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ISD: Introduction

This guide is intended for use by NEDC instructional designers and design teams.  It includes a brief summary of concepts and principles along with some worksheets and other documents.  This guide is not a stand-alone design system and should not be used as such.  The guide should be used after a study of the book referenced below or other suitable instructional design references and with the guidance of a professional in the field.

This guide does not address training delivery,instructor qualifications nor the creative aspect of developing training materials. It simply presents a description of the process of instructional systems design.

Much of the material, including many of the worksheets and job aids in this guide, is taken directly from:

Mastering the Instructional Design Process
by William J. Rothwell & H. C. Kazanas
2nd. Edition (1998)

The Instructional Design Process "The chief aim of instructional design is to improve employee performance to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness."

Designing and Delivering On-the-Job Training

This guide is built around the job of designing formal, typically classroom training for groups of people. While the principles and concepts are the same for any type of training, the formality represented in this guide is not practical for the design and delivery of on-the-job training.

Designing and Delivering On-the-Job Training can be used as a quick reference for designing on-the-job training.  This document requires Adobe Acrobat.

Designing and Delivering On-the-Job Training

How to use this Guide

Each of the 10 steps in the instructional design process are linked on the left navigation bar.  For each step there is a brief discussion along with worksheets and job aids in PDF format. Please feel free to use and modify the worksheets as needed for your particular situation, keeping in mind the fundamental reason for the worksheet. The collection of worksheets and job aids can also found on the Worksheets and Job Aids page for your convenience.  A selected list of resources is also available for your use.

Performance Problems

The instructional design process is more than just a procedure to develop training. It is used to uncover employee performance problems or potential problems and to identify their solutions. Instructional design is a profession supported by a growing body of research in the way adults learn and how best to present learning experiences. The process is not intuitive. Its success depends on a systematic application of a number of principles.

The Steps

There are a number of instructional design models, all including essentially the following steps.

  • Conduct a needs assessment: The design of training begins with a series of assessments that provide the foundation for the development of the instruction itself. The first assessment determines if training is the appropriate solution to the identified performance problem.
  • Assess relevant characteristics of learners: This step established who the targeted learners are and how their characteristics may affect the design of instruction. As instruction is prepared these differences must be taken into account if learning is to be accomplished efficiently and effectively.
  • Analyze characteristics of a work setting: This assessment gathers information about the organization's resources, constraints and culture so that instruction will be designed in a way appropriate to the environment.
  • Perform job, task content or goal analysis: Entire jobs, specific tasks and areas of training content are analyzed when appropriate to gather additional information about what people do, how they do it and to isolate single idea or skills units for instruction.
  • Write statements of performance objectives: The development of performance objectives guides the rest of the process by describing precisely what the targeted learners should know, do or feel at the completion of a planned learning experience.
  • Develop performance measurements: Performance measurements are various means, from observation to written tests, established to monitor learner achievement and to help ensure that training is efficient and effective.
  • Sequence instruction (performance objectives): This step ensures that learners are introduced systematically to what they must know or do to perform competently.
  • Specify instructional strategies: This step establishes both the overall blueprint of how instruction will be delivered and the specific strategies for individual units of instruction.
  • Design instructional materials: This step focuses on selecting, modifying or designing instructional materials. This includes both materials that are print-based and electronically-based.
  • Evaluate instruction: Instructional design is not finished until it is apparent that targeted learners can learn what they need to know or do from the delivery methods and materials selected.

The process normally starts with a needs assessment and continues through each step. Over time the process is cyclical, in that the evaluation of instruction can uncover the need for another needs assessment.