Key Takeaways From “Applying Learning Theories and Instructional Design Models for Effective Instruction” (Khalil & Elkhider, 2016)

This week, I have an assignment in my course, E-Learning in Language Teaching, which gives me a chance to read the article Applying learning theories and instructional design models for effective instruction by Mohammed K. Khalil and Ihsan A. Elkhider (2016). The blog for today will present key takeaways from the article I have read. Here and there, I reflect on my background knowledge of learning theories and instructional design. This blog will follow the Q&A format, which hopefully can give you some valuable key points after reading through.

Why is this article important? What are the purposes of this article?

The authors start by pointing out the paradox that faculty members teaching higher education subject matters usually lack a profound understanding of designing and delivering instructions scientifically and efficiently. Therefore, the article is written with two main objectives, (1) to examine learning and instructional design theoretically and (2) to suggest a practical framework based on the theoretical evidence.

How do humans learn?

Humans need to process information in their working memory. Learners learn in two ways: rote learning and elaborative rehearsal. While rote learning only deals with the surface of information, elaborative rehearsal helps learners learn more deeply, facilitating true understanding of subject matters. Therefore, the second way should be more focused in instructional design.

What are some domains of learning? How each of them can be developed?

Five identified domains include motor skills, verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies and attitudes (Gagné, 1985). The table below summarises key information regarding the mastery of these domains. The main message of examining different learning domains is to show the necessity to employ various instructional strategies and different assessment methods, based on learning objectives, learner characteristics and teaching context.

Domains of learning: definitions and learning ways

What are the primary learning theories? How are they different?

Three main learning theories the authors mention include behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Behaviourism develops on the view that learning is habit formation and developing new behaviours. Cognitivism considers learning related to humans’ cognitive skills. Constructivism regards learning as a process of meaning construction through experience and new information. Regarding learners’ roles, while behaviourism views learners as passive participants, the other two theories see them as actively involved in the process.

What are some other essential learning theories? What do they say?

Besides three primary theories (behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism), the paper also sheds light on adult learning theory, cognitive load theory, and multimedia theory. These are important in the process of developing instructions in order to accommodate the learners’ characteristics and experiences. Adult learning theory relates to andragogy (helping adults learn) and self-directed learning. Cognitive load theory says that instructions should be designed according to human cognitive structure (sensory memory, working memory, and long-term memory). Multimedia theory proposes the effective combination of verbal learning (learning through languages) and pictorial learning (learning from pictures – or visuals).

What are the principles of instructional design?

The authors refer to the instructional design principles of Merrill (2002). I have visualised the five principles in the flow chart below. The names of these stages are my own conceptualisation to make it more memorable.

Principles of instructional design: A visualisation of Merrill’s (2002)

What are some popular instructional design models? How are they similar and different?

Three models are brought into the discussion. The similarity is that all the mentioned models call for five stages, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. In their essence, while the ADDIE and Dick and Carey models are derived from behavioural approaches to learning, 4CD/ID is based on cognitivists’ views. After reviewing the three models, the authors suggest that ADDIE has a simplified and user-friendly framework. At the same time, the Dick and Carey model is useful when more detailed information and explanations are in need. The 4CD/ID best fits with very complex learning materials.

What do the authors suggest for faculty members (i.e. people who develop and deliver learning materials)?

The flow chart below visualises my takeaways from the framework. There are different steps with clear notes to do in each phase, including Analysis, Design, Development and Implementation. The authors also indicate the underlying principles and theories for corresponding phases. The Assessment phase can be carried out at any time of the procedure.

Suggested framework for instructional design

This also concludes my post for today. Hopefully, my key takeaways will benefit you in designing and delivering your instructions. This is also the first time I have tried the Q&A format for my blog so if you find that helpful, please kindly let me know.


Khalil, M. K., & Elkhider, I. A. (2016, June). Applying learning theories and instructional design models for effective instruction. Advances in Physiology Education, 40(2), 147–156.

Willingham, D. B. (1998). A neuropsychological theory of motor skill learning. Psychological Review, 105(3), 558–584.

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