The elaboration theory’s procedure for designing instruction

A conceptual approach
  • Charles M. Reigeluth
  • Afnan Darwazeh


This paper describes the use of elaboration theory in selecting, sequencing, synthesizing, and summarizing instructional content that is predominantly conceptual in nature. A brief summary of the elaboration theory is provided, as well as a description of the major works that the elaboration theory has incorporated or built upon. A nine-step procedure is presented which can be used by designers and teachers working together as a team. The procedure involves (1) deciding when to use a conceptual approach, (2) selecting the concepts to be taught and organizing them into knowledge structures, (3) deciding what is the most inclusive of those knowledge structures, (4) arranging that knowledge structure’s concepts in a general-to-detailed sequence that will provide the “skeleton” or basic structure of the course, (5) identifying other ideas and facts that should also be taught (including learning prerequisites) and adding “flesh” to the skeleton of the course by allocating each such idea and fact to its most highly related “skeletal” concept, (6) allocating all content to lessons, (7) sequencing the content within each lesson, (8) designing the test items and instruction on each individual piece of content (i.e., on each concept, principle, procedure, and fact), and (9) creating synthesis test items and instructional components. Prescriptions for developing instruction on a single piece of content (step 8 above) are based on Merrill’s component display theory.


Instructional Design Conceptual Structure Learner Control Instructional Development Motivational Strategy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles M. Reigeluth
    • 1
  • Afnan Darwazeh
    • 1
  1. 1.Program of Instructional Design, Development, and EvaluationSyracuse UniversitySyracuse

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