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One of two halves of a sensory field (as of vision).


Anything that is done purposefully to facilitate learning (Reigeluth & Carr-Chellman, 2009, p. 6).
Instructional Design
The systematic and reflective process of translating principles of learning and instruction as well as components of communication theory, design theory, media theory, and systems theory into plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 4). The informing principles of Instructional design can be organized into to two child categories of theories and models.
"Theories are organized into situations and methods (Reigeluth, 1999, p. 9).
Instructional Theory
The study of how to best design instruction so that learning will take place. (Prescriptive)
A theory that offers explicit guidance on how to better help people learn to develop (Reigeluth, 1999, p. 5).
Instruction is related to teaching and education and can be defined by examining various methods of instruction. Reigeluth and Carr-Chellman best describe the concept of instruction as instructional approaches. Instructional approaches are used to “set the general direction or trajectory for the instruction and are comprised of more precise or detailed components” (Reigeluth & Carr-Chellman, 2009, p. 31). Some examples of general instructional approaches identified by Reigeluth & Carr-Chellman (2009) include problem-based learning, direct instruction in a traditional face to face setting, experiential learning such as simulation, and online learning through a web enhanced course. The goal of using a variety of instructional methods is to enhance the knowledge of learners in a target population.
The concept of instruction can also be described by using “Gagne’s nine-events of instruction,” which are instructional concepts used in the learning environment. Gagne’s nine-events are reflected as follows: “(1) Gain attention, (2) Inform learners of the objectives, (3) Stimulate recall of prerequisite, (4) Presenting the content (5) Providing learning guidance (6) Eliciting the performance, (7) Providing feedback, (8) Assessing performance, and (9) Enhancing retention and transfer” (Neo, Neo, & Teoh, 2010, p. 22-23). The description of Gagne’s events was used by Neo, Neo & Teoh (2010) in creating a learning environment that would motivate learner’s engagement in the content taught within a multimedia-learning environment. Their finding was that incorporating Gagne’s events of instruction was effective, because it improved student’s understanding of the course content and made the learning environment more conducive to student learning. Belfield (2010) also successfully utilized Gagne’s nine events of instruction with a target population of learners and concludes that sequentially following Gagne’s nine events of instruction can have positive outcomes for the learner.
Instructional Model
Prescriptive guidelines or frameworks to organize the process of creating instructional activities.


A persisting change in human performance or performance potential (Driscoll, 2007, p. 37).
Learning Theory
A descriptive theory which describes phenomena which facilitates the learning process.


“A representation of reality presented with a degree of structure and order . . . typically [an] idealized and simplified view of reality” (Richey, Klein, & Tracy, 2011, p. 8). (Descriptive)


Science of Learning
The scientific study of how people learn (Mayer, 2011, p. 3).


The process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants (Pearson & Young, 2002, p. 2).
Karnick (2013) wrote that a theory could be defined as a group of statements that describe, predict, or explain some phenomena (p. 29).  This definition is similar to the one offered by Elen and Clarebout (2007), who stated that a theory is “an integrated and internally coherent set of theoretical principles that provides a sufficient basis for empirical research in which these statements can be tested" (p. 706). Smith and Ragan (2005) also wrote that “theories are the source of principles” (p. 18) and describe a theory as “an organized set of statements that allow us to explain, predict, or control events” (p. 23). Reigeluth (2009) emphasizes the importance of recognizing the difference between a design (prescriptive) theory and a descriptive theory. Prescriptive theories are theories that identify ways of achieving a goal; descriptive theories describe the cause and effect relationships of phenomena. Hoover and Donovan (1995) identify the following four uses of theories in social science: 1) theory provides patterns for the interpretation of data, 2) theory links one study with another, theories supply frameworks within concepts and variables acquire special significance, and 4) theory allows us to interpret the larger meaning of our findings for ourselves and others (p. 40).
Based on the above research the following definition of the meaning and purpose of a social scientific theory has been synthesized: a theory provides a framework from which a coherent set of testable theoretical principles and constructs can be used to describe, explain, or predict phenomena.