A New Approach to Instruction

Chapter 1 Ten Steps


Knowledge transfer to other areas/contexts is a big goal of education. In the context that I am in, this is especially true. We want to learn a new hot JavaScript framework that will help us solve the problem we have at work or build the product/feature we want to build in a better/easier/more maintainable way.

When I learn CRUD in React, I can also use that knowledge to build CRUD applications in Vue, or any website. That’s the goal atleast.

A big issue in a lot of education out there is the reduction and isolation of concepts and skills to the point where when you try to apply the newly earned knowledge to a new situation/project/feature, you can’t do it.

This is one reason why “Just read the docs and figure it out” can be a painful journey of feeling like you don’t get it.

Functions and API need to be presented in the context that they are used in for you to truly grasp how to complete a feature / app (aka whole task).

Ten Steps is a wholistic approach to learning design that attempts to capture the complexity of systems, patterns and processes in the simplest way possible while maintaining the essence of what you’re trying to learn (vs. dealing with Fragmentation and Compartmentalization with a atomistic approach).

To do this, as mentioned in the title of the framework, there are 10 steps to learning design:

  1. Design Learning Tasks
  2. Design Performance Assessments
  3. Sequence Learning Tasks
  4. Design Supportive Information
  5. Analyze cognitive Strategies
  6. Analyze Mental Models
  7. Design Procedural Information
  8. Analyze Cognitive Rules
  9. Analyze Prerequisite Information
  10. Design Part-Task Practice

You’ll notice that 4 of the 10 steps are bolded, this is because those are the most essential steps and are a big pillar of the framework.

These are called the Four Blueprint Components.


Complex learning involves integrating knowledge, skills, and attitudes; coordinating qualitatively different constituent skills; and often transferring what is learned in school or training settings to daily life and work settings.

An often-heard student complaint is that they experience their curriculum as a disconnected set of courses or modules, with only implicit relationships between the courses and an unclear relevance of what they are supposed to learn for their future professions and why

A holistic design approach is the opposite of an atomistic one, in which complex contents and tasks are continually reduced to simpler or smaller elements such as facts and simple skills.

In this view, instruction should begin with a simplified but ‘whole’ model of reality, which is then conveyed to the learners according to sound pedagogical principles.

A holistic approach, in contrast, offers alternative ways for dealing with complexity. Most holistic approaches introduce some notion of modeling to attack this problem.

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