Essence of the paradigm shift in instructional design theory and practice

The paradigm shift in instructional design theory and practice refers to the necessary change in emphasis from teacher-centered to learner-centered instruction. No longer is the traditional view of education of “presenting content to students” the focal point of ISD. Rather, the emphasis should be on ensuring that learners understand what they are taught (Reigeluth, 1999) and that they have meaningful and engaging opportunities in which to construct this learning.

This paradigm shift in ISD is absolutely critical to the field of religious education (RE). The RE field is considerably behind public education and corporate training models in relation to the having this learner-centered perspective. In far too many churches and organizations within evangelical religious circles the emphasis is still on “how to teach a lesson” rather than on “how to help students learn the lesson”. I look forward to helping this paradigm shift take place in RE.


Reigeluth, C. M. (1999). What is instructional-design theory and how is it changing? In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: a new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. 2). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Instructional Design in Religious Education

The common emphasis on lower-level objectives is certainly a common fact within religious education contexts. From my professional experiences within this field, I often see the “sage on the stage” mentality permeate instructional contexts, as the typical “Sunday school” approach has remained stagnant in regards to instructional change over the past several decades.

The religious education field has been built upon a very traditional approach to instruction and is based strongly on a strong cognitive view of learning. Authorities would support the description of the cognitive domain of learning proposed by Reigeluth and Moore (Reigeluth & Moore, 1999) that states, “Cognitive education is composed of the set of instructional methods that assist students in learning knowledge to be recalled or recognized” (p.52). Teachers see their duty to teach God’s word to children from the Bible in a manner that children can grasp and apply to their lives. Because these teachers often times are teaching a theological concept as opposed to a skill, they may tend to only incorporate learning activities at the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (Reigeluth & Moore, 1999). Most of the laity that teach weekly religious education courses do not have immense amounts of preparatory time nor do they have much extra time in the weekly class to engage in many desirable constructivist activities.

I do agree with the position stated that instructional designers should seek to develop higher-order objectives for their instructional projects. No matter the topic that is being taught, I believe it is advantageous to help learners evaluate, apply, and synthesize their learning into applicable contexts. In the religious education setting, I believe it is far more important to help a child discover why God’s principles are true and how they can be applied to his or her life rather than simple teaching that “thus saith the Lord.” The struggle within the religious education context is that there is a measure of faith that must be incorporated into the learning environment. I’m working at slowly changing the instructional mindset of the volunteer teachers in my church and helping them to see the value of incorporating constructivist learning opportunities into their classes.


Reigeluth, C. M., & Moore, J. (1999). Cognitive education and the cognitive domain. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: a new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. II). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Specificity before starting to designing instruction

The benefits of such specificity prior to beginning a project are obvious, such as: defined processes, clarified needs, rationale for project steps, etc. Now that I understand the formalized processes of these analyses, what I find interesting is that I have subconsciously performed such analyses all along. As I now possess an understanding of the clarified steps to these analyses, I can present to administration or staff a clearly defined rationale for such project development.

Task analyses may be sometimes viewed as constrictive of the development process or may hinder the speed at which development may take place. Supporters of such arguments fail to see that the extra planning efforts at the beginning of the project should actually advance development by eliminating wasteful spending of resources or energy. To any skeptical client of supervisor, I would stress that the initial analyses will ultimately foster a more quality and cost effective development process.

– Jason

IBSTPI Competencies for Instructional Design

The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction has developed a set of standard competencies for those involved in instructional design at:

What does “instructional design” mean to you?

Before beginning my first course in instructional design, my definition of “instructional design” has been simply, “a process by which instruction is designed.” I’m certain that this definition will be revised throughout my experiences in this course. Up to this point, I’ve never put much thought into my expectations or disagreements regarding the concept of instructional design.

I currently work in the religious education field and direct the children’s ministries department of a church. A large part of my responsibilities in this setting within the local church deal with curriculum development and instructional design for volunteer training and classroom religious education for children. I subsequently have built an extensive background in curriculum development for elementary religious education, specifically within the Assemblies of God. In addition to my work within the local church setting, I serve as a national field advisor for curriculum development for the Christian boys organization “Royal Rangers” and have done extensive curriculum development work for the training programs for this organization.

I also am very intrigued with utilizing technological methods to develop engaging and accessible training opportunities for religious educators. I’ve begun making these online children’s ministry training workshops available online at: I look forward to continuing to develop additional online training workshops and to employing the instructional design principles I learn. I plan to conduct developmental research to examine the development, implementation, and evaluation of online training for children’s ministers and hope to make this the focus of my dissertation.