Instructional Design Models in the Educational Industry

Even if you’re not required to construct your lessons or lesson plans, it’s a great idea to know the theory behind what’s involved with curriculum development. If you’re a fully certified teacher at the state level, you’ve probably come across many of these concepts before. However, if you have a Master’s degree in your field, you may not have been required to take any educational courses before accepting your teaching post, whether it be a fully online teaching job or a position at a bricks and mortar institution.

The following information focuses on two models of widely used instructional design – the ADDIE model and the Gradual Release Model.


One of the most popular and commonly used models of ID is the ADDIE model. ADDIE is an acronym which stands for Analysis, Develop, Design, Implement, and Evaluate.

  • Analysis– During this stage of the design process, the Instructional Designer should aim to assess the audience and its needs, define the outcomes and objectives of the training/lesson, and consider the logistics of how the training will be implemented.
  • Design – The design phase of this process asks the instructional designer to choose the structure of the training, solidify the training outcomes, decide what kind of activities and assessments will be used, and create all of the graphics and storyboards for activities used in the training.
  • Develop – After creating the storyboards and graphics for the learning activities and assessments, it’s time to actually create the training program by producing those deliverables.
  • Implement – When the training program is complete, it’s time to implement the training either online or in a classroom setting. If the training is completed online, it’s important to make sure the right equipment is available and that the website is available and fully function. If the training is done in person, an instructor’s manual and script may be necessary and should be addressed during the design stage.
  • Evaluate – During this final phase of the ADDIE model, it’s essential that the instructional designer analyze the data from the training exercises and participant surveys to determine how successful the training program was at meeting the previously determined training objectives.

Gradual Release Model

The Gradual Release Model is most often applied in the K-12 educational industry. Like ADDIE, the first step is to analyze the audience and objectives of the lesson. After defining the performance objectives, the lesson, activities, and assessments are created to target those goals.

The key difference between the ADDIE and GRM models is how the GRM model focuses on a particular lesson structure. The structure of the lesson guides the students from observing a demonstration, to instructor shared practice, to peer guided practice, to independent practice. The clear benefit of this lesson centered model is that it allows the student not only to comprehend an idea but to actually apply the concept independently. It should be noted that students may need to move back and forth between steps in the process in a non-linear fashion to achieve true mastery.

This table highlights some of the pros and cons of each of these types of Instructional Design:

ID ModelAdvantagesDisadvantages
Adaptable to different evaluation strategies
Widely Used
Linear Process
Time Consuming
Gradual Release Model (GRM)Teaches mastery and application
Students gain confidence
Instruction is individual
Teacher is solely responsible for assessments, which can lead to inaccuracy
Small groups are preferable
Too much time must be devoted to unlearning misconceptions