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Instructional Systems Design - ISD
Instructional Materials
Topic: 9-Instructional Materials

In individualized instruction, many of the instructional events carried out by the instructor with a group of students are now presented to the individual student through instructional materials.

The instructor's role is different, and even more important than in lockstep instruction. The instructor is still

  • the motivator
  • the counselor
  • the evaluator
  • the decision maker
  • responsible for each student's mastery of the objectives.

The delivery system and media selections: (p.238)

Three factors often cause compromise in media selections and the delivery system:

  1. availability of existing instructional materials
  2. production and implementation constraints
  3. amount of instructor facilitation during instruction

Summary by Susanne Hoepfl-Wellenhofer

When developing instructional materials consider:


1)       The three major components of an instructional package: 

  • Instructional Materials: They contain the content – either written, mediated or facilitated by an instructor (the content includes materials for the major objectives, the terminal objective, and any materials for enhancing memory and transfer).  Instructional materials refer to any preexisting materials that are being incorporated, as well as to those that will be specifically developed for the objectives. The materials may also include information that the learners will use to guide their progress through the instruction.
  • Assessments: All instructional material  should be accompanied by objective tests or by product or performance assessments. These may include a pretest and/or a posttest.
  • Course Management Information: There is often a general description of the total package, typically called the instructor’s manual, which provides the instructor with an overview of the materials. It might include the following:
    • tests and other information considered important for implementing the course.
    • student guidance templates
    • automated class listing
    • student tracking
    • online testing
    • project monitoring
    • grade book
    • a variety of communication and messaging mechanisms

      Special attention should be paid to the ease with which course management information can be used by the instructor or course manager.

2)       The evaluation criteria when selecting existing instructional materials:

a- Goal-Centered Criteria for Evaluating Materials: They are focused on the content of the instruction. Specific criteria in this area include:

  • congruence between content in materials and objectives
  • adequacy of content coverage and completeness
  • authority
  • accuracy
  • currency
  • objectivity

b- Learner-Centered Criteria for Evaluating Materials: They are focused on the appropriateness of instructional materials for the target group. The learner analysis documentation should provide the foundation for this evaluation. Specific criteria in this area include the appropriateness of the materials for the learners with regards to their:

  • vocabulary and language levels
  • developmental, motivation, and interest levels
  • backgrounds and experiences
  • special language or other needs 

c- Learning-Centered Criteria for Evaluating Materials: They are focused on the adequacy of existing materials (do they need to be adapted or enhanced prior to use?).  Materials can be evaluated to determine whether the following items are included and adequate/complete:

  1. preinstructional materials
  2. content sequencing and presentation
  3. student participation and congruent practice exercises
  4. feedback
  5. assessments
  6. follow-through directions for enhancing memory and transfer
  7. delivery system and media formats
  8. learning guidance to move students from one component/activity to the next..

d- Context-Centered Criteria for Evaluating Materials: They are focused on the appropriateness of existing materials for the instructional and performance context. Judge if existing material can be adopted; if not, you are in instructional materials development business. Criteria in this area include:

  • the authenticity of the materials for context and learners
  • the feasibility of the materials for settings and budget. Here examine the technical quality of existing materials with regards to:
    • packaging
    • graphic design and typography

    • durability

    • legibility

    • audio and video quality

    • interface design

    • navigation

    • functionality

A recent development in selecting existing instructional materials is the SCORM: Sharable Content Object Reference Model, which is a set of e-learning standards for interchangeability of learning objects (i.e. lessons or modules).

The theory of SCORM is that cost savings could be realized by distributing learning objects across agencies that teach the same learning outcomes.

The theory is promising and bears watching, but practice currently lags well behind theory. 


3)       Which types of learning components you would like to include:

·         Preinstructional activities (including objectives and review materials + motivational materials and activities)

·         Content (including examples and nonexamples of information, concepts, or skills that need to be learned)

·         Participation activities (for practice) and feedback on students' performance 

·         Assessment of learners’ mastery of new information and skills

·         Activities that enhance memory and transfer


4)       Which types of material you want to include in an instructor’s guide:

·         Information about target population

·         Suggestions on how to adapt materials (for older, younger, higher achieving, or lower achieving students)

·         Content overview

·         Intended learning outcomes

·         Suggestions for using the materials in a certain context or sequence

·         Suggestions for materials management for 

  1. individualized learning
  2. small-group learning
  3. learning-center activities
  4. classroom activities 

·         Retention and transfer activities:

  1. tests that evaluate performance on terminal objectives
  2. evidence of effectiveness of materials
  3. suggestions for evaluating students' work and reporting progress
  4. estimation of time required to use the materials properly
  5. equipment or additional facilities needed for the materials 

5)      If the designer

·         is the developer and the instructor: the whole process of materials development is rather informal.

·         is not the instructor: there might be teams – manager, ID designer, SME (Subject Matter Expert), materials developer and evaluator. Here a premium is placed on precision specifications and working it requires communication and collaboration skills. 

Great summary, Susanne!  The only thing I would add to your summary if I were going to give another designer advice for moving into the development of instructional materials is to have the performance objectives handy.  I found myself constantly refering back to them to keep focus on the conditions I had set and the specific content needed to meet the overall goal.  Also, I would tell them to make sure the materials facilitate the learning (measured by the info gathered in the learner analysis) and that they are conducive to transfer of skills to the actual workplace (or setting where the new skills will be used).   As a last thought, I would add (only because D,C&C mentioned it a few times throughout chapter nine) to remember that the drafts are just that, drafts, so as D,C,&C explain, there is no use in investing a lot of time and money on materials that will most likely be revised and updated (even after they are used in the instruction, but definitely before). 

Patricia Parada

Technical and Instructional Alignment  (By Dr. Ryan Watkins)

The focus of this lesson is on the development of "rough draft materials" for formative evaluation. It is often useful to think of these rough drafts with either "technical" or "instructional" alignment in mind. Let me explain...

If we want to create a rough draft (or prototype) to assess the technical alignment in the formative evaluation, then we want to develop a technical template that may be used throughout the instruction. For example, if we were creating web-based instruction this may be the "home page" that identifies features (e.g., discussion area, online help) that will be available to learners throughout the instruction. In the development of instruction not all of these features have to be fully functioning at the time of the formative evaluation, though at least partially functioning examples should be developed and available to learners during the formative evaluation. Similarly, in text-based instruction items such as a glossary or self-check assessment do not have to be fully developed, but they should be identified in detail within the introduction and/or instructions of the lesson and partially developed for the formative evaluation participants. During the formative evaluation you will assess the technical alignment by considering if these resources are required by learners, can learners access the necessary resources, what other resources may be required, and other related questions.

When we create a rough draft (or prototype) to assess the instructional alignment in the formative evaluation, then we want to develop a functioning module (or selection) of the instruction to be evaluated. In the formative evaluation we will assess this module to determine if it serves as an adequate template for the remainder of the lesson. The module may be related to a discrete objective or to multiple instructional objectives if a variety of instructional strategies were utilized. For web-based instruction this would include all of the educational materials as well as other instructional features available to learners (e.g., glossary of words, online resources, online help related to the module). Likewise, in text-based instruction you will want to develop a portion of your instructional materials to determine if instructional strategies, events, and activities work as desired.

In assessing both technical and instructional alignment you will want to consider issues related to visual literacy and graphic design as well.

Relevant Link:

Example of an Instructor's Package

Example of a Student Guide

Posted by Nada at 12:43 AM EDT
Updated: 05/05/09 1:15 AM EDT

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