Instructional Design Task Analysis 1 Running head: INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN TASK ANALYSIS

Instructional Design Task Analysis Jennifer Maddrell Old Dominion University IDT 810 Trends and Issues in Contemporary Instructional Design Dr. Gary Morrison February 18, 2009

Instructional Design Task Analysis 2 Instructional Design Task Analysis This paper offers a comparison of various conceptions of the instructional design task since Davies (1978) described the three prevalent educational technology archetypes, including (a) audio-visual, (b) engineering, and (c) problem-solving. While steering clear of an analysis of the paradigm wars (Merrill, Drake, Lacy, & Pratt, 1996;Willis, 1998) that festered in the 1990s, it is suggested that differences in how the instructional job task is analyzed and conceived impact how instructional designers should be trained. As highlighted below, early theorists in our field describe the instructional design task as would result following a procedural job analysis. The focus of such a job analysis is on the observable behaviors and procedures required to complete the given job (Jonassen, Tessmer, & Hannum, 1999). As such, early conceptions of the instructional design task focus on the prescriptive rules and procedural steps required to complete the designer's task. In contrast, more recent conceptions are similar to what would results following a cognitive task analysis. Such an analysis tends to focus on the less obvious mental skills required for task proficiency (Militello & Hutton 1998). As such, more recent conceptions of the instructional designer's job focus on the impact of situational factors, including where the task is performed, identification of central decision making cues, and assessments of critical mental demands. These later descriptions of the instructional design task tend to place far greater importance on the cognitive processes an expert designer completes, such as those used in advanced problem solving and decision making. By considering the various conceptions of the instructional design task by those within the field, it is possible to assess the implications for instructional design training. Based on the task conceptions described below, should instruction design programs focus on teaching media design and development? Empirically-based instructional design models? Practice-based heuristics? Problem solving and decision making skills? Project management? All of the above? Given the various conceptions of the instructional designer's task, what should be our focus as we train new designer's on the tasks which are most relevant to the instructional design job? Conceptions of the Instructional Design Task Instructional Design as Instructional Media Development The Audio-Visual Archetype predates any of the conceptions of the instructional design task that follow below and has its roots in instructional media hardware design and development (Davies, 1978). While the design of instructional media may be one of the earliest conceptions of the instructional design task, a media-centric view is alive and well today with the advent and accessibility of computer-based and web-based training (Gibbons, 2003). Instructional Design as the Application of Expert Systems and Rule-based Models The instructional design task is frequently analyzed based on the observable and replicable steps in the instructional design and development process. This conception is described as an Engineering Archetype influenced by Skinner's application of a behavioristic step-by-step approach to the design and development of programmed instruction (Davies, 1978). Heinich (1973) describes instructional product design as “the development of reliable, replicable

Instructional Design Task Analysis 3 instruments of instruction based on learner analysis, task analysis, and environment design and evaluation.” Some who hold this conception have argued that instruction is a scientific discipline and instructional design is a technology which incorporates known and verified instructional strategies (Merrill et al., 1996). Others forward a conditions-goals-methods instructional design framework which suggests designers follow functional prescriptions toward attainment of the instructional goal (Reigeluth, 1983). Inherent in this framework is the assumption of a prescriptive knowledge base that can be “codified, owned, controlled, and communicated unambiguously to others” (Wilson, 1997, p. 301). Instructional Design as a Problem Solving Process and Decision Making Activity Instructional design conceived of as a Problem-Solving Archetype began in the early 1970s and is characterized by both the cognitive activity required of the designer and the application of the designer's acquired skills and experience (Davies, 1978). Unlike a process of rule using and procedure following as described above, instructional design as a decision making activity is conceived of as cognitive problem solving process (Jonassen, 2008). In contrast to a conception of instructional design as the application of unambiguous and objectivist prescriptions, instructional design as a decision making process focuses on the identification and accommodation of given constraints; instructional design practice heuristics offer guidance, but not prescriptions for decision making (Silber, 2007; Zemke & Rosset, 2002). Some who share this viewpoint see instructional design as a process of collective decision making involving a community of interested participants which include not only the designer, but also experts in other areas and the stakeholders who work together to on the instructions design (Willis, 1998). While some outright condemn this collective negotiation of the instructional design process (Merril et. al., 1996), others suggest the change in conception as an evolution in the application of traditional instructional design models which places additional and expanded emphasis on the analysis of the instructional context and on iterative design decision making (Dick, 1996). Instructional Design as a Project Development Process The instructional design task is sometimes generically described in terms of phases in the instructional project development process, including analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, often referred to under the acronym ADDIE (Molenda, n.d). Such a focus on the major phases in the instructional project development process has prompted some to suggest that the instructional designer's task is as much about project planning and management as it is a process to build instruction (Zemke & Rossett, 2002). This view is partially supported by findings which suggest instructional project success is linked to a range of factors related to the project's planning and management, including access and management of tangible resources (funding, development tools, and delivery equipment) and implementation support (trainer support and examination procedures) (Klimcak and Wedman, 1997). Hybrid Viewpoint. Still others take a hybrid viewpoint and suggest that the instructional design task should

Instructional Design Task Analysis 4 be viewed as both a time tested tradition and a knowledge base, with a designer's toolkit including all of the previously mentioned facts, concepts, skills, and strategies (Rowland, 2004). Within this hybrid viewpoint, the designer relies on a blend of specialized design skills, design heuristics, models, and practical considerations when facing multi-layered design decisions, each with its unique sets of goals, principles, tools, and processes (Gibbons, 2003). Implications for Teaching Instructional Design The range of conceptions of the instructional designer's task suggest a lack of clarity with regard to how the instructional design task should be taught. If there is a lack of agreement on what the tasks are, how can there be agreement with regarding to instructional designer training? As should be considered following any task analysis, the field must come to terms with which tasks are most relevant. What should be the training priority? Based on the noted task conceptions, should instruction design programs focus on the application of rule-based instructional design models? Media design and development? Time tested best practices? Problem solving and decision making skills? Project development and management skills? All of the above? One way to answer these questions is to evaluate how effectively existing instructional design and technology programs are preparing their graduates to handle the tasks they are required to perform on the job. Such an evaluation was the focus of a recent survey of the Instructional Design and Development, Training and Performance, and Distance Learning division members of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (Larson, 2005). The good news is all respondents felt either “somewhat” to “fully prepared” by their instructional design and technology programs for general instructional design practice. However, the eight issues the respondents felt unprepared to handle included a range of topics which are most likely not a significant part of most instructional design and technology programs, including (a) freedom to challenge decisions of supervisors, (b) the nature of internal politics, (c) the availability of project resources for work assignments, (d) directive versus participative management styles, (e) workload, (f) trade-offs between quality, timeliness, and cost in work assignments, and (g) the amount of freedom given to make decisions. These findings from a small sample of instructional designers may offer support to those who suggest too great a focus on learning rule-based steps in the instructional design process at the expense of learning how to tackle constraint filled and complex instructional design problems (Silber, 2007). The findings also beg an important follow up question. If an instructional designer fails at implementation of an instructional design task, is it an inherent fault within the learned instructional design model and strategies or is it a deficiency in the designer's ability to implement? Some suggest that unsuccessful instructional design projects are less an inherent fault of instructional design models and strategies than a lack of implementation expertise (McCombs, 1986). If this is true, then the case could be made that a designer's training must include skill development in the application of the models and heuristics, including the development of higher-order analysis and problem-solving skills associated with instructional design plan implementation (McCombs).

Instructional Design Task Analysis 5 In addition, if the survey results are representative of the larger instructional design community, then a gap is suggested between what is learned in the classroom and what is required in on the job. This supports those who argue that there is a required level of instructional design expertise that rule-based systems are incapable of fully capturing (Wilson, 1997). Such a position suggests a closer focus on novice to expert development which extends beyond a solid understanding of instructional models, heuristics, and strategies to the development of additional skills and knowledge which allow the designer to recognize pitfalls and take corrective action when faced with unanticipated obstacles and constraints (Shambaugh & Magliaro, 2001). Sharing this viewpoint, Rowland (2004) suggests a broad set of designerly core competencies, including skills such as judgment to solve ill-defined problems, creativity in using formal techniques, composition of novel rather than general prescriptions, and mindful reflection in action rather than a mechanical execution of tasks. Similarly, others argue that if instructional designers are skillful, they are able to balance many knowledge and information sources, including the needs and characteristics of clients (Schifffman, 1995). Underlying this argument is the assumption that the number of instructional design solutions is inexhaustible and the instructional designer cannot rely on knowledge of optimal procedures, but rather on his or her problem solving skills to satisfy the given instructional situation as dictated by the inherent constraints and opportunities of the instructional project (Silber, 2007; Jonassen, 2008). As such, the designer must learn the skill of satisficing (doing the best job possible given the constraints of the situation) versus relying on the application of optimal rule-based solutions (Jonassen). Conclusion The field has forwarded multiple conceptions of the instructional designer's task which impact not only how the field is defined, but more importantly how designers are trained to execute their jobs. While training based on observable behaviors and optimal procedures will provide a framework for the task to be accomplished, more recent conceptions of the job suggest additional skills and competencies are required to effectively perform the instructional designer's tasks and to implement instructional projects. Preliminary surveys of the field appear to support viewpoint.

Instructional Design Task Analysis 6 References Davies, I.K. (1978) Educational technology: Archetypes, paradigms and models. In J.A. Hartley & I.K. Davies (Eds.) Contributions to educational technology, vol. 2 (9-29). London: Kogan Page. Dick, W. (1996). The Dick and Carey model: Will it survive the decade? Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(3), 55-63. doi: 10.1007/BF02300425. Gibbons, A. (2003). What and how do designers design? TechTrends, 47(5), 22-25. doi: 10.1007/BF02763201. Heinich, R. (1973). Is there a field of educational communications and technology? Audiovisual Instruction. 18:5, 44-46. Jonassen, D. H. (2008). Instructional Design as Design Problem Solving: An Iterative Process. Educational Technology Magazine: The Magazine for Managers of Change in Education, 48(3), 21-26. Jonassen, D. H., Tessmer, M., & Hannum, W. H. (1999). Task analysis methods for instructional design. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. Klimczak, A., & Wedman, J. (1997). Instructional design project success factors: An empirical basis. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(2), 75-83. doi: 10.1007/BF02299525. Larson, M. (2005). Instructional design career environments: Survey of the alignment of preparation and practice. TechTrends, 49(6), 22-32. doi: 10.1007/BF02763727. McCombs, Barbara. (1986) “The ISD Model: Review of those Factors Critical to Its Successful Implementation” ECTJ 34:2, Summer, 67-81 Merrill, M. D., Drake, L., Lacy, M., & Pratt, J. (1996). Reclaiming Instructional Design. Educational Technology, 36(5), 5-7. Militello, L. G. and Hutton, R. J. B. (1998). Applied cognitive task analysis (ACTA): a practitioner’s toolkit for understanding cognitive task demands. Ergonomics, 41 (11), 1618 – 1641. Molenda, M. (n.d.). In Search of the Elusive ADDIE Model. Retrieved from Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed.). (1983). Instructional Design: What is it and why is it? In Instructionaldesign Theories and Models, 3-31. Rowland, G. (2004). Shall we dance? A design epistemology for organizational learning and performance. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(1), 33-48. Schiffman, S.S. (1995). Instructional Systems Design: five views of the field. In G.J. Anglin (Ed.), Instructional Technology: Past, Present, and Future 2nd ed. (pp. 131-142). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. Shambaugh, N., & Magliaro, S. (2001). A reflexive model for teaching instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(2), 69-92.

Instructional Design Task Analysis 7 Silber, K. H. (2007). A Principle-Based Model of Instructional Design: A New Way of Thinking about and Teaching ID. Educational Technology Magazine: The Magazine for Managers of Change in Education, 47(5), 5-19. Willis, J. (1998). Alternative instructional design paradigms: What’s worth discussing and what isn’t. Educational Technology. 38:3, 5-16 Wilson, B. G. (1997). The postmodernist paradigm. In C.R. Dills & A.J. Romiszowski (Eds) Instructional Development Paradigms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, pp. 297-310. Zemke, R. and Rossett, A. (2002). A hard look at ISD. Training. February, 27-35.

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