Evolving Instructional Design Philosophy – Teaching, Learning & Technology

      Of the six modernist schools of thought on philosophies of teaching, learning, and technology (Kanuka, 2008), my professional philosophy most closely aligns with humanism. Key values shared by humanism and encompassed in my teaching include supporting individual growth, active cooperation and participation, and self-directed learning. This philosophy most closely aligns with the uses determinism philosophy of technology. However, my practice most closely aligns with technological determinism, as I firmly believe that technologies are a catalyst of change (Kanuka, 2008).

The adapted ID model below is based upon Carr-Chellman’s (2010) constructivist approach to ID4T with elements of Wiggins & McTighe’s (2005) Understanding by Design and the Dick and Carey Design Model (2001). Below, is a visual representation of my adapted design model, followed by a brief overview of each stage.

ID Visual AMazur copy

Overview of Stages in Amber Mazur’s Adapted Instructional Design Model

Establish Learning Goals: Learning goals are translated into student-friendly language. Through guided class discussions, goals are interpreted by students, socially negotiated, restated, and revisited throughout learning (Carr-Chellman, 2010).

Establish Learning Objectives: Students are provided with self-reflective checklists of required learning objectives, written in student-friendly language. The criteria and condition are provided. However, students are given the choice as to how they demonstrate understanding; they choose the behaviour.

Assess Prerequisites: To gain understanding of student prior knowledge, assessing prerequisites occurs through multiple sources. These methods include reviewing student files, creating Individual Progress Plans, participating in monthly academic team meetings, and reviewing entry surveys completed by students.

Design Assessments: Assessments are a mix of authentic and prescribed including both formative and summative measures. Authentic assessments align with Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) performance assessment format – GRASPS – focusing on skill development and using rubrics that require self-evaluation in active learning contexts.

  • Goal: goal, task, problems and obstacles
  • Role: role and job
  • Audience: target audience and purpose
  • Situation: context
  • Product/Performance/Purpose: create and develop
  • Standards and Criteria for Success: requirements, standards and results (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)

Create Learning Activities: Personalized learning activities are created to meet preferred learning styles. These focus on problem-solving and critical thinking, and align with the negotiated goals, objectives, and assessments (Carr-Chellman, 2010). Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) WHERETO is completed to synthesize and connect relevant information in order to successfully personalize learning.

  • Where are your students headed?
  • How will you hook students at the beginning of the unit?
  • What event will help students experience and explore the big ideas?
  • How will you cause students to reflect and rethink?
  • How will you help students exhibit and self-evaluate throughout the unit?
  • How will you tailor and personalize the learning plan?
  • How will you organize and sequence the learning activities to optimize engagement? (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)

Select Text and Media: Text and media are analyzed and evaluated jointly and are integrated regularly to support collaboration, group-work, exploration and student-centered learning. These must align with instructional goals (Carr-Chellman, 2010).

Final Revision and Reflection: WHERETO is revisited for final reflection and revision (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).

Both Planning for Implementation and Recursive Revision and Reflection and embedded throughout the instructional design process and visited at each of the stages (Dick & Carey, 2001). This is because goals are built with learner input and need to be revisited and revised frequently.

All design stages must be visited for each instructional group, as authentic assessments will require adaptation to link to learner pre-existing knowledge (Carr-Chellman, 2010). Consequently, learning will become easier, and help prepare the student for future similar learning experiences.


Carr-Chellman, A. (2010). Instructional design for teachers: Improving classroom practice. Florence, KY: Routledge.

Dick, W., Carey, L. and Dick, J (2001). The systematic design of instruction. SC: Pearson Education. ISBN: 0-321-03780-4

Kanuka, H. (2008). Understanding e-learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson (Ed.) The theory and practice of online learning (2nd Ed.) (pp. 91-120). Athabasca: Athabasca University Press. Retrieved 10 December 2012 from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120146

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd Ed). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


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