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Analysis of Three Instructional Design Models

Info: 2807 words (11 pages) Dissertation
Published: 13th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Design

Analysis of Three Instructional Design Models


This paper will briefly review and compare three instructional design models: Dick and Carey’s Systems Approach (DC) Model, the generic “Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation” (ADDIE) Model, and Michael Allen’s Successive Approximation (SAM) Model.

The DC and SAM models were inspired by ADDIE, their predecessor.  Each of these models has changed over time due to a need to address specific challenges in instructional design.  As learners’ needs change and technology advances, instructional design models will continue to evolve.

Dick & Carey’s Systems Approach Model



Dick and Carey’s Systems Approach (DC) Model is categorized as an instructional systems design (ISD) model (Sink, 2014).  The systematic model was originally presented at FSU in 1978 and has evolved over time (Bell & Schilling, n.d.).  Similar to other ISD models, Dick and Carey’s work was influenced by the ADDIE Model (Tan, 2005).  Today, the DC Model, described as a procedural system, consists of ten process components (Dick & Carey, 2015; Swapnil, 2008).  “The model addresses instruction as an entire system, focusing on the interrelationship between context, content, learning and instruction” (IDC, n.d.).  The goal is to create “effective instruction,” and if a problem is found during development or implementation, “determine how instruction can be improved” (Dick & Carey, 2015).



The DC Model offers several benefits for instructional design:

  • A helpful methodology for training instructional designers (Dick, 1996).
  • Front-end focus on the learners’ needs and prior knowledge (Le, 2011).  “Careful attention is paid to determining what must be learned and what learners must already know in order to begin the instruction” (Dick & Carey, 2015).
  • A tight relationship between the model’s components, “especially the relationship between instructional strategy and desired learning outcomes” (Dick & Carey, 2015).
  • As a generic process, the model can be successfully used in various sectors – education, business, government, nonprofits, and the military (Dick & Carey, 2015).
  • “The systems approach is an invaluable tool for identifying what is to be taught, determining how to teach it, and evaluation the instruction to find out whether it is effective” (Dick & Carey, 2015).
  • Although the DC Model is described as a procedural system, once instructional goal has been established, the ID team can complete the remaining phases can be accomplished iteratively and in any order (Utama, 2016).



Some of the possible challenges when using the DC Model include:

  • The process can be cumbersome for some instructional design projects (Akbulut, 2007).
  • The approach can be time-consuming (Le, 2011).
  • xxxxx

Adherence to Learning Theory

Over the years, the DC Model was influenced by several learning theories.  “The Dick and Carey Model incorporates an eclectic set of tools drawn from major theoretical positions since the late 1930s and is an effective design framework for guiding pedagogical practices within all foundational orientations” (Dick & Carey, 2015).  Examples of the model’s adherence to learning theory include:

  • Behaviorism: Focus on the learners’ characteristics and needs, assessing learnrs to determine the starting point for the instruction, defining performance objectives, determining an instructional strategy, breaking learning into sub-skills that a learner can master before moving on to more complex skills, rewarding learners for observed behavioral change.
  • Cognitive Information Processing (CIP):  Specifics include: Connecting new content to past knowledge, reinforcing content using different delivery formats, organizing and “chunking” complex information, using cues to assist learners to reinforce and retrieve information.
  • Gagné: Dick and Carey were also influenced by Robert Gagné’s research, which “incorporated cognitive information processing views of learning that assume most human behavior to be very complex and controlled primarily by a person’s internal mental processes rather than external stimulus and reinforcements” (Dick & Carey, 2015).
  • Knowles: Andragogy theory can also be seen in Dick and Carey’s work.  Andragogy describes the characteristics of the adult learner, specifically motivation, past experience, self-direction, and orientation to learning.




ADDIE is a generic instructional design process or framework consisting of five phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, with each phase feeding into the next phase (“Instructional Design Models,” n.d.).  As a systematic approach, it is considered one of the most popular members of the ISD family and has influenced several ID model sucessors (Sink, 2014).  Florida State University created the model in 1975 for the U.S. Army (“History of the ADDIE Model,” n.d.).  By the mid-1980s, ADDIE evolved from a waterfall model to a dynamic or iterative model (“History of the ADDIE Model,” n.d.)(Peterson, 2003).



  • The foundation of other ISD models.  Well established and widely used (Arshavsky, n.d.).
  • As a generic framework, ADDIE offers flexibility for the instructional designer or design team to modify, as needed.
  • The generic nature of ADDIE allows it to be used across many sectors/industries.
  • Provides an ID team with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities during the project.
  • As a structured process, ADDIE ensures that key activities are not missed.  A good approach for those new to instructional design.


As an ISD model, ADDIE experiences some of the same challenges as other ISD models, like the DC model.  In its waterfall format, ADDIE’s sequential approach gave instructional designers several challenges (Rimmer, n.d.):

  • Too linear and not as flexible as other models (Arshavsky, n.d.).
  • Long development cycles can be time consuing, which can impact a project’s time and money.
  • Communication difficulties with SMEs and stakeholders, which forces these customers to wait until the end of the cycle to see the product.
  • Limited time for testing, if the project runs longer than planned or goes over budget, testing time tends to be cut short.

Adherence to Learning Theory

  • Behaviorism:
  • Cog
  • Con

Successive Approximation Model (SAM)


SAM is an agile development model developed by Michael Allen, PhD (CEO, Allen Interactions).  Unlike ADDIE’s linear process, SAM is an instructional design approach that uses smaller, iterative cycles.  Allen sees SAM as a “process for efficient and flexible design and development of engaging and effective learning products” (Allen, Sites, & American Society for Training and Development, 2012).

SAM comes in two flavors: SAM1 is a basic version of the model consisting of three iterations or cycles and is a good approach for smaller projects (Rimmer, n.d.).  SAM2 is an extended version of SAM, more applicable for more complex projects.  This version consisting of three phases (Preparation, Itertive Design and Iterative Development) with separate iterations or cycles within these phases (Allen & Sites, 2012).


  • Not a linear, but a flexible iterative process, using small cycles making it possible to easily make quick project adjustments, as needed.
  • Allows for creating prototypes/mockups early in the process for feedback (Arshavsky, n.d.; Huhn, 2013).
  • Highly collaborative and teamwork based (“The New Frontier of Successive Approximation Model – Your eLearning World,” 2014). Getting SMEs/stakeholders involved in the process early.


  • Multiple evaluations: The repetitive nature of SAM can also be a limitation, as teams can “become desensitized to the review process and this can allow for errors” (Aposto, 2017; Arshavsky, n.d.).
  • For smaller projects, repetitive cycles can also waste time and resources (Aposto, 2017).
  • The iterative process can have the ID team spending time designing prototypes/mockups that will require updates (Arshavsky, n.d.).

Adherence to Learning Theory


Once the learners’ characteristics and the performance objectives are defined, Allen (2017) recommends following the CCAF Design Model (Context, Challenge, Activity, and Feedback) focusing on what the “learner needs to do” versus what the “learner needs to know”.  Another words, it isn’t enough to get the content right, the learner must have a chance to “apply the content to solve some problem or achieve some significant end” (Edwards, 2015).  Following the CCAF Design Model creates “learning experiences that are Meaningful, Memorable, Motivational, and Measurable” (Allen & Sites, 2012).

Allen’s approach can tie to several of the learning theories.

  • Behaviorism
  • CIP
  • Gagne’s theory

Compare and Contrast the three models

ADDIE defined an instructional design process foundation for its successors.  As a generic framework, ADDIE made it possible for others to customize it to meet their instructional design needs.  Although ADDIE is considered by many to be old and outdated, it continues to make an impression on today’s instructional design efforts.

As ISD models, ADDIE and the DC Model are linear processes that are similar in several ways.  Both generic models use a phased development approach (input, processing, output).  The phases/components have similar missions.  Both models are influenced by Behaviorism, CIP, and Gagne’s Theory.  Each begins with an analysis of the learners, their needs, and defining the instructional goals.

The DC Model took ADDIE to the next level.  The DC Model is a more detailed approach.  Dick and Carey refined ADDIE’s five phases into ten more manageable components.  The models address the evaluation process differently (Husain, 2014).  ADDIE completes the formative and summative evaluations during the model’s final phase, while the DC Model has evaluations throughout the model, allowing for adjustments to be made (Husain, 2014).

The ISD models and SAM use similar terminology and approaches, with each model using analysis, design and development phases.  Although Allen’s strategy to meet learners’ needs differ, the focus on the learners’ needs and instructional goals is similar to the priority given in the ISD model.  Looking at the latest versions of the DC and ADDIE models, they could be viewed has having some iterative behaviors.

The execution of an ISD model and SAM differ greatly – linear approach (ISD model) versus the iterative process (SAM).  The linear approach gives the impression of a more controlled process, where an iterative approach comes across as a fast moving, aggressive process.  For some projects, SAM offers flexibility and a way to expedite projects and save ID funds.

Whether working as an independent instructional designer or part of an organization’s ID team, selecting the right approach should be determined by the complexity of the project, and the level of instructional design experience.  For example, inexperienced ID teams might be more effective using ADDIE or the DC Model, while complex projects could benefit from SAM2 with an experienced ID team.  Inexperienced instructional designers could get started with the Agile approach by using SAM1 and selecting a simple projects.


Each of the three models discussed present the instructional designer with advantages and challenges.  Having well-established models to pull from save the profession from constantly reinventing the wheel.  Instructional designers can select, and in many cases, customize the model or framework that meets the needs of their learners and their organizations.  Gustafson and Branch (2002) state how ID models not only offer a process roadmap, but also provide a management and collaboration infrastructure for the team of designers, technologists, SMEs, and stakeholders.

There is no reason to walk away the ISD methodologies.  ADDIE and the DC Model will continue to be a popular instructional design approach and will evolve as needed.  SAM has high visibility, but it isn’t a silver bullet.  Although Allen Interactions promotes and uses SAM with its clients, Allen’s team is highly experienced in using the model.  It is key for the instructional designer to select the right approach for their organization and ID projects.


ASTD chapter (Sink)

Allen, M., & Sites, R. (2012). Leaving Addie for Sam: An Agile Model for Developing the Best e-Learning Experiences. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=yzavBQAAQBAJ&pgis=1

Aposto, A. (2017). Successive Approximation Model (SAM). Is this agile model suitable for your instruction? | Andreas Aposto, MSc IT, PMP | Pulse | LinkedIn. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/successive-approximation-model-sam-agile-suitable-andreas

Arshavsky, M. (n.d.). ADDIE vs SAM. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from https://spark.adobe.com/page/yfbfq9Ccrkxxz/

Edwards, E. (2015). Using Instructional Interactivity to Improve e-Learning Design.

Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. (2012). Survey of Instructional Development Models (4th ed.). Syracuse: ERIC Clearinghose on Information & Technology. Retrieved from https://www.td.org/Publications/Books/Leaving-ADDIE-for-SAM

History of the ADDIE Model. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/history_isd/addie.html

Huhn, J. (2013). Agile vs ADDIE: Which Is Better for Learning Design? Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://www.bottomlineperformance.com/agile-vs-addie-which-is-better-for-learning-design/

Husain, S. (2014). ADDIE vs. Dick and Carey Model. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://sarwathusain.weebly.com/ci–5921/addie-vs-dick-and-carey-model

Instructional Design Models. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/

Peterson, C. (2003). Bringing ADDIE to Life: Instructional Design at Its Best. Jl. of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 12(3), 227–241.

Rimmer, T. (n.d.). An Introduction to SAM for Instructional Designers – E-Learning Heroes. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://community.articulate.com/articles/an-introduction-to-sam-for-instructional-designers

Sink, D. L. (2014). Design Models and Learning Theories for Adults. In E. Biech (Ed.), ASTD Handbook: The Definitive Reference for Training & Development (2nd ed., pp. 181–199). Alexandria: ASTD Press.

The New Frontier of Successive Approximation Model – Your eLearning World. (2014). Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://yourelearningworld.com/the-new-frontier-of-successive-approximation-model/

Bell, N. & Schilling, J. (n.d.)

CI484, Dan Le, 2011

Dick & Carey text, 2015

IDC, n.d.

Swapnil, 2008

Tan, 2005

Akbulut, Y. (2007). Implications Of Two Well-Known Models For Instructional Designers In Distance Education: Dick-Carey versus Morrison-Ross-Kemp. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education 8(2), 62-68. Retrieved from: http://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/tojde26/index.htm

Dick, W. (1996). The Dick and Carey Model: Will it survive the decade? Educational Technology, Research, and Design 44(3), 55-63. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.proxy.bsu.edu/stable/30221035?seq=9

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