The two instructional design models (ID) chosen for this critique are: the Dick and Carey and the Kemp models. According to Göksu, Özcan, Çakir, and Göktas (2017) these are two popular instructional design models, and are suitable for digital learning environments. Prior to exploring design models Ertmer and Newby (2013) suggest that it is important to consider the situation of the instructor, the type of learners experiencing instruction, and the learning problems that may be revealed when implementing an ID model. Furthermore, those authors proposed that a more robust relationship “between instructional design issues and the theories of human learning” is needed in the field of ID (p. 44). Quereshi (2004) agreed stating that “effective instructional models are based on learning theories” (para, 3). Obizoba (2015) adds the importance of  “sound educational and instructional design principles, theory, and research” (p.40). Morris (2017) calls for a resistance to behaviourism in instructional design and the search for methodologies that work to support agency in online learning.

The development of the Dick and Carey model, Figure 1. was a collaboration between Walter Dick and Lou and James Carey; it was first developed in 1978 with editions following (Burgess, 2013, Dousay, 2017). The Dick & Carey ID model was first known as “The Systems Approach Model” (Burgess, 2013) and was influenced by the work of Robert Gagne known for his nine events for learning which emphasized “behaviourist and cognitive information processing learning theories.” (Stollings, 2007, para. 1). The Dick & Carey model is based on the systematic ADDIE pattern; designing is done in a linear fashion in phases starting with establishment of goals and ending with summative evaluation (Quereshi, 2004; Akbulut, 2007). Akbulut (2007) suggested that the model is too bulky and inflexible for practical application, but Quereshi (2004) notes that later versions of the model account for the impact of new technologies and a greater focus on learning contexts (para. 4).

Figure 1.

The Dick and Carey model of Instructional Design

Dick and Carey Instructional Model. Reprinted from

I recognize the Dick and Carey model as similar to the design that underpinned learning during my teaching certification, and also evident in self-paced and instructor-led programs that I taught (until recently) in Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses at Coast Mountain College. In my experience the linear approach and the emphasis on behaviourism evident in this model has been less than satisfactory. However, it is fair to say that self-paced learning environments contain a host of problems that are not necessarily linked to a specific ID model. Student participation, engagement, and success increased when I switched to more active holistic Team-based learning (TBL) which aligns more with the tenets of Critical ID being developed by Morris (2017). Nevertheless, a main strength of the Dick and Carey model is its efficiency and suitability for content heavy courses such as nursing (Obizoba, 2015). Additionally, Göksu et al. (2017) points out that the model improves student motivation. The design is ordered and systematic, ensuring standardization of instruction. A perceived weakness however is the rigidity of the model that counters efforts for exploration and student agency illustrated by Morris (2017) and that learner diversity is not considered in the model. Herbert (2017) states that “the designer identifies what it is he/she would like the learner to know based on a needs assessment or another valid source” (p. 4) an example of an instructor focused approach.

The Kemp ID model was developed by Morrison, Ross, and Kemp in 1981 (Dousay, 2017). The theoretical basis is similar to the Dick and Carey ID model with its roots in behaviourist and cognitivist theories of learning (Papadakis, 2014). The approach, however, is holistic in visualizing an ID problem. In this model “the learner, not the content, is considered most important when developing instruction” (Herbert, 2017, p. 5). According to Quereshi (2004) the Kemp model addresses key components of the learning environment “subject analysis, learner characteristics, learning objectives, teaching activities, resources, support services and evaluation” (para. 9). The interdependence of these elements is illustrated in the oval diagram in Figure 2. There is no prescribed sequence; that feature is helpful to the designer who can choose what stages will be most useful and in what order they will be implemented; not all stages are even necessary depending on the instruction being designed (Kurt, 2016; Papadakis, 2014).

When I introduced TBL after discovering the work of Sibley and Ostafichuk (2014) to Adult Basic Education students, I implemented (unknowingly at the time) an ID process compatible with many of the elements of the Kemp ID model. This process included affective instructional objectives situating the students at the centre of the design process (Obizoba, 2014, p. 44). There was also opportunity to use backward design rather than starting with pre-assessment, goals, and objectives, making it a more flexible model than the Dick and Carey ID model which self-paced learning methodologies prevalent in many ABE courses seem to be based on. The flexible staging of the Kemp ID model is compatible with TBL. Additionally, Göksu et al. (2017) notes that the Kemp ID model improves learning rates in students, as well as motivation, and Obizoba (2017) notes the inclusion of diverse learners in the nine interrelated elements. A weakness according to Herbert (2017) is a lack of information regarding instructional analysis. This analysis would include procedures that lead to steps in achieving a goal Potter (n.d.).

Figure 2.

The Kemp Instructional Design Model



Kemp Instructional Design Model. Reprinted from

According to Quereshi (2004) “an instructional design model gives structure and meaning to an ID problem, enabling would-be designers to negotiate their design task with a semblance of conscious understanding” (para. 1). The Kemp model with its non-linear, holistic design is more suitable for my teaching context than the Dick and Carey model. It is flexible and compatible with TBL methodology– a non-traditional, non-linear course delivery approach. Furthermore, the aspects of the Kemp model, particularly inclusion of flexible content sequencing fits with thematic treatment of topics within coursework. There are other ID models based on constructivist-Interpretivist theories that I stumbled upon while writing this paper; they are of great interest to me as they link to many of the challenges of building ID models based on learning theories that started with this exploration of the Dick and Carey and Kemp ID models.


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Dousay. T. A. (2017). Chapter 22. Instructional Design Models. In R. West (Ed.). Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology (1st ed.).

Ertmer, P., Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspectivePerformance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

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