thumbs-upEffective online (or offline) instructional design is a critical component to improving learning retention. Without a well through-out instructional model, learning opportunities can be missed – sometimes completely.

There are many theories on instructional design best practices. Below are nine strategies, as originally detailed by Robert Marzano.

1. Identifying Similarities & Differences – Breaking a concept into its similar and dissimilar characteristics enables students to comprehend complex problems by engaging in simple analysis.

2. Summarizing & Note Taking – Both of these skills support increased learning comprehension as it requires the learner to understand what is essential and then put it into their own words.

3. Reinforcing Effort & Providing Recognition – Instructors should help students see the relationship between effort, achievement, and recognition.

4. Homework & Practice – Practice is the best teacher, be it simulations or traditional homework, then intent should be to achieve a specific outcome.

5. Non-Linguistic Representations – Using images during learning can reinforce concepts and the vocabulary around the concepts.

6. Cooperative Learning – Grouping learners results in a positive effect on overall learning.

7. Setting Objectives & Providing Feedback – Encourage the use of SMART objectives and then provide feedback against these same objectives.

8. Generating and Testing Hypothesis – Encouraging prediction and explanation around these predictions forces learners to think about the content in terms of outcomes.

9. Questions, Cues, and Advance Organizers – Use questions and cues to help learners draw upon previous experiences and knowledge to make sense of new information.


Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D.J., & Pollock, J.E. (2000). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R.J. (2003), What works in schools: translating research into action. Alexandrai, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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