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Instructional Design Principles and Evaluation

Week 5 Final

Eric Fonseca

Evaluation of E-Learning EDU 336

Instructor Strickland-Davis

July 24th, 2017


Instructional Design Principles and Evaluation

Learning takes place throughout the life of all individuals. Though learning does take

place outside of an instructional setting, the purpose of designing instructional material is to

facilitate the learning of individuals in an accelerated fashion by focusing on a particular

concept. Some principles can be incorporated into an instructional design that adds to the

effectiveness of the material, allowing learners to gain information and transfer the skills outside

of the educational setting. In this paper, design principles will be defined and evaluated for their

effectiveness in the instructional setting. Secondly, an instructional video will be evaluated to

demonstrate the lack of design principles and how the material could have been created to

increase the value of the instruction to a learner. Defining and evaluating design principles

allows a designer to create materials that are most efficient and reduce cognitive load. Effective

design enhances the transfer of skill to real world application of the concepts being presented.

Instructional Design Principles

Many principles should be considered and utilized when designing instruction. These

principles ensure that the learners cognitive load is reduced and that information is presented in

a way that can be easily processed into memory and used in real world situations. Additionally,

principles ensure that materials are designed that lead to the learning outcomes desired and

minimize sensory overload which may lead to learners missing key components of concepts. By

providing objectives and activities result in learning outcomes and removing extraneous

information individuals will retain useful information and transfer those skills outside of the

educational environment which is the goal of instruction. Several principles are important to

design, and by defining and evaluating them, an instructional designer will be aware of how they

can be included to enhance the learning outcomes.


Alignment Between Activities and Outcomes

The first Principle that must be addressed is the alignment of the objectives and activities

to the learning outcomes of the course. Alignment is critical because it allows a reliable way of

determining if individuals are meeting the learning outcomes. Alignment between activities and

outcomes means that activities that are included in the course must be created to lead to what you

expect the learner to be able to do, once the course has been completed. For example, if a course

were designed to have the student learn to ride a bike, an activity that has learners design a

model of a bicycle would not lead to the learning outcome. Having students create a model may

teach them about different components of a bike, but it does not lend to them learning how to

ride one. Lam and Tsui (2013) state Aligning the curriculum objectives with what is

implemented and learned can enhance the effectiveness of curriculum planning and

implementation and adds meaning to the learning and teaching processes (p. 99). This quote

indicates that a lack of alignment makes the activity insignificant to the learning outcomes. Lack

of alignment may also hinder the teaching process of the instructor.

Multimedia Principle

The multimedia principle states that individuals learn better when they are presented with

graphics rather than just text. Clark and Mayer (2011) identify that graphics can include items

like pictures, graphs, charts, animation, or video as examples. These items provide visual inputs

to the learner that expand on the material that is being presented. One main thing to consider

when including graphics into learning material is that not all graphics are equal, in adding

substance to learning. Designers will often add graphics to instructional documents only to

decorate their materials. Adding decorative graphics do not add to the concepts that are being

taught and should be avoided. Graphics should increase the value by illustrating an important

object, organizing information, showing changes over time, or making concepts concrete that

could not be viewed without the visual aid (Clark and Mayer, 2011). There are many factors that

a designer should consider when deciding what type of graphics will benefit the learner most in

reaching outcomes. Some may think that items like animation are always the best when it comes

to achieving learning outcomes. In a study, Daly, Bulloch, Ma, and Aidulis (2016) found that

animation per se will not necessarily enhance learning as this is dependent on a broad range

of factors involving instructional design, cognitive loading, and learner knowledge (p. 204).

This statement shows that designers should consider these factors before deciding what graphics

to incorporate.

Contiguity Principle

The Contiguity Principle provides guidelines for designers when implementing text and

graphics to improve the learning grasp of concepts and reduce cognitive load. One way that this

may be achieved is by ensuring that text is placed near the graphic that corresponds with the

information being provided. If the text is separated for the graphic, the learner must split their

visual attention between the text and graphic which causes an overload of the visual input.

Another aspect of the contiguity principle is to ensure that narration is synchronized to visuals

such as animation and video. Clark and Mayer (2011) identify When corresponding narration

and graphics are presented at different times in e-lessons, the learner has to hold the words in

working memory until the corresponding graphics are presented, or vice versa (sec. 5.5). This

quote shows that an individuals working memory is hindered when trying to maintain attention

to both the narration and graphic. By integrating these principles, the learners sensory inputs are

more available to store the information provided and gain a deeper understanding of the subject

matter. Another method that may be employed is the use of narration rather than text.

Modality Principle

The Modality Principle identifies that there is considerable evidence that presenting

words in audio rather than on-screen text can result in significant learning gains (Clark &

Mayer, 2011, sec. 6). Overloading the visual channel in e-learning may occur when text and

graphics are shown at the same time. Utilizing the auditory and visual channels rather than only

one can reduce the cognitive load of the learner. This is confirmed by Oliveira Neto, Huang, and

Azevedo Melli, (2015) who state, If student attention is directed at the screen text, then they

might not be able to direct the same attention toward the graphics or animation, especially when

the text and graphics are rapidly and simultaneously displayed on screen (p. 559). Spoken words

rather than on screen text provide a split in sensory input and by dividing the information the

learner can better process the information for retainment into short and long-term memory.

Redundancy Principle

The simultaneous broadcast of video, narration, and text will overload the visual and

auditory channels causing the individual to potentially miss vital information that is being

presented. The simultaneous presentation of information is known as the Redundancy Principle.

This principle is especially important when there is text, audio, and video/animations as the

learner may spend their time following the text while the audio is being played rather than

maintaining attention to the important visuals provided through the graphic. One of the ways to

eliminate the redundant information is to remove all text or only to include keywords or relevant

data as text. Reducing redundancy will limit the participant from trying to follow the written

words along with the provided narrative which increases the cognitive load that the learner

experiences. Though this principle holds true in most situations, it may be helpful to give the

text for the major words or complex items that are redundant to the audio. Also, embedding

redundant keywords into visuals may help the student identify important connections between

the text and visual display (McCrudden, Hushman, & Marley, 2014).

Coherence Principle

The Coherence Principle states that a designer should avoid including information that

does not lead to the learning outcomes or supports the goal of instruction (Clark & Mayer, 2011).

Adding text or information that is not relevant to the learning outcomes can distract the learner

from the primary purpose of taking the course. One of the ways that the Coherence Principle can

be implemented is by not including extraneous words that are not essential to the lesson. Some

designers may think that by adding information that is entertaining and engaging, it adds to the

motivation of the learner meeting the goal. Unfortunately, this information can often interfere

with the main topic of instruction and become a distraction rather than an asset. A primary

component of the Coherence Principle is avoiding the use of extraneous graphics in e-learning

modules. Pictures, while they can add a decorative property to the design, are not necessary if

they do not add to the content that is being presented. Additionally, adding sounds and music

that are not essential to instruction just adds input to the learners auditory channel that doesnt

need to be accessed by the student.

Personalization Principle

Another way to engage learners is by making e-learning more personalized rather than

general. Conversational speech allows the learner to feel that they are not just receiving

information, but are part of the learning process. By asking questions or using personalized

pronouns, the individual will use cognition more to analyze the material. Kartal (2010) who

states Students working with a science simulation game that had an on-screen agent who spoke

in a personalized style (using the pronouns I and you) performed better on retention and transfer

tests than students who learned with an agent that spoke in a nonpersonalized formal style (p.

616). This statement shows that the more personalized less formal dialogue can lead to better

performance by learners.

Also, incorporating human narration instead of machine voice can also make a learning

module more inviting to participants. People make a better connection and have better

knowledge transfer when a human voice is used rather than a machine voice (Clark and Mayer,

2011). Computer voice has little to no inflection and can be very cumbersome to listen to, even

with the advances in technology. Also, machine voice is also very impersonal as individuals may

feel that they are receiving information from a computer, rather than a human, which may weigh

on the feeling that the information is not being presented by an individual with relevant prior


Segmenting and Pre-training Principle

The Segmenting Principle is the idea that large modules of material can be broken down

into smaller more manageable chunks to reduce the load the learner receives at one time. A good

way to implement the principle is to identify the major concepts or steps to a process and present

them separately rather than together. When creating an e-learning module, a designer can

include a continue button that allows learners to move on to additional information or steps in the

lesson. It has been identified that individuals transfer information that is presented in segments

better than continuous lessons (Clark and Mayer, 2011),

Another item that may be included is pre-training material. Pre-training reduces the

cognitive load of the students by allowing them to have the information before the primary

instruction rather than adding to the already complex presentation. Pre-training may include

items such as definitions, graphics, user guides, etc. that the student can access before attending

the full instructional lesson. This pre-training makes available the working memory that would

have been used during the lesson. Pre-training is especially important if the information is very

complex and the learner has little prior knowledge of the topics that are being offered.

Leveraging Examples

Examples may be used in the design of a course to provide a reference for learners to

access simultaneously with the information they are being presented. One type of example is the

worked example which is a document that provides a step by step process of how to come to a

solution to a problem. Worked examples are particularly important for complex tasks because

they require the learner to use more cognitive function, which is why worked examples decrease

this load. An effective way to use worked examples is to start with the complete example and

slowly transition to the learners completing the problems on their own. Additionally, self-

evaluation allows the students to discuss their thought process openly. While reviewing the

examples, students can receive feedback and gain a deeper understanding of the process. One

way that a designer can incorporate self-evaluation is to include questions to the learner that can

be internalized or discussed collaboratively with others.

Practice Exercises

Practice is essential for the transition of skills from short-term to long-term memory.

Identification of the amount of practice is critical of the designer because practice takes time to

design, as well as implement. Practice can be done for a short period or extended over months or

years. The amount of practice that needs to be included in design may depend on the amount of

information being presented, prior knowledge of the learner, and the complexity of the skill. The

term that is often used is Practice makes perfect which is often used when describing motor

skills such as hitting a baseball with a bat. This term also is true for cognitive skills as well. If a

person learns a skill and does not use it, especially in the short-term, it becomes tough to

transition that information to long-term memory. Practice must be relevant to the learning

outcomes, or it will not allow for the correct skills to be retained.


Collaborative learning or group learning is beneficial in the educational setting. Andrews

and Rapp (2015) state When group members share and consider others ideas, these differences

can help make salient the gaps in knowledge and reasoning that members hold, creating a state of

discomfort attributable to discrepancies between current knowledge and new information. (p.

183). These gaps lead to learners formulating new ideas on the material they are receiving and

provide an opportunity for change in their prior knowledge. Individuals may enter a course with

the notion that they have a good understanding of the concepts and after collaboration find new

meaning in the matter that is offered. Collaboration is particularly useful for individuals who

may be struggling with tasks, by allowing them to work with others who are proficient. Some

items that a designer should consider when utilizing collaborative activities are the group size,

the complexity of the material, and providing individual activities along with collaboration.

Learner Control

Learner control is the idea that individuals learn better when they have control of the way

they are receiving instruction. Clark and Mayer (2011) find that There is little correspondence

between learner perceptions of lesson effectiveness and actual instructional value. In short,

liking is not the same as learning (sec. 15.2). This statement shows that often learners may feel

that they learn better having more control, but often that is not the case. One of the main items

that need to be considered when giving learners control over their instructional choices is their

prior knowledge and skill level. If a person has little knowledge of the instructional material, the

control may add unnecessary strain on their ability to retain information. Additionally, if learners

struggle with technology, they may find it more challenging and increase cognitive load trying to

utilize the e-learning format. Designers may conclude that implementing limited control to the

student by adding choices, but ensuring that learners receive core material, will lead to better

learning outcomes rather than giving them full control.

Building Thinking Skills

Thinking skills are in demand in most career paths that an individual may take. Skills

like problem-solving, creativity, and metacognition are assets to companies as they provide

innovation and decision-making that are needed in most job functions. Metacognition is a

crucial thinking skill that individuals can use to be self-aware of their learning. Verbalization is

one strategy of metacognition that promotes the learner to think deeper about how the

information leads to the solution, rather than skimming the material and immediately solving

based on the concepts provided. A second strategy is designing engaging curriculum including

items like problem-solving activities, collaborative learning, and elements that allow the learners

to form their conclusion, impact them by allowing more interaction and participation in the


Simulations and Games

Simulations and instructional games have been growing in their appeal in the educational

setting. Some believe that the reason for the gain in popularity is that games are more motivating

than other forms of instruction. This cause has not been shown to be true. Wouters, Van

Nimwegen, Van Oostendorp, and Van der Spek, (2013) find in their analysis the results of the

meta-analysis show that serious games are not more motivating than the instructional methods

used in the comparison group (p. 261). Though motivational factors may not be the primary

reason, there are times when games are useful in the educational setting. Games can be helpful

for learning specific skills such as spatial visualization and memory recall. A designer must

ensure when adding games to a curriculum that it adds to the learning goals and is not just a

means of entertainment.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal design for learning (UDL) means that instructional materials should be

designed to be accessed and utilized by as many people as possible. This design method means

that individuals of different cultures, languages, and physical attributes, etc. should be considered

when designing instructional material. Also, included are those with disabilities such as

blindness or hearing challenges. By creating for as many individuals as possible, it allows a

designer to ensure that their instruction is designed for all learners and may include items such as

voiceover, captions, and easy navigation for e-learning. Some of the challenges individuals may

face when trying to implement UDL are time frame restrictions and cost. Instructional Designers

should seek to implement as many UDL components as possible, but must also consider

limitations when creating learning modules.

Review and Evaluation of an Instructional Video

Reviewing an instructional video can help to identify principles that are lacking and

provide examples of how instruction can be produced better, so learners reach learning

outcomes. In the video Verify Figures on Same Base and Between Same Parallels

(Tutorialspoint, 2017) there are many violations of the principles that have been identified in this

paper. Identifying the violations can help a designer create more efficient instruction for the

learner. Violations can sometimes occur, but a designer should do their best to eliminate all

unnecessary information and ensure that materials are leading to learning outcomes. By

removing these violations cognitive load is reduced and they learner has a better ability to store

needed information to memory.

The contiguity principle is not followed in the video as the text that is used it placed at

the top of the images, and the text is not relevant to the visuals on the screen. This issue also

combines with the redundancy principle, as the narrator speaks the same words that are on the

screen. Additionally, the narrator speaks to terms and definitions that are not defined in the

video. This information could have been provided in a pre-training module, that way individuals

would know the terminology before taking the course. While the video does provide worked

examples, there is no practice that the learner can participate in, which would greatly assist in

meeting the learning outcome. Another feature that would have made this module much more

interactive would be the addition of learner control. Instead of a video, this information could

have been segmented out much better with an e-learning module that provided the student with

the ability to move forward when they were ready for more details. Also, self-evaluation

questions being added into the course would have allowed the learner to use thinking skills,

enabling them to talk through the problem-solving involved. Questions could also be aided by

providing a discussion board where users could ask a question and speak collaboratively.

Finally, Universal Design could have been further implemented by providing captions for the

narration and possibly multiple narrators, for those who have trouble understanding the dialect of

the narrator.


Following instructional design principles can assist the learner in meeting instructional

outcomes. There are principles that can be incorporated into an instructional design that add to

the effectiveness of the material, allowing learners to gain information and transfer the skills

outside of the educational setting. In this paper, design principles were defined and evaluated for

their effectiveness in the instructional setting. Also, an instructional video was evaluated to

demonstrate lack of design principles and how the material could have been created to increase

the value of the instruction to a learner. Defining and evaluating the design principles allows an

individual to create materials that are most efficient and reduce cognitive load. Indeed, effective

design enhances the transfer of skill to real world application of the concepts being presented.


Andrews, J. J., & Rapp, D. N. (2015). Benefits, costs, and challenges of collaboration for

learning and memory. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 1(2), 182-191.


Clark, R. C. & Mayer, R.E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines

for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (4th. ed.). San Francisco, CA: John

Wiley & Sons, Inc./Pfeiffer.

Daly, C. J., Bulloch, J. M., Ma, M., & Aidulis, D. (2016). A comparison of animated versus static

images in an instructional multimedia presentation. Advances in Physiology

Education, 40(2), 201-205. doi:10.1152/advan.00053.2015

Kartal, G. (2010). Does language matter in multimedia learning? Personalization principle

revisited. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 615-624. doi:10.1037/a0019345

Lam, B., & Tsui, K. (2013). Examining the alignment of subject learning outcomes and course

curricula through curriculum mapping. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(12).


McCrudden, M. T., Hushman, C. J., & Marley, S. C. (2014). Exploring the boundary conditions

of the redundancy principle. Journal of Experimental Education, 82(4), 537-554.


Oliveira Neto, J., Huang, W., & Azevedo Melli, N. (2015). Online learning: audio or

text? Educational Technology Research & Development, 63(4), 555-573.


Tutorialspoint (2017). Verify Figures on Same Base and Between Same Parallels. Retrieved from


Wouters, P., van Nimwegen, C., van Oostendorp, H., & van der Spek, E. D. (2013). A meta-

analysis of the cognitive and motivational effects of serious games. Journal of

Educational Psychology, 105(2), 249-265. doi:10.1037/a0031311