Chapter 2. Foundations of Instructional Development 17
Foundational Principles for Instructional Development
Instructional
design as a
prescriptive
science
Instructional design is a prescriptive science. The main goal of instructional
design is to produce effective instruction by using systematic and systemic
methods. The effectiveness of instruction is measured based on whether o
r
not the expected learning outcomes have been achieved.
Instructional
design principles
Various instructional design principles can be used when developing
instruction. For example, it is important to maintain congruence among three
instructional elements:
1. Instructional objectives
2. Instructional activities
3. Assessment methods
The three elements should be carefully matched, as shown in Table 1:
Table 1. A Congruently Designed Lesson Structure
Instructional
Objectives
Instructional
Activities
Assessment
Methods
Without using reference
materials, students will be
able to list the six factors
of Thomas Gilbert’s
behavior engineering
model (BEM) in the
correct order.
Show Gilbert’s BEM in
a table.
Explain the sequence
Gilbert said should be
followed.
Provide an example
of the use of the six
factors in the correct
order to diagnose a
problem.
Show the BEM table
without the labels of the
six factors. Ask students
to write down the labels in
the correct cells and then
to number them in the
proper order.
To achieve this congruence, instructional designers should set a cornerstone
for the instructional design process, which starts with the analysis and design
of instructional goals and objectives. The instructional design procedure is
a
soft side of instructional technology (i.e., soft technology).
Development
of instructional
design principles
This chapter provides an overview of the important contributions of several
individuals to the development of foundational principles of human learning
and teaching, and discusses systematic instructional design processes. The
selected individuals are E. L. Thorndike, Ralph Tyler, B. F. Skinner, an
d
Benjamin Bloom.
18 Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology
Edward Lee Thorndike (1874–1949)
Thorndike’s
connectionism
E. L. Thorndike, with his learning theory of connectionism and empirical
research, helped create a fundamental change in the way we understan
d
human learning and instruction. Thorndike is considered one of the earl
y
educational psychologists who provided foundational principles leading to
the development of a science and technology of instruction (Saettler, 1968).
The scientific
basis of teaching
Thorndike finished his dissertation on animal intelligence and joined the
faculty of the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1899. He the
n
started focusing on the development of a science of human learning and
a
technology of instruction (Saettler, 1968, 1990). Thorndike believed that the
efficiency of any profession, even the profession of teaching, would largel
y
depend on the degree to which its practitioners used scientific methods, an
d
he advocated the use of scientific methods for testing instructional results:
The profession of teaching will improve (1) in proportion as its
members direct their daily work by the scientific spirit and
methods, that is by honest, open-minded consideration of facts,
by freedom from superstitions, fancies or unverified guesses, and
(2) in proportion as the leaders in education direct their choices of
methods by the results of scientific investigation rather than by
general opinion. (Thorndike, 1906, p. 257)
Foundational
principles of
learning and
teaching
He formulated these principles of behavioral learning and teaching:
1. The law of effect. An individual repeats responses that are followed by
a
satisfying effect, and tends not to repeat responses that are followed b
y
an annoying state of affairs. In other words, “satisfying results strengthen,
and discomfort weakens, the bond between situation and response”
(Thorndike, 1912, p. 96). The satisfying and annoying effects are
determined by the fulfillment or interference of the learner’s “wants”
(Thorndike and Gates, 1929).
2. The law of readiness. Readiness is a condition at a certain moment. One
should be ready to act in a certain way in order to take it as a satisfyin
g
effect; otherwise, having to act in that way would be considered a
n
annoying effect. Thus, the law of readiness and the law of effect are
closely related: “The greater the readiness the more potent the operatio
n
of effect” (Thorndike and Gates, 1929, p. 93).
3. The law of exercise. To sustain the reaction to a satisfying effect, i
t
needs to be repeated. Practice alone does not make perfect, but “practice
which brings satisfaction, which satisfies some real wants, is what makes
perfect” (Thorndike and Gates, 1929, pp. 93–94). Thorndike briefl
y
described this law as “other things being equal, exercise strengthens the
bond between situation and response” (Thorndike, 1912, p. 95).

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