Instructional Systems Design

Instructional Systems Design

Instructional systems design describes the formal process through which a training program is designed, developed, implemented and evaluated. In many respects, it is the formal process through which the science of instruction, learning and assessment is put into practice to ensure that a training program is deployed effectively and achieves its overall goals.

In any high-risk industry, instructional systems design is critical: a non-technical skills training program can ensure that appropriate skills development takes place and that trainees are able to be assessed as competent in using those skills in practice.

Instructional systems design was first formally described in the 1970s, having emerged from the systematic approach used in various military contexts for the design of training programs in the 1950s and 1960s. At this time, a variety of models were developed to describe requisite activities and stages in the instructional design process. For instance, Dick and Carey described a nine-step model that emphasises the specification of core competencies and the creation of criterion-referenced tests prior to the design of the training program itself.1 This approach is critical as it defines performance objectives prior to making decisions about the best way to develop the requisite knowledge and skills.

Other models provide either a simpler or a more detailed sequence of steps in the overall process of instructional systems design. However, the majority of these follow a core series of general phases, such as (1) analysis; (2) design and development; (3) implementation; and (4) evaluation (ADDIE).2

Over the years, the generic ADDIE model has been criticised for being too narrow in its conceptualisation of how professionals develop, maintain and enhance their skills and for not paying sufficient attention to the less formal ways in which skill development takes place through reflective practice. However, for the purpose of developing non-technical skills programs, we can adapt the generic ADDIE model and include less formal training interventions in our overall design.

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