Intro to Instructional Design

by megantaylor05

Instructional design is the process of creating “instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing” (Merrill, Drake, Lacy, & Pratt, 1966, p. 2). Dr. David Merrill states that ideas and beliefs within the field of education change each time there is a new push within the field philosophy. Therefore, instructional design tends to be faced with “unscientific theories…, speculation, and philosophical extremism” because “people are anxious” for an answer. Instructional designers declare, however, that instructional design is rooted in science and should be subject to philosophical flurries. 

In the video “Merrill on Instructional Design”, Dr. Merrill presents some interesting issues concerning technology, online education, and instructional design, which are important points to remember when developing and choosing instruction for students. With the Internet and technology it is becoming easier and easier to develop web-based course and instructional technology tools. However, as this is becoming easier, the effectiveness of these design id decreasing at a steady rate as well. He states that many educational websites, as well as supposed courses, that are utilized and encouraged are simply “information dumps.” They do not follow the principles and consequently are ineffective. 

Dr. Merrill describes three principles of good instructional design: 

1. Demonstrate what students will learn. What is the goal/outcome/purpose? Instruction should begin with presenting what the student will be able to do. We should not “tell, tell, tell”, but show. 

2. Students need to practice what they learn. This can be done by getting students involved in the information. This helps students build knowledge and apply it to their own lives, other areas of education, and the real world. 

3. Real motivation is key. Games and animation are not motivating factors; they are simply “attention getters.” What is motivating, though, is when students know they learned something, and when they realize that they can do something that they couldn’t before. 

These principles are crucially important for high school students, because, honestly, many of them do not want to be there. School is a requirement and many do not yet realize the value of learning and education. Therefore, as a teacher it is necessary to develop instruction that is engaging, effective, and increases students’ successful learning. 

As a teacher, understanding the principles of instructional design can help me to develop my own individual and specific plan for my class. WIth a good instructional design I will be able to better meet the needs of all my students and each student. Even though in my current job I will not be designing a course (i.e. web-based for university level students), I feel that the elementary and secondary teacher does this in some degree all the time. Of course we have a state curriculum that we have to incorporate into our instruction and state testing standards we must meet; but other than that we have the freedom (to a point) to teach how we see best fit. 

Being able to utilize this knowledge and scientifically develop (i.e.) a semester’s worth of lessons and instruction based on the principles of instructional design is a useful skill that will supplement my teaching experience and knowledge and enhance the learning I am to facilitate and support for my students. 

Merrill, M.D., Drake, L., Lacy, M.J., & Pratt, J. (1996). Reclaiming instructional design. Educational Technology, 36(5), p. 5-7. Retrieved from

Merrill, M.D. (2008, August 11). Merrill on instructional design. Retrieved from