Week 8 – Designing instructional strategies

“Designing the instruction: Strategies” expands on an earlier chapter, “Instructional objectives,” in which all learning is categorized as reflecting the cognitive, affective, or psychomotor domains, or a mixture thereof. Educators have categorized these domains with taxonomies. Taxonomies delineate progressively more challenging levels with the top one considered to be an exemplification of stellar performance within that domain. Objectives are being revisited here because this chapter deals with how to reach established objectives for a body of knowledge.

Also re-introduced in this chapter is David Merrill’s matrix based on his Component Display Theory (CDT). “Although Merrill’s performance-content matrix is not hierarchical like Bloom’s taxonomy, it does provide a means of determining which type of instructional strategy to use to master the objective” (Morrison, p. 121). Since Merrill’s matrix neglects the domains, here is a brief recap.

In Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, the sumum bonum is the ability to form one’s own opinions about the content after analyzing and synthesizing it. Using Heinich, Molenda, and Russell’s taxonomy of the psychomotor, what begins as imitation and simple performance end up represented by fluidity of efficient motion. Finally, for Krathwohl, Bloom, and Massia’s portrayal of the affective domain, a learner moves from being a passive observer to incorporating the content into his/her value system. It is often the case that learners are operating within more than one domain at a time (Morrison, Ross, Kemp, & Kalman, 2007, pp. 104-108).

With these taxonomies (seen in Chapter 5) and attention to learner needs (seen in Chapter 6), the instructional designer, with the help of the SME, is ready to develop the instructional plan. First up is to consider the learning environment. The crux of this chapter, though, looks at the instructional strategies, the second part. It is the bridge which will be constructed to take the learner over the gap between the new content and his/her prior knowledge. With a constructivist frame in mind, this bridge-building done by the learner, with assistance from the educator. Four categories devised by Jonassen (1985) to generate this type of behavior on the part of the learner (Morrison, p. 147-148) are:

  1. recall strategies,
  2. integration through paraphrasing and question generation,
  3. organization using outlines, categories, etc., and
  4. elaboration of the content through embellishment, etc.

Using the expanded performance-content matrix, the table below shows how Jonassen’s generative strategies can be applied to the content:



Content Recall Application
Fact Using a picture or object, learner practices through recopying;developing mnemonics; questioning  
Concept (Same as for a fact) Describe similarities and differencesDraw a concept map

Generate examples and nonexamples

Principlesand rules Stating the ruleShowing examples

Generating the rule from examples

Explanation of the effect of the ruleIdentification of key components

Comparing the principle to others

Diagraming the principle

Procedure List the stepsDemonstrate the steps Paraphrase the procedureApply the procedure

Using worked example to compare

InterpersonalSkills Direct instructionPractice using strategies for mental rehearsal (a.k.a. as covert practice)

Practicing by doing live demonstrations

Identifying steps of the behaviorParaphrasing the model

Drawing a cognitive map or image

Reacting to videotapes, possible scenarios, and/or case studies; role playing; extrapolating using simulations

Attitude (Same as for Interpersonal Skills) Role playing with a partnerDemonstrating appropriate behaviors


Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kemp, J. E., & Kalman, H. K. (2007). Designing effective instruction. (5th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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