Learning Theories and the Design Process

The readings in unit 3 really intrigued me. Specifically, the article by Ertmer and Newby prompted me to recall the foundation of my introduction to instructional design and how revisiting theoretical approaches could help to underpin my design intentions moving forward. In particular, Ertmer and Newby’s concise explanation of each approach (behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism) and examples of a situational application is nicely summarized here.
…a behavioral approach can effectively facilitate mastery of the content of a profession (knowing what); cognitive strategies are useful in teaching problem-solving tactics where defined facts and rules are applied in unfamiliar situations (knowing how); and constructivist strategies are especially suited to dealing with ill-defined problems through reflection-in-action. (2013, p. 60)

The Moore article, about the Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact (TAPPA) process further expanded on my experience of the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation (ADDIE) model that I’ve used over the years. Despite its limitations, the ADDIE model has enabled me to maintain a sense of consistency and structure in my instructional design approach. I’ve always used it in a non-prescriptive, and non-linear fashion. Instead, I’ve concentrated on the importance of the analysis and evaluation phases to anchor my approach while incorporating the design, development and implementation phases as moving pieces of the overall puzzle. The TAPPA process also maintains a structured approach, but in a more modernistic, fluid,  and iterative manner. As Moore (2016) states, “The TAPPA Process is adaptive and responsive and provides the basic structure a novice instructional design practitioner or instructor needs and the complexity and flexibility an experienced practitioner seeks” (p. 431).

So, I’m curious if either of these articles resonated with any of you? Or if you had other ideas that you wanted to share and explore in this blog post? I would love to hear them!

Ertmer, P. A. & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71. doi:10.1002/piq.21143

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA process.
TechTrends, 60(5), 425-432. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/article/10.1007/s11528-016-0094-8

4 Replies to “Learning Theories and the Design Process”

  1. Hi Sue, your blog post prompted me to think about all the design processes I’ve heard about recently.

    Each time I read about a new design process, I’m amazed by how many different ways there are to approach the same idea. Stanford’s d.school uses “Empathize, Design, Ideate, Prototype, Test” (Stanford University, n.d.). Taking Making Into Classrooms uses “Design, Tinker, Thinker, Reflect” (Crichton & Carter, 2017, p. 22). Moore (2016) uses “Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact (TAPPA)” (p. 425). Spencer and Juliani (2016) use “Look, Ask, Understand, Navigate, Create, Highlight” in their LAUNCH cycle. What each of these have in common is a phase of thinking and asking questions before diving in to creating something, and a phase of thinking and reflecting after the fact. They each may add distinct elements to the process, but the goal is the same: think before you act, and think after you act. It matters less which design process a person uses, and more that they’re using one in the first place. You’ve mentioned that Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation (ADDIE) has been a source of “consistency and structure in [your] instructional design,” “despite its limitations” (Reid, 2020, para. 2). This is a great example of the power of using a design process, and in particular the ability to apply it in a non-linear fashion. It’s more important to “anchor [your] approach” (Reid, 2020, para. 2) than to worry about which design process to use, whether it’s new or old, or what each step is called. Design processes will come and go, but the value of using them remains constant.

    Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2017). Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit. Retrieved from https://mytrainingbc.ca/maker/en/toolkit/Taking_Making_into_Classrooms.pdf
    Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing Distance Education Content Using the TAPPA Process. TechTrends, 60(5), 425–432. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0094-8
    Reid, S. (2020, January 16). Learning Theories and the Design Process [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0129/learning-theories-and-the-design-process/
    Spencer, J. & Juliani, A. J. (2016). Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.
    Stanford University. (n.d.). d.school Design Thinking Process [Website]. https://dschool.stanford.edu

  2. Excellent points Sandra! I would agree that it’s less about the method and more about the end result. And thank you for a concise summary of the learning processes from our class readings. Handy to have 🙂

  3. Hi Sue,
    Thank you for your post and for sharing your thoughts on the options for the design processes and models that we’ve been exposed to thus far. Although I agree that a process can be flexible if you want it to be, I do find that ADDIE is restrictive and limited in terms of its ability to meet the fast-paced demands of the 21st-century learning. The empathic design proposed by Mattelmaki, Vaajakallio, & Koskinen (2014) and the TAPPA model by Moore (2016), resonated with me because they allow a more efficient collaboration between the designer and the stakeholders to work towards a learner-centred approach design. Furthermore, it allows the designer to use previous lessons learned (TAPPA model) to enhance the learning design, hence, complementing previous knowledge.

    Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What happened to empathic design?. Design Issues, 30(1), 67-77.

    Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing Distance Education Content Using the TAPPA Process. TechTrends, 60(5), 425–432. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0094-8

    1. Totally agree Sharon! With one caveat. I believe there is opportunity to suggest that a more structured approach, with an alternate timelines, will result in a better result. As the experts in the field of learning and development it’s important for us to educate others about what it is that we do to help them make informed decisions. Of course, there are many instances where the best approach may not be possible. And that’s perfectly okay, as long as business owners understand the options, and the risks, of super fast turnaround times when it comes to development and the final outcomes and results. I think it’s important to help them understand that and the ADDIE model is an easy way to explain it, even if we as instructional designers utilize it in our own, creative way. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone 😉

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