Instructional Design is the process of understanding learning behaviours. This guides our choices of instructional sequences and strategies to meet the needs of the learners and the desired learning outcomes.

David Merrill, an education researcher reviewed instructional design theories to identify common principles.  He devised the following five principles.


  • Problem

Student learning is promoted when they are engaged in solving relevant real-world problems.

  • Activation of prior experience or knowledge

Asking students to think about the existing knowledge they have of the subject area.

  • Demonstration of skills or knowledge

Connecting that knowledge to the central problem to increase relevance – this can be done through testing.

  • Application of skills or knowledge

Planning how to guide the students to use their skill or knowledge to assess and finally solve the problem.

  • Integration of skills or knowledge to the real world

Identifying ways the students can integrate what they are learning into what they do in the real world and inviting them to do it.

It is important for teachers to consider these principles to increase and enhance the possibility of learning. We use these principles to acquire knowledge and skill in a more efficient, effective and appealing manner. Merrill’s principles of instruction encourage the engagement of learners so that they learn faster and gain deeper levels of understanding.

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