Discovering Instructional Design 15: The ASSURE Model

As we will see when we investigate the Three-Phase Design Model, stakeholders including subject matter experts, educationalists, and technical experts need to work together to design and develop learning programs and educational courseware. The ASSURE Model, a constructivist approach to training design developed by Robert Heinich and Michael Molenda of Indiana University and James D. Russell of Purdue University in the 1990’s, works best when similar collaborative principles are applied.

ASSURE is an acronym derived from the key verb-descriptor of the tasks associated with the approach (see Figure 1). As such, the model proposes a six-step guide for planning and delivering instruction; while not specifically designed for e-learning, in practice it the methodology seems to align to the requirements of designing courseware for that modality.


Figure 1. High level representation of the ASSURE Model

ASSURE Model Tasks

The ASSURE steps (or tasks) are described in detail in Table 1:

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Table 1 ASSURE Model components (after Human Resource Development website)


Analyze Learners Prerequisite skills or knowledgeWhat courses are taken prior to this one? What knowledge is assumed?

Learning Styles of the students – This model emphasizes teaching for different learning styles.

Motivations – Why is the learner taking the course?


State Objectives Statements describing what the learner will do as a result of instruction. Things to keep in mind as you write your objectives are:Focus on the learner, not the teacher

Use behaviors that reflect real world concerns

Objectives are descriptions of the learning outcomes and are written using the ABCD format.


Who is the audience? Specifies the learner(s) for whom the objective is intended.


What do you want them to do? The behavior or capability needs to be demonstrated as learner performance, an observable, measurable behavior, or a real-world skill. Use an action verb from the helpful verbs list if you have difficulty doing this.


Under what circumstances or conditions are the learners to demonstrate the skill being taught? Be sure to include equipment, tools, aids, or references the learner may or may not use, and/or special environmental conditions in which the learner has to perform.


How well do you want them to demonstrate their mastery? Degree to which the new skill must be mastered or the criterion for acceptable performance (include time limit, range of accuracy, proportion of correct responses required, and/or qualitative standards.)


Select Methods, Media and Materials You need to decide what method you will primarily use to support the learning objectives: for example: lectures, online collaboration, group work, a field trip, etc.What media you will use: photos, multimedia, video?

Are you using store bought materials, getting an outside resource to provide materials, modifying something you already have, or develop something from scratch?

Selection Criteria:

Media Selection

– Media should be selected on the basis of student need.

– We must consider the total learning situation.

– Should follow learning objectives.

– Must be appropriate for the teaching format.

– Should be consistent with the students’ capabilities and learning styles.

– Should be chosen objectively.

– Should be selected in order to best meet the learning outcomes.

– No single medium is the total solution.

– Does it match the curriculum?

– Is it accurate and current?

– Does it contain clear and concise language?

– Will it motivate and maintain interest?

– Does it provide for learner participation?

– Is it of good technical quality?

– Is there evidence of its effectiveness (e.g., field-test results)?

– Is it free from objectionable bias and advertising

– Is a user guide or other documentation included?


Utilize Media and Materials Plan how you are going to implement your media and materials. For each media type and/or materials listed in the Select step, describe in detail how you intend to implement them into your lesson to help your learners meet the lesson’s objective. Do this for each item.In order to utilize materials correctly there are several steps to creating good student-centered instruction.

1. Preview the material– Never use anything in class you haven’t thoroughly verified.

2. Prepare the material- Make sure you have everything you need and that it all works.

3. Prepare the environment– Set up the classroom so that whatever you’re doing will work in the space you have.

4. Prepare the learners– Give the students an overview, explain how they can take this information and use it and how they will be evaluated up front.

5. Provide the learning experience– Teaching is simply high theatre. Showmanship is part of the facilitator’s job. Teaching and learning should be an experience not an ordeal.


Require Learner Participation Describe how you are going to get each learner “actively and individually involved in the lesson. Ex: games, group work, presentations, etc. All activities should provide opportunities to manipulate the information and allow time for practice during the demonstration of the skill.


Evaluate and Revise Describe how you will evaluate and measure whether or not the lesson objectives were met. Were the media and the instruction effective?Evaluate student performance:

How will you determine whether or not they met the lesson’s objective?

The evaluation should match the objective. Some objectives can be adequately assessed with a pen and paper test. If the objectives call for demonstrating a process, creating a product, or developing an attitude, the evaluation will frequently require observing the behavior in action.

Evaluate media components:

How will you determine the media effectiveness?

Evaluate instructor performance:

How will you determine whether or not your own performance as instructor/facilitator was effective?

While the learner’s needs, the instructional goals, and the availability or desirability of particular media are the drivers for the design and development, Gunter and Baumbach (Education and Technology: An Encyclopedia, 2003) state that

The instructional goals should be the focus, not the goal. When integrating technology, it should always be viewed as a tool that assists… the learning needs of the student. The teacher becomes a mentor and colearner, who is actively engaged in enabling students to access, analyze, apply, and create information electronically.


Next: A Design Classic



Gunter, G. & Baumbach, D. (2004). Curriculum Integration. In: Education and Technology: An Encyclopedia. (Kovalchick, A. & Dawson, K. Eds). ABC-CLIO; illustrated edition

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J. D., Heinrich, R., Moldenda, M. (2005). Instructional Media and Technologies for Learning (8th Ed.). New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Human Resource Development [Internet] Available from: Accessed 10th June 2009