomy

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom created a classification system to organize and define levels of cognitive learning. It was revised in 2001 by Anderson and Krathwohl.

The revised taxonomy classifies cognitive learning into six levels, starting with the simplest at the bottom up to the most complex level. 

This model pushes the learners to remember and understand new information and subsequently apply it, analyze, and evaluate its impact. Ultimately, this process aims to enable the learners to develop unique solutions to problems. 

3 – Successive Approximation Model (SAM)

The successive approximation model focuses on performance needs and comprises agile learning frameworks, which are non-linear and iterative. It consists of three steps:

Preparation: This step focuses on gaining basic knowledge of the situation.

Iterative Design: This step involves a continuous process of designing, prototyping, and reviewing to identify the ideal solutions.

Iterative Development: This step involves a continuous process of development, implementation, and evaluation. 

4 – Merrill’s Principles Of Instruction

Merrill’s Principles of Instruction model integrates five learning principles:

Task-centered principle: Identify a real-world problem that learners can relate to.

Activation principle: Activate the learner’s knowledge based on his existing knowledge of the subject.

Demonstration principle: Demonstrate the knowledge using tools such as multimedia.

Application principle: Apply the newly-gained knowledge, and learn from the mistakes. 

Integration principle: Integrate the knowledge into learners’ life using discussion and reflection.

5 – Gagne’s Nine Events Of Instruction

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions uses the behaviorist approach to address various learning conditions. Based on this theory, the nine events that play a significant role in the learning process include:

  • Gaining the learners’ attention.
  • Highlighting and informing the learners of the objectives of the training.
  • Stimulating recall of prior learning by discussing past experiences.
  • Presenting the learning content to learners in an easy-to-comprehend manner.
  • Providing learning guidance to the learners using tutorials, infographics, case examples, etc.
  • Eliciting the performance using activities that enable the learners to recall, utilize and evaluate newly-gained knowledge.
  • Providing feedback on the performance of the learners.
  • Assessing the performance based on expected outcomes.
  • Enhancing retention and transferring to a job.

How To Choose An Instructional Design Model?

Three factors influence an organization to choose the most appropriate instructional design model, as discussed below:

  1.  The capacity of the organization: The first factor that would drive the decision on the ideal instructional design model is the project scope, time, and budget of the organization.  
  2. Comprehensive understanding: Lack of knowledge of market trends limits the Learning and Development teams in choosing the most relevant instructional design model for their organization. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the available models will equip the team with the necessary information. 
  3. Focus on Empathy: Empathy for the learners who would ultimately use the instructional material is the last and vital factor that helps the organization choose the appropriate instructional design model. Human-centered training materials ensure maximum engagement and participation of the learners.   


How different learners acquire and retain new information is a complicated and multifaceted question. There is no one correct answer. This is why there are multiple instructional design models in the industry. 

Broadly, the models may be systematic (linear) or cognitive (non-linear). Comprehensive knowledge of various types of instructional design models will enable organizations to overcome the challenge of choosing the most suitable one for their employees. 

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