Tip #125: MTM: The Elements of Instructional Design

There are eight elements that should be considered in the design of an effective lesson. These elements constitute building blocks that, if placed in the appropriate sequence for the content to be taught, can ensure that the learners have the basic knowledge they need so that they can be successful.

  1. Objective: identify the learning objectives so that the students know what to expect in the lesson.
  2. Anticipatory Set: ask a question or use a brief activity that requires the students to focus on the learning objective.
  3. Input: present the content to be learned, or draw it from the students, possibly through their response to the anticipatory set.
  4. Model: provide an example of the content, possibly through an analogy to explain the essence of what is to be taught.
  5. Check for Comprehension: ask or respond to questions.
  6. Guided/Monitored Practice: walk the students through another example so that they can participate in applying the content.
  7. Independent Practice: have the students participate in an exercise that requires them to apply the content in another example without the instructor’s assistance.
  8. Closure: end the lesson to close down thinking.

The elements can be combined: for example, checking for comprehension and guided/monitored practice. They can be placed in a different order: for example, letting the students identify what the objective is later in the lesson rather than telling them right away. They can also be eliminated if they are not relevant to the learning process.

For some reason, some early adopters of the Mastery Teaching Model did not realize this. They insisted that all eight elements must be used and should be sequenced in a specific order. This misguided practice generated a perception that the model was rigid and stifled creativity- when in fact the essence of the Mastery Teaching Model is teacher flexibility in decision-making to meet the learner’s needs.

This misunderstanding distressed Madeline Hunter. In her last book, Enhancing Teaching, she devoted two early chapters to responding to her detractors. She began: “What’s wrong with Madeline Hunter? More specifically, what’s wrong with a model of teaching that increases the probability of learning by (1) identifying professional decisions teachers must make; (2) supplying research-based cause-effect relationships to support those decisions; and (3) encouraging the teacher to use data emerging from the student and the situation to augment or correct those decisions? Doesn’t knowing cause and most probable effect free teachers for creative, successful teaching? I always thought so. In fact, I still do…”

“…Our clinical theory of instruction is based on the premise that the teacher is a decision maker. Because no one can tell the teacher what to do, our purpose is to tell teachers what to consider before deciding what to do and, as a result, to base teaching decisions on sound theory rather than on folklore and fantasy.”

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