The ADDIE Series: I

Welcome to the first in a series of 4 posts on the ADDIE instructional design (ID) model. Each post will give you an overview of what I’ve been learning in my latest course, as well as my personal reflections on the topics. Let’s begin, shall we…

Developed in 1975, the ADDIE model has become the gold standard for ID models (Hodell, 2011; Kallio, 2015). The model providers designers with the structure to create all varieties of instruction based on whatever variables come their way (Hodell, 2011). The 5 letters in ADDIE each correspond with one of the 5 phases: Analysis (gathering data on the population and problem), Design (a blueprint including objectives), Development (creating lessons, materials, assessments), Implementation (the actual teaching and learning), and Evaluation (reflection). It is worth noting that evaluation is built into each of the 5 phases, so designers are continually reflecting on their progress towards the objectives (Hodell, 2011). This video by Joel Gardner of Franklin University walks you through the stages, and really helped me understand the work of the 5 phases.

I struggled a bit, initially, to understand the evaluation phase. A classmate adroitly summarized the “E” phase as formative and summative assessment. I had understood these to be part of the implementation phase; after all, good assessment is woven into instruction. The literature emphasized reflection, so I thought  evaluation consisted of the teacher or designer looking over the completed materials and assessments and asking, “How did it go?” Then I mulled it over and realized that isn’t necessarily the case. The formative and summative assessments we give our students are the assessments we use for evaluation, we just need to look through a different lens. Instead of seeing how well the students learned, use the assessments to judge how effective the materials and instructional strategies were. The evaluation is put back on me – how did I do with my design – instead of on the students. Light bulb! I had already known this – sort of – but this made the connection explicit in my mind. I do use my students’ assessments to evaluate my instruction, but being able to fit a model to the practice makes me feel more confident.

Anyone who has gone through teacher prep programs recently will be familiar with Understanding by Design, the ID model developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (2005). Take a gander at this graphic…

Image courtesy of Durham Public Schools.

Very similar to the ADDIE model, isn’t it? Makes sense, given that ADDIE is so widely accepted and utilized. In fact, the margins of my readings this week are filled with notes that say just like UbD or UbD does this slightly differently... This has been a good reminder for me. Perhaps I’ve been delivering reading interventions for so long that the processes are becoming second nature. This week has really helped me take a step back and look at what I’m doing:

  • Am I really analyzing my students? Yes – through formative assessment, practice, progress monitoring, regular conversations with classroom teachers.
  • Am I constructing objectives for my lessons that are built on this analysis and on the essential skills/knowledge required of readers their age? Here is where I get a bit foggy. In college, an objective was a formal 1-3 sentence statement at the top of a lesson plan. My objectives tend to be much shorter – as in a few words. Before Christmas several groups were working on writing summaries, my target for the lesson simply said “summary.” While I don’t think it is necessary to revert to full sentences for my day-to-day planning, I may need to add more detail. I’m interested to see what the readings on objectives have to say.
  • Do my materials and activities serve the objective, or am have I gotten lazy and started repeating things because they are easy and familiar? This year I’m working alongside a new reading consultant, and this partnership has been immensely valuable in finding new materials, learning more about the students, and suggesting tweaks to (or entirely new) instructional techniques. I can confidently say that the materials and activities I’m using this year are serving my objectives.

For a closer look at UbD, try this video…

Gardner, J. (2012, August 9). Instructional design process [Video file]. Retrieved from

Hodell, C. (2011). ISD from the ground up – A no-nonsense approach to instructional design. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Kallio, K.A. (2015). Instructional design – Research starters education. Retrieved from

McTighe, J. (2013, July 17). What is understanding by design? Author Jay McTighe explains. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


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