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Instructional-Design Theories and Models

Edited by Charles M. Reigeluth and colleagues

Volumes I - IV

How to help people learn better.  That is what instructional-design theories and models are all about.  These four books describe a variety of methods of instruction (different ways of facilitating human learning and development), and when to use – and not use – each of those methods.


Volume I (1983), subtitled An Overview of their Current Status, provides a "snapshot in time" of the status of instructional theory in the early 1980s. Its main purpose was to raise awareness of instructional theories, which were largely overlooked in the shadows of ADDIE and other ISD process models. Most of the theories are classics and are still very useful today, even though they were not explicitly developed as part of the learner-centered paradigm.


Volume II (1999), subtitled A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, provides a concise summary of a broad sampling of work in the late 1990s on a new paradigm of instructional theories for the Information Age. Its main purpose was to raise awareness of the diversity of theories that provide a customized or learner-centered learning experience in all different domains of human learning and development. It also raised awareness of the importance of values in instructional theory.


Volume III (2009), subtitled Building a Common Knowledge Base, was born out of a concern about the extent to which instructional theorists seemed to be working in relative isolation from each other, building their own view of instruction with little regard to building on what knowledge already existed and what terminology had already been used for constructs they also describe. Therefore, Volume III takes some early steps in building a common knowledge base about instruction with a common use of terms.  It also describes some tools for continuing to build a common knowledge base.

Volume IV (2017), subtitled The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education, was conceived by the recognition that the learner-centered paradigm of instruction is closely interrelated with new paradigms of instructional management, assessment, and even curriculum.  First, regarding instructional management, truly learner-centered instruction requires student progress to be based on learning rather than on time.  This is an instructional management strategy as defined in Chapter 1 of Volume I (p. 8), and has consequently not been addressed by instructional theories.  Second, regarding assessment, truly learner-centered instruction requires student learning to be compared to a standard of achievement (criterion-referenced – to know when the learner is ready to move on) rather than to the learning of one’s peers (norm-referenced) and consequently should be integrated with instruction rather than being a separate activity.  Third, regarding curriculum, truly learner-centered instruction requires decisions about what to learn that are responsive to student needs in a society that is much more complex than that of our Industrial-Age forebears.  In sum, decisions about what to teach, how to teach it, and how to assess it must all be dramatically different now compared to those that were appropriate for the Industrial Age, and those decisions should be made together because they are interdependent.  That interdependency has not been addressed in Volumes I-III, but it is addressed in Volume IV.  Also, new instructional methods are continually developed as advances are made in brain sciences, information technology, and other relevant fields, providing another impetus for Volume IV.

These four volumes cover very different territory. None of them was intended to replace its predecessors. We have made a conscious effort to keep duplication to a minimum, so readers interested in mastering the art and science of designing powerful instruction will benefit from all of them.  Each volume includes chapter forewords that summarize their main contributions, to give readers a quick sense of whether or not a chapter addresses their particular interests and needs.

The primary audience for all four volumes is instructional theorists, researchers, and graduate students. An additional audience is instructional designers, teachers, and trainers who are interested in guidance about how to design instruction of high quality.

                                                                                                                        –  C.M.R.,  B.J.B &  R.D.M.

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