Assessing Need: Finding Common Ground for Instructional Development – Instructional Design.

            Planning occupies a considerably portion of time for educators, managers, designers, trainers, and evaluators. Effective educators and leaders must engage in planning. One component of planning instructional development is assessment. Assessment, like instructional development, is a process that the instructional designer identifies and measures gaps between the present situation and what is needed by an individual or a group. Assessment is a procedural design-processing tool useful for problem solving. Needs Assessment is a common process shared in Instructional Design and Instructional Development.

            Authors Shambaugh & Magliaro (1997) describes instructional design as “an intellectual process which systematically analyzes the needs of the learners and provides feature to assist designers constructed structured possibilities to responsively address those needs.” (p. 24) 

            The terms instructional design and instructional development are often interchanged. Dick, (1993) describes instructional system design (ISD) as a process for determining what to teach and how to teach it. Richey (1986) describes instructional design as a detailed specification for development, evaluation and maintenance that facilitates learning. Gagne, Briggs, & Wager (1992) describes instructional development is the process of implement the plan while ISD is the process of planning. Seels & Glasgow (1992) view it as process of developing specific instruction learning and instructional theory to create quality instruction. Smith & Ragan view instructional design as a systematic process of reproducing learning and instruction principles into materials and activities. (In Shambaugh & Magliaro, p. 25)

            Molenda (1987) defines instructional design as a process of deciding what methods of instruction are best for making desired learner behaviors changes. These changes may be for specific knowledge and skills required for a specific subject or targeted learning group.   Instructional development is “the process of prescribing and using optimal procedures for creating new instruction in a given situation.” Molenda prefers the term ‘instructional development’ because it refers “to the systematic process of analyzing, designing, producing, evaluating and implement instructional systems or components thereof.” Instructional design is a ‘subset’ of instructional development because is refers to specific instructional methods or treatments.

            Instructional design and instructional development share commonality. Both terms requires a series of actions (process) directed toward a specific aim. It requires actions that produce change or development. Rather than attempting to separate instructional design and instructional development, it is easier to combine the terms and reference it as instructional system development (ISD). The term system implies that specific instructional process methods are included

            So why is needs assessment crucial to the effective ISD? Ambiguity shrouds the ISD discipline, because learner assessment was inappropriate to the selected theory or instructional method. Assessment did not match reality of the learner and the instructional environment. During the ISD process, can ambiguity be reduced?

            Using the class readings and previous course discussions, and research I offer two tools, principles and methods to improve ISD assessment.

Use Models:

            Shambaugh (1997) says models have three useful purposes. First, they are useful for understanding and representing reality that helps to explain complex systems (Cognitive). Second, models help to communicate understanding how the learner and designer perceive the environment (Behavioral). Third, models help to reveal the hidden reality, about “what our views are about learning, teaching or designing” (Constructivists).

             Models can be practical and useful assessment tools; however, Schiffman (1986) caution s the application of learning theory is crucial to selecting and using the correct model. At the primary level, effective models should address learner’s needs, assessing tasks and content.

            Models may be simple or complex. The course reading, Faster, Cheaper, and Better, offers insight into a model that uses three elements, activities, behavioral outcomes and content. Assessment is informally guided using a set of principles developed through work experience. Assessment principles, that include; “keep continuously updated and upgrading training materials and methods,” “treat all evaluation as formative; using evaluation feedback to improve the training, and present content in ‘the raw form’ and invite learners to organize them into meaningful clusters. 

            Different learning methods suit different learning needs. Learning is a complex process. Model selection requires a judgment. Individual needs and group needs are different. Model selection must be appropriately balanced for the correct purpose.   

Assess the learner using appropriate theory

            Learning need is defined as a gap or discrepancy between what the competencies specified in the models and learners present level of development. (Knowles, 2005, in the Adult Learner, p. 125)

            All learners are individuals, in constructing an ISD, entails assessing individual learning experiences. Adult education requires using assessment models that emphasis a facilitate and guided approach that appropriately matches adult education theory and learning principles.

            Andragogy is the theory and practice of educating adults as opposed to pedagogy that is concerned with the education of children. Knowles offers four principles of assessing the adult learner. (1) Begin a needs assessment with the learner or the group. (2) Establish a safe and trusting learning environment that supports freedom of expression. (3) Involve the learner, as much as possible, in the learning process. (4) Keep the learner apprised of their progress toward their learning goal.

            Knowles principles suggest that the adult learner creates his own learning model, based on his particular learning needs. Assessment is self-assessment; however, the ISD developer providing the learner with the tools and procedures for obtaining data and making responsible judgments about their level of development of the competencies.” (p. 125-124)

            Knowles self-assessment principles are adaptable for cognitive, behavioral and constructivists learning theories. The ISD and the adult learner is designing and assessing a pattern of learning experiences through feedback and reflection.


            Assessment is crucial to the systemic process of ISD. Models offer a realistic and systematic method to communicate and explain complex views of interaction between the  learner, the learning environment and learning theory.

            Learning theory is essential to assess if a gap exists between the learner and the ISD goal. All learners should be involved in assessing their learning needs. This may through a formal or informal process. Regardless what learning theory one uses, assessment is critical to the ISD process. Assessment remains a valuable procedural design-processing tool useful for problem solving.

Review: Five assumptions of adult learning:

(1) Adults are independent and self-directing. (2) They have a great deal of experiences that is a rich source of learning. 3) They value learning that is useful in their daily lives. (4) They are problem centered that offers immediate approaches rather that subject centered approaches. (5) Adults are motivated to learn by internal drives rather than external ones

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Week 3 _ My Proposal and Argument Points

A basic premise that is common to all is learning is an active process. In the learning situation that I proposed, is a blended approach, but it depends on the context of the training and the desired outcomes expected.

I personally prefer using a constructivism. In the educational process, learning needs assessment is crucial. Different learning theories and methods suit learners and instructors differently. There needs to be a starting point for advocating one specific theory over another.  

What I would like to suggest is that we examine Malcom Knowles principles of adult learning. The readings did not reference Knowles contributions in informal adult education and self-knowledge and andragogy. Andragogy is the art and science of helping adults learn. He offers five assumptions of adult learning. (1) Adults are independent and self-directing. (2) They have a great deal of experiences that is a rich source of learning. 3) They value learning that is useful in their daily lives. (4)They are problem centered that offers immediate approaches rather that subject centered approaches. (5) Adults are motivated to learn by internal drives rather than external ones.

I believe an effective learning program can be developed if the assumptions of adult learning are woven into the training program. The learner must be active contributor to the process. Learning is related to solving real problems, and current knowledge and experience are critical to the learning situation.

Each theory has limitations, but selective theory must be adaptive to learner’s reactions.

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Week 3 _ Compare and Contrast Theory (Constructivism, Cognitivism and Behaviorism)

Constructivism Cognitivism (in Duffy, p. 102-103) Behaviorism (In Ertmer & Newby) 
Theory: Instructor is viewed as guide, that facilitates learning, not as a transmitter of knowledge Theory: “Cognition theories stress the acquisition  of knowledge and internal mental structure.” (In Ertmer & Newby, p. 57)

There is not a prescription for every possible combination of instructional conditions. Predicting learner behavior because it difficult to assess how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved in the mind.

Didactic instruction, (subject information) links theory with practice or current situation.

Theory: Learning is accomplished when a proper response is demonstrated. The key components are stimulus and response
Learning is based on prior knowledge; instructor role is to provide learning experiences that expose inconsistencies between student’s current understanding and new knowledge. Individual differences make it difficult to make predict learning because students aptitudes and skills differ, including their prior knowledge, motivation, beliefs, anxiety levels, and intellectual development. The arrangement of the stimuli and consequences within the environment is the most critical. Learners determine starting points and the effective reinforcements. (p. 55)
Student should be engaged in their learning in an active way, with relevant problem and group interaction Some learns know how they learn best and may not use the strategy selected for them. If the wrong learning strategy is selected it difficult to predict the learning behavior because students may not monitor their learning progress and they inability to change learning strategies.   Memory is crucial, and requires periodic practice and reinforcement over time to maintain a learners readiness to respond. (p. 55)
Reflection is necessary for examination of the new experiences. Research in situated learning indicates that in ‘most everyday cognition is not planful and is most likely to depend on what is afforded by the particular situation in which it takes place.” (p. 103) Transfer is the application of the learned knowledge in new ways or situations, as well as to how prior knowledge affects new learning. (p. 55-56)
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Week 3 _ My summary of constructivist perspective in teaching and learning

According to Duffy & Conningham, constructivism shares similarities and differences between many learning theories; however, the basic tenets are (1) learning is an active process of constructing rather than communicating knowledge, and (2) instruction is a process supporting construction rather than communicating knowledge. (p. 2) 

Burton, Moore and Magliaro view constructivism as that knowledge that is developed by the individual. The framework of constructivism does not assume there is common or shared meaning, but the learner seeks to understand from different perspectives. From a learner perspective, the learner is not expected to acquire the experts (the instructors) meaning, thus the goal is not to transmit knowledge approach (teacher to learner) but the instructor role is understand and challenge the learners thinking.

From a historical perspective, John Dewey, early 19 & 20 century philosopher and educator, described this as situated learning or learning by doing. Dewey argued, “Life, including vocations should form the basic context for learning.” Thus learning any subject was anchored in a larger community or social context.” (in Duffy, p. 4) Learning occurred within a community.

The primary idea of constructivism is the learners construct their own knowledge based on what they already know. Because learning is active, not passive, the learners make self-judgements about how and when to modify their knowledge. Learning becomes the activity of the learner. Duffy and Cunningham equate constructivism as self-directed learning. 

Self directed learning is a method of organizing teaching and learning so that the learning within the learners control. The goal of the self-directed learning is the learner will seek to become and accept responsibility for his or her own learning.

The Mind as Rhizome (MAR) is a metaphor proposed by Umberto Eco (1984) describes the possibilities of self-directed learning. The learning mind is not fixed, but their structure of learning is dynamic and changing. Learning is not hierarchy but has not outside or inside limits but becomes an open network than can be connected with other dimensions. (in Duffy, p. 8) The MAR metaphor allows the learner to construct; many views and offering multiple perspectives.

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Week 3_Proposed Learning Environment

Proposed Learning Environment Case: A general practice training, it may suitable either in an institutional setting, or in corporate business-training program. 

Situation: Instructor assigned to mentor a small group of new teachers, (graduate students, or department store manager because you have proven leadership and experience. In the past, you have successful conducted recognized formal effective training; however, due to a busy schedule you have limited time to spend with the new teachers, (graduate students, store managers). You problem is how you may contribute to providing a valuable and effective learning experience for the learner.  

You are dedicated to the organization; you recognize the importance of effective training, because it reduces personnel turnover, and improves individual and organization moral. Personally, you enjoy mentoring; because it increases you status in the organization.  What will you do.

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Educational Technology _ Instructional Technology – Where do I Fit?

            In reading this course readings, it become evident terms ‘education technology’ (ET) and ‘instructional technology’ (IT) are evolving. My first reaction was “I will know it when I see it”, but this casual observation remark is simplistic and naïve. The question asked is which term (ET or IT) do I consider myself part of?

             Before arguing or opposing one term over the other, it is important to recognize what bias and prejudices influence my thinking and decision.

             From a historical view, Seels and Richey (1994) says the process of providing a formal definition requires reexamination of the terms from historical perspective. How have the terms evolved and matured? In what contexts are, the terms explained and applied? What forces shape ET & IT role?

             Gentry offers a historical overview, interpreting the term technology, describing its educational role, and defining the term. Gentry concludes that the definition depends on the project focus and project context and situation. (In Anglin, (1995) p. 9) Role becomes critical. What is the role of ET and IT? Does ET and IT develop by chance? What are our expectations?

             What influences role? According to Finn (1953) theory and research, intellectual technique, practical application, training and certification, enforced ethics and association and communication are influences. (In Seels & Richey (1994), chapter 5, p. 115) ET and IT role evolves, matures and progress across project context and time. For me a new question develops for what purpose is the role of ET and IT.

             The emergence of definition ET & IT according to Finn (1953) “must be broad enough to encompass the many interests and specialties present in the field.” This is crucial because common identification is necessary for community adoption. Community is analogous to schools, curriculum, instructors, students and activities. Schools and curriculum, teachers and students are system components lumped into the term education. Education is too broad. John Dewey (personally a favorite of mine) defined education as “the enterprise of supplying the conditions, which ensure growth, or adequacy of life, irrespective of age.” (In Democracy and Education, p. 61) For me more questions emerge, what is learning? What is instruction? How does learning occur? Is learning by chance or is it designed?

             Gagne moves beyond Dewey educational definition. Robert Gagne (1916-2002) offered the educational and academic community theories about conditions of learning, principles of information processing and models of cognitive learning. Gagne states “The purpose of instruction is to help people learn.” “Instruction is a set of events embedded in purposeful activities that facilitate learning.” Teaching tasks include selecting materials, assessing, managing, monitoring, facilitating and serving as a resource. Instruction involves using a range of activities to engage the learner. Instruction involves understanding and the practice of the principles, design, vision, assessment, monitoring, and evaluation. Instruction is a process role. Instruction becomes a process of ‘intention’ as opposed to ‘incidental’ learning.” Learning has stated desired and meaningful learning outcomes. The learning outcomes may be information learning or problem solving skills (Gagne’ 2005, p 1- 3)

             Gagne recognizes that learning is a complex process influenced by many variables. Gagne advocated that instruction is designed, using models that are applicable at many levels. Instructional design requires involving learners. There are sub components that requiring, matching the desired learning outcomes, instructional methods, and learner assessment. Finally, different learning outcomes require different methods. The conditions to learning must be equal the appropriate outcomes.

             I subscribe to Seels & Richie (1994) definition, “Instructional Technology is the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of process and resources for learning.” (p. 1). This definition fits Gagne’ principles of learning and instruction design.

             For me, educational Technology represents the concept Gentry described as large scale involving long periods of time.” (p. 9). Education Technology is too general, implies there are specific skills and tools required. Instructional technology personalized the learning process.

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