Instructional design (ID) is a field that uses systematic design to improve human performance. Practitioners use theories and models to create training. They develop courses that are efficient and effective with helping trainees to acquire a particular skill set or knowledge. Typical arenas for instructional designers include business, industry, higher education, the military, and professional fields such as accounting, engineering, law, and medicine.

Instructional design is goal-oriented, learner-centered, performance-based, and transferable.


Some of the most widely known ID theories include:

  • Behavioral Theory
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Cognitive Information Processing Theory
  • Cognitive Load Theory
  • Constructivism
  • Gagne’s Theory of Instruction
  • Objectivism
  • Schema Theory
  • Situated Learning

Design Models

Some of the most widely used ID models include:

  • 4C / ID
  • ADDIE Model
  • ARCS Model
  • Dick & Carey

Evaluation Models

Notable evaluation models include:

  • CIPP (Context Input Process Product)
  • Kirkpatrick’s Four Level Model of Training:
    1. Reaction
    2. Learning
    3. Behavior (transfer of training)
    4. Results

Blended Learning Approaches

Training programs that combine two or more of the following approaches are considered “blended”:

  • Classroom Training
  • Coaching
  • Informal Learning
  • Instructor-Led E-Learning
  • Job Aids
  • Mentoring
  • On-the-Job Training (OJT)
  • Self-Study E-Learning
  • Subject Matter Expert Training


Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill W.H. & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay.

Bloom’s taxonomy. (2009, December 4). Retrieved December 16, 2009, from’s_Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2009, from resources/best-practice-articles/goals-objectives/blooms-taxonomy

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1998). Evaluating training programs: The four levels. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Mager, R. F. (1997). Making instruction work or skillbloomers: A step-by-step guide to designing and developing instruction that works (2nd ed.). Atlanta: CEP Press.

Overbaugh, R. C., & Schultz, L. (n.d.). Bloom’s taxonomy. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from

Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (Eds.). (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Skinner, B.F. (1938). The behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Van der Meij, H., Karreman, J., & Steehouder, M. (2009, August). Three decades of research and professional practice on printed software tutorials for novices. Technical Communication, 56(3), 265-292.

Van Merriënboer, Jeroen J. G., Jelsma, Otto, & Pass, Fred G. W. C. (1992). Training for reflective expertise: A four-component instructional design model for complex cognitive skills. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(2), 23-43.

Wilson, D., & Smilanich, E. (2005). The other blended learning: A classroom-centered approach. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The original contents of this page and the attached annotated bibliography were contributed on May 10, 2010, by the graduate students of ENG 6322 Instructional Design, University of Houston-Downtown: Victoria Albert, Elizabeth Brogan, Jennifer Drake, Stacy George, Mark Riddell, Marika Stepankiw, and Rea Talbott, under the direction of Dr. Ann Jennings.