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Instructional Design

Instructional design is a process of creating "instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing" (Merrill et al., 1996). To this end, various models of instructional design have been constructed through research and practice. These include but are not limited to, models such as: 


ADDIE is a well-known acronym and instructional design model that was developed by Florida State University for military training and then adopted into other training contexts (Molenda, 2003). It consists of five phases: 

  • Analysis – Considering instructional goals, learners, context, tasks, etc. 
  • Design – Aligning instructional goals and objectives to related strategies or approaches. 
  • Development – Constructing and piloting learning resources. 
  • Implementation – Engaging the target audience in the learning experience. 
  • Evaluation – Assessing quality of experience and attainment of instructional goals.

Backward Design


Backward Design, sometimes referred to as UbD, is an approach introduced by Wiggins & McTighe in Understanding by Design (1998). It emphasizes what is learned rather than how it is taught. The three steps are: 

  • Identify desired results – What should learners be able to do? 
  • Determine acceptable evidence – How will you know they can do those things? 
  • Design-related experiences – What experiences can you construct to help build/elicit those skills or products? 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is a framework that emerged out of neuroscience research, emphasizing the what, how, and why of learning by designing flexible learning environments and activities that reduce barriers and accommodate individual learning needs (Rose & Meyer, 2002). More specifically, UDL stresses: 

  • Multiple means of representation (what I learn) – How learners acquire knowledge. 
  • Multiple means of expression (how I demonstrate learning) – How learners demonstrate knowledge. 
  • Multiple means of engagement (why it is important to me) – How learners engage in the learning process.

Instructional Design Consultation - CMU provides instructional design support to educators via the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support. You can request a consultation related to your courses, instructional materials, and teaching methods at any time. 

Designing eLearning Workshop - This self-paced workshop provides insight on how to create an effective online course.  Participants will see various ways to structure an online class, understand how to present content to increase readership and interaction, learn methods for creating engaging videos, and be exposed to a variety of learning activity examples for online teaching and learning.


Merrill, M. D.; Drake, L.; Lacy, M. J.; Pratt, J. (1996). "Reclaiming instructional design" (PDF). Educational Technology. 36 (5): 5–7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-04-26.

Molenda, Michael (May–June 2003). "In Search of the Elusive ADDIE Model". Performance improvement. 42 (5): 34–37.

Rose, DH, & Meyer, A (2002) Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). "What is backward design?" In Understanding by Design. (1 ed., pp. 7–19). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.