Combining Different Instructional Design Models

A Comparative Analysis Of Four Different Instructional Design Models

In education and training, Instructional Design takes learning experiences to another level by removing confusion and adding easily comprehensible elements. In short, Instructional Design models are the secret behind every effective module. Now, what if you could take the best characteristics from various ID models and create something that’s uniquely tailored to your needs? Each model brings its strengths and weaknesses to the table. For instance, the Dick and Carey model might be for planners, while the SAM model is for those who can quickly adapt. So, combining elements from different models is like crafting your own recipe for success. Below, we’ll take a look at the similarities and differences of four different Instructional Design models, the Dick and Carey, Kemp, action mapping, and SAM models, and find the perfect mix that will take your learning programs to the next level.

Similarities Among Models


Whether you decide to follow the Dick and Carey model or action mapping, all these models are learner-focused. This means that their principles and step-by-step guides require Instructional Designers to research learner needs and preferences and incorporate elements that meet them. Every model’s ultimate goal is to create the perfect learning experience, so they let learners guide the way.

Systematic Approach

Every model aims for the perfect module design, which is why they all have clear guidelines. No matter which one you choose, you know that it will be your map to creating top-notch content. This is called the systematic approach, and you’ll need to follow every step that’s carefully defined to achieve the best results.


Having a map also involves knowing where you’re headed. This is where goals come into place, and thankfully, the four different models are all about setting clear objectives. For example, the Dick and Carey, Kemp, and action mapping models all have a separate step for defining instructional goals, whereas SAM has a preparation phase that includes setting objectives, among other things.

Iterative Design

As we mentioned, all four models aim for perfection, but how do they ensure it? With revision and improvement. Continuous refinement is key in all of them, encouraging monitoring of the learning process, receiving and applying feedback, and even double-checking everything as soon as you create it.


Of course, all the focus on quality assurance and effectiveness can only lead to one thing: maximum engagement. Learners appreciate careful design and meaningful lessons, thus becoming more invested in the process. Whatever Instructional Design model you choose, if you follow it all the way, your learners are more likely to actively participate and enjoy moving through each module.

Key Differences

Dick And Carey Model

The Dick and Carey model follows a systematic and structured approach that’s perfect for people who love to plan. It’s technically the most strict of the four models, as it requires you to analyze everything in detail before you start carefully planning the design of your courses. It provides a comprehensive outcome; however, if you want to work on more creative endeavors, it may not be the best fit.

Kemp Design Model

This model allows for more creativity than the others. It focuses on nine elements that allow you to work on every aspect of your project, thus giving you the freedom to experiment. The downside is that modules designed with the Kemp model might be less structured and can be interpreted differently.

Action Mapping By Cathy Moore

Action mapping, as its name suggests, is all about action and impact. Instructional Designers need to create their projects with real-life applications in mind, so they must identify tasks that are suitable for each lesson. Learners tend to find these modules more relevant, as they can actually use their knowledge in their everyday lives rather than just exploring theory. The drawback is that it might not be suitable for projects with a broader audience. For instance, your employees have diverse roles, so it may be challenging to create activities that foster practical application.


SAM offers the most spot-on experience of all four models. It focuses on iterative design, meaning that you will need to work on your project again and again, each time incorporating feedback and suggestions to make it as close to perfection as possible. This makes it a flexible model, as you can adapt to any changing situation and learning needs. But make sure you carefully manage every change and monitor its progress.

How To Effectively Combine Different Instructional Design Models

Analysis Approach

Now that you know the similarities and differences between models, it’s time to understand how you can choose which elements to combine from each one to create an approach that best suits your needs. Let’s say that you want to create a project for an organization. You want the learning program to be based on careful planning, but since the company’s needs might change over time, you should also add an element of adaptability. In that case, you will utilize Dick and Carey’s thorough analysis to understand the context better and combine it with SAM’s iterative design to improve things on the spot.

Design Strategies

As far as the design process is concerned, you can combine models depending on the project’s nature. For example, you are asked to create modules that resonate with different learning preferences. Some learners prefer visual elements, others like text, and some enjoy a hands-on approach. You want to explore as many possibilities as possible, so you can go with Kemp’s design model and its nine elements that each contribute differently to the project. Now that you have your options, you want to make them applicable in real life, so you should combine them with the action mapping approach to ensure impact.


You don’t have to mix everything up. You can choose your model and then add a sprinkle of another model’s strength. For instance, you want to develop modules for an educational facility that always welcomes new students. So, your courses will need to be scalable and adaptable to different needs. No matter the model you choose, you want to add the agility aspect of SAM, which can give you the freedom to add elements, improve your work, and keep on refining things as many times as needed to make your program flawless.


As an Instructional Designer, it’s okay not to be an expert in all matters. You have to do a lot of research and experimentation to explore various approaches and see where some elements can be useful in your work. Don’t be afraid to combine seemingly different Instructional Design models and get creative until your learning programs resonates with learner needs.

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