would like to thank Dr. Peter Honebein for contributing this
tip. Dr. Honebein is an active associate,
working on several DSA e-learning projects and he regularly teaches
the DSA workshop:
Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training.
The selection of instructional methods is a favorite activity of trainers.
It is the part of training design where you fully exhibit your creativity.
After all, figuring out the most effective, efficient, and appealing
way to teach learners new skills is fun! Learners love it when you
make the right choices and it makes you feel great. However, make the
wrong choices and you may suffer the loathing of your audience. In
this article I discuss how you can enhance your success.
Instructional methods broadly categorize a variety of instructional
strategies and tactics. A method can describe how instruction is sequenced
(presentation, practice, feedback), how it is presented (expository
or discovery), or how it is delivered (instructor led or self-paced
e-learning). The focus of this article, however, is on tactics, such
as lectures, role plays, and drill and practice.
my colleague at Indiana University’s Instructional
Systems Technology department, suggests that the selection of instructional
methods is dependent on two factors – conditions and outcomes.
Conditions include everything from the learning domain associated with
the content to the number of students in a class. Outcomes, on the
other hand, involve efficiency (delivering the greatest number of skills
for the lowest cost), effectiveness (learners acquiring desired skills),
and appeal (learners having fun in the course).
I recently conducted a pilot study that asked ten training professionals
who are enrolled in a Masters-level instructional strategies course
their opinions about the most useful instructional methods. The group
evaluated 31 instructional methods in relation to learning domains,
number of students, and desired outcomes. Each interaction was rated
on a five-point scale, where 1 equals not useful and 5 equals very
useful. We collected a total of 837 individual measures, which we then
aggregated so that each instructional method was represented by a single
score. The results show the top 16 most useful instructional methods
The group found the results consistent with their beliefs and practice.
A high score means that the instructional method is perceived as being
more useful under more conditions than one with a low score. As we
examined and discussed the results further, we agreed on two key things.
First, the methods that floated to the top of the list represent what
we would prefer to use if the conditions are right. Other conditions
that we did not investigate, such as budget, development time, and
so on, would further shape (and possibly limit) our ultimate choice.
Second, the key condition that trainers consider first is the learning
domain of the content. This involves classifying content as being cognitive,
affective, psychomotor, or interpersonal, and then deriving the best
instructional strategy based on that content.
Do you agree? Examine
the data for yourself. Below are links to the summary statistics
the pilot study. Take a look and see whether
or not you agree with the results. Compare our results with your own
opinions and practice. I’ve also provided links to additional
resources that should help expand your understanding of instructional
conditions and methods.
Until next time,
P.S. Dr. Peter C. Honebein is a DSA Associate and principal of Honebein Associates, Inc. He is the author Creating Do-It-Yourself Customers (Thomson Texere) and Strategies for Effective Customer Education (McGraw-Hill). He also holds academic appointments as adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Business, and the Indiana University School of Education.
Article © 2006
Honebein Associates, Inc