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Instructional-Design Theories and Models: Volume IV, The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education

Edited by Charles M. Reigeluth, Brian J. Beatty & Rodney D. Myers       2017

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Chapter 11

Designing Technology for the Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education

Charles M. Reigeluth


Editors’ Foreword


Preconditions (when to use the theory)


  • All content.


  • All Students.

      Learning environments

  • Learner-centered and personalized rather than teacher-centered and one-size-fits-all.

      Instructional development constraints

  • Requires substantial integrated technology support for instruction, communication, collaboration and administration.


Values (opinions about what is important)

      About ends (learning goals)

  • All kinds of learning goals are supported.

  • Development of self-regulation skills and group-process skills is highly valued.

      About means (instructional methods)

  • Immersive, authentic, motivating learning environments and tasks are highly valued.

  • Supporting the work of the learner foremost and also supporting the work of the teacher are highly valued.

  • Providing learners with just-in-time coaching and instructional support during performance of authentic tasks is highly valued.

  • Personalizing instruction to individual learner needs and preferences is highly valued.

  • Embedding authentic assessment within the learning environment, avoiding the need for separate tests to certify learner attainments, is highly valued.

  • Freeing teachers from many of their routine, boring tasks is highly valued.

  • Facilitating communication and collaboration among learners and between learners and teachers, learners and parents, and teachers and parents is highly valued.

  • Seamless integration of technology-delivered functions into a single system that is modular, interoperable, and customizable is highly valued.

      About priorities (criteria for successful instruction)

  • Effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal are all highly valued.

      About power (to make decisions about the previous three)

  • Empowering learners and supporting their self-directed learning is highly valued.


Universal Principles*

     1. Recordkeeping for student learning

  • Standards inventory: PIES should keep a list of all required and optional academic and nonacademic standards, offered by any source – national, state, local, and personal.

  • Personal attainments inventory: PIES should keep track of each student’s progress on all attainments.

  • Personal characteristics inventory: PIES should keep record of each student’s personal characteristics that are useful for promoting student learning, such as, learning styles, profile of multiple intelligences, special needs, major life events, career goals and interests, and so forth.

     2. Planning for student learning**

  • Career and long-term learning goals: PIES should help each student’s advisory committee collaboratively decide on long-term life goals and interests as well as career goals, which can be a powerful force in motivating the student to learn, even during early childhood.

  • Prospective attainments: PIES should list current prospective attainments – the full range of required and optional standards (defined broadly as all kinds of learning and development) that are within reach for each individual student – ones that the student can learn without first learning other standards.

  • Short-term learning goals: PIES should help the student’s advisory committee to select, from the list of current prospective attainments, those attainments that the student will work on next, based on the students’ long-term learning goals, interests, opportunities, requirements, parents’ values, and so forth.

  • Activity: PIES should help a student to select or design tasks or other activities (e.g., readings with discussions, or tutorials) to attain her or his short-term learning goals.

  • Team formation: For team tasks, PIES should identify other students who are interested in doing the same task during the same project period, and if different roles are needed, it should identify students interested in each role.

  • Supporting roles: PIES should help the student’s advisory committee to identify people to play supporting roles in helping the student learn, and should help them to define those roles.

  • Learning contracts: PIES should help the advisory committee to develop learning contracts at two different levels: the student (or advisory committee) level and the task/activity level.

     3. Instruction for student learning

  • Tasks: PIES should …

    1. introduce tasks to the student, 

    2. provide an authentic virtual environment within which to conduct the task or alternatively provide task elements that enhance real (community-based) task environments, 

    3. help students organize and manage their tasks (time and resources), 

    4. help teachers monitor the tasks,

    5. help students collaborate with peers using various documentation and communication tools, and 

    6. guide students to resolve conflicts that arise during teamwork.

  • Scaffolding: PIES should provide students with access to just-in-time (JIT) personalized coaching and instruction anytime and anywhere as they work on their tasks.

     4. Assessment for/of student learning

  • Assessing integrated performance: PIES should use tasks to present authentic tasks on which the student(s) can demonstrate integrated sets of knowledge, understanding, skills, and nonacademic attainments, and PIES should assist student reflection on the performance.

  • Assessing individual learning: PIES should assess individual learning in the individual modules through such functions as formative assessment of knowledge as it is being developed, adjusting difficulty to individual students, and assessing the same knowledge at different times in different ways.

     5. Secondary Functions

  • PIES must seamlessly and systemically integrate the four primary functions (described above) with at least three additional functions: (1) communication and collaboration, (2) PIES administration, and (3) improvement of PIES. 

     6. System Architecture

  • PIES should be designed as a cloud-based computing system where data are accessed by the users (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members) through Web browsers.


* Editors’ note:  In this chapter, there are no identified situational principles.

** Editors’ note:  Of the multiple levels – school, advisory group, and individual student – only individual student is addressed in this chapter.

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

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