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Instructional Models

Table of Contents

  • 4C/ID
  • 4MAT (McCarthy, 2000)
  • ARCS Model of Motivation (Keller, 1979, 1983)
  • Elaboration Model (Reigeluth, 1979)
  • Model of Mastery Learning (Bloom, 1971, 1985)


According to Richey, Klein, & Tracey (2011) A model is "a representation of reality presented with a degree of structure and order, and models are typically idealized and simplified views of reality" (p. 8).

Harre (1960) identified two kinds of models: micromorphs and paramorphs.

  • Micromorphs are physical, visual replicas, such as a computer simulation or a scale model of a large object.
  • Paramorphs are symbolic models, typically using verbal descriptions. The simplest example of a paramorph is the verbal analogy. The more common paramorphs can be categorized as one of the following:
    • Conceptual models
      • The conceptual model is the type of model likely to be confused with theory, as it is a general, verbal description of a particular view of reality. Conceptual models are usually more abstract than theories that deal with more specific concepts and propositions (Fawcett, 1989). Typically they are not truly explanatory, but relevant components are presented and fully defined. A conceptual model is a product of synthesizing related research; it is more likely to be supported by experience, or only limited amounts of data. Conceptual models are analytic in nature. They typically describe the relevant events based upon deductive processes of logic and analysis, as well as inferences from observations. Conceptual models like theories, are usually general and context-free.
    • Procedural models
      • Procedural models describe how to perform a task. In ID such steps are usually based upon the knowledge of what creates a successful product. This knowledge is usually either experience-based or it is derived from another related theory or model. Procedural models often serve as guides to the solution of specific problems. While most procedural models are verbal, they may visual as well. A process flowchart would be a good example of a visual procedural model. The most common procedural models in ID are the instructional systems design models that prescribe steps that should be followed in a design project. Ideally, procedural models would be based upon a confirmed theory or at least evaluation data, rather than totally upon experience-based knowledge.
    • Mathematical models
      • Mathematical models are equations which describe the relationships between various components of a situation. By applying data from new situations to a mathematical model, one can simulate the results. To devise a precise formula, one must have a great deal of data from similar situations, so that the exact relationships can be determined. Mathematical models can play several roles. The typical function is to reflect the tenets of a theory in a quantitative fashion. Thus, mathematical models become highly abstract, even as they are highly precise. They are always dependent upon a narrative description for full explanation. There are few mathematical models currently relating to ID, although mathematical modeling is an important method of theory construction in other social sciences, such as economics and political science.

Model of Mastery Learning

Learning for mastery or mastery learning, are terms coined by Benjamin Bloom in 1968 and 1971 respectively. Bloom hypothesized that a classroom with a mastery learning focus as opposed to the traditional form of instruction would reduce the achievement gaps between varying groups of students (Guskey 2007). In Mastery learning, "the students are helped to master each learning unit before proceeding to a more advanced learning task" (Bloom 1985) in contrast to "conventional instruction" (Wikipedia).