Why it is important for instructional designers to be able to describe and explain the philosophical foundations and theory bases of their filed?
Dept. of Educational Management, ISE, BNUZ
Philosophy is the study of the nature and meaning of existence, reality, knowledge, goodness, etc. The research goals of it are various factors or relevancy in the entire process of instructional design. And theories are organized sets of statements that allow us to explain, predict, or control events, which can be divided into descriptive theory and prescriptive one in the field of instructional design. They are the results of a lot of observation, examinations and experiments for long period with the contribution of great educators. So both philosophy and relative theories, the great wisdom of human, are of much significance in any educational practice.
Philosophical foundations and theory bases of instructional design provide axiology, epistemology and methodology. They cause we think about how much value does the knowledge in the curriculum have? What should we teach? Which way do we to choose to perform curriculum with increase of the content’s value? Their effects and significance on curriculum are the follows:
(1) Philosophy and theory is the premise of instructional design.
Theory on curriculum is the extension of philosophers’ views in education, basing on various assumption of particular philosophy. For example, idealists emphasize rationalness and introspectiveness in education, preferring elegant education in curriculum, while empiricists emphasize prior knowledge and experience and sensible studying, preferring active education in curriculum. And existentialists object rational knowledge, systematization and standardization and emphasize the absolute freedom for learners, preferring fostering wholesome personality in curriculum. So instructional designers’ belief of philosophical genre influence their thoughts and practice in curriculum, which become instructional design’s premise.
(2) Philosophy and theory is a tool of value judging in curriculum.
Generally, the value judging in curriculum is the decision of what human’s nature is and whether the possibility of education exits. This influences the choices of the content of curriculum, way of edit, method of teaching and the like. For example, empiricists and behaviorists emphasize postnatal development, and they choose the content of curriculum with the value of truth, while Christians prefer intellectual training as the main way of curriculum. And humanists and naturalists think a lot of the value of practicability, utility and taste.
(3) Philosophy and theory helps establishing instructional strategy.
Philosophy and theory helps making intelligent and reasoned decisions in various situations in the entire process of instructional design. There is no book in the world that can solve all the problems in the real life. Since instructional designers lack of experience, they should think about all the philosophy and theory in the field to help them analysis the reality they are facing. Then they try their way they choose, and change it if needed according to the thought they have based on philosophy and theory.
(4) Philosophy and theory allows instructional designers to explain why they make the decisions they do.
Sometimes designers must justify or even defend their decisions to clients or students. Theory, as well as educational philosophy, can provide a rationale for many of our decisions. That is, philosophy and theory is furthersome for designers’ work, which makes them finish their jobs easily and smoothly without too much doubt from others.
- Patricia L. Smith & Tillman J. Ragan: Instructional Design