Instructional development: A consideration of the interpersonal variables

  • D. O. Coldeway
  • R. V. Rasmussen


It is only recently that much attention has been paid to the interpersonal aspects of the instructional development process. While many writers have stated that interpersonal competency is a must for instructional development specialists, few have spent much time explaining why. This paper utilizes behavioral and socialpsychological frameworks to explain why the instructional development process can be a difficult and demotivating experience for a subject matter expert. Anecdotal evidence taken from interviews with three subject matter experts who were recently involved in instructional development projects is used to illustrate the difficulties that can occur. Also explored are the implications for research and for training instructional developers.

Since instructional development often consists of a collaboration between one or more instructional development specialists (IDs) and one or more subject matter experts (SMEs), it seems obvious that a significant amount of attention should be focused on the interpersonal aspects of the instructional development process. Recently there have been several articles published in the area (Bratton, 1979; Coscarelli & Stone-water, 1979; Durzo, 1979; Leitzman, Walter, Earle & Myers, 1979; Rosenberg, 1978; Rutt, 1979). According to Bratton, who has reviewed the literature on this subject (1979) much of the writing falls in the categories of personal opinions and how-to-do-it approaches. Our review of the literature indicates that much has been done in terms of developing models and theories and in extending work in other areas (e.g., organization development, consultation skills) to the area of instructional development consultation. Research on consultation processes is needed and is one of the next logical steps in the development of the field; however, there is room for further study derived from the personal experiences of IDs and SMEs engaged in the instructional development process. Moreover, while most writers have pointed out the need for IDs to develop interpersonal competence, few have provided details about why they feel so strongly about the matter.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the instructional development process from the perspective of the SME. Our goal is to explain how the instructional development process can threaten and demotivate an SME and to discuss how interpersonal skills can be used to overcome these problems.


Psychological Contract Instructional Development Subject Matter Expert Tional Development Interpersonal Aspect 
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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. O. Coldeway
    • 1
  • R. V. Rasmussen
    • 2
  1. 1.Instructional Development Instructional Development DepartmentAthabasca UniversityEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Organizational AnalysisThe University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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