Between eclecticism and orthodoxy in instructional design

Development Article


This paper presents the concept of critical flexibility as an alternative to eclecticism in instructional design. Eclecticism is often viewed as a persuasive alternative to theoretical orthodoxy (i.e., rigid use of a single perspective or process) due to the openness and flexibility it purports to offer. In contrast, the authors argue that eclecticism ignores or discourages critical reflection regarding background understanding (e.g., implicit assumptions and values) and perpetuates the lack of openness and flexibility commonly associated with orthodoxy. Critical flexibility, as an alternative to eclecticism, emphasizes an awareness of background understanding, but construes it as capable of being explicated, critically examined, adjusted in specific contexts, and refined or developed over time to facilitate increasingly flexible and effective design practices. The authors clarify the nature of critical flexibility as a general way of being involved in the design process, suggest how it helps overcome the traditional theory–practice split, and discuss several of its implications for scholarship and training.


Eclecticism Theory Practice Assumptions Critical thinking 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instructional Psychology and TechnologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Learning, Design, and TechnologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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