Instructional Design: International Perspectives - Vol. 1

By Robert D. Tennyson; Franz Schott et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 16
Models of Instructional Design: Introduction and Overview

Norbert M. Seel Dresden University of Technology

Looking at the year 2000, Gustafson, Tillman, and Childs ( 1992) suggested that ". . . we shall eventually find ourselves on the path toward a theory of instructional design" (p. 456), if instructional design (ID) is able to expand its intellectual base in the not too distant future. What can we conclude from this suggestion?

First of all, we obviously have no general and comprehensive theory of ID at hand. However, do we need one? And if we need one what should it look like? Undoubtedly, most ID "theorists" agree at the point that the ultimate goal of research on instructional systems development must consist in the construction of a general theory of instructional design. However, what does it imply to operate with the concept "model" in the field of ID?

An analysis of the related literature elucidates that the term theory is used in many different and often not explicated ways. Reigeluth ( 1983) articulated instructional design theory as a "set of principles that are systematically integrated and are a means to explain and to predict instructional phenomena" (p. 21). This explication refers to a concept of descriptive theory. But most frequently a distinction is drawn between descriptive and (so-called) prescriptive theories. Instructional designers seem to be highly interested in prescriptive theories because ID is called a prescriptive science (cf. Glaser, 1976; Reigeluth, Bunderson, & Merrill, 1978; Simon, 1969; Snelbecker, 1974). However, this distinction is not usual in philosophy of science where conceptions of theories in their slightest details are discussed. Therefore, we should concentrate on descriptive theory because the previously mentioned

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