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Models of training design: performance-based instructional design

Models of training design

Last week we studied the training cycle in detail. One aspect of the cycle is training design.

Training design is driven by underlying models of training which fall into one of two categories: performance-based instructional design and instructional system design. We will now look at each of these in detail.

Performance-based instructional design

As its name suggests, this model is primarily focused upon improving trainees’ performance at work. The model consists of seven specific components that create a framework for training design (Pucel 1989):

  • Programme descriptions: purpose, level and length of programme, its setting (eg face-to-face) and learner characteristics (eg disability)
  • Content analysis: exact content of the programme to be taught
  • Content selection: the processes and knowledge to be taught
  • Content sequencing: the learning strategy (eg order of instruction)
  • Lesson structuring: how the lesson will be structured (eg timing for each session)
  • Lesson delivery formatting: how the lesson will be presented and feedback provided
  • Evaluation feedback procedures development (eg self-checks, questionnaires and observations)

This model provides a comprehensive set of considerations in the development of a training programme and focuses specifically on ensuring the programme has clear aims and outcomes.

It is designed to help learners perform more effectively at work by developing training programmes that consider these seven aspects, the first of which is program description. The purpose of this is to develop an instructional programme that includes programme intent and context ‘with a clear understanding of both the content area to be taught and its educational content’ (Pucel 1989).

This is then followed by content analysis, which determines the exact content of the programme to be taught. Basically, content analysis concentrates on the psychomotor behaviour and cognitive behaviours.

The content selection determines what information is to be selected and can be complex. It should include what the intended audience wants to know and the degree of detail that the intended audience requires.

In content sequencing, learning strategy is important. Behaviours to be taught are incorporated in the order in which they will be taught (Pucel 1989). It must be characterised as dependent or independent.

Dependent behaviours are those that must be taught in a certain order because they build upon one another, or because they are usually performed together. For example, one must be able to ‘operate a microcomputer’ before being able to ‘maintain a database with a microcomputer’.

Independent behaviours are those that can be taught at any time during the programme because they are not the basis for learning other behaviours in the programme or because they are not performed together with other behaviours (Pucel 1989).

The lesson structuring examines the design of the programme content and how it will be presented to the learners, and how it will be evaluated.

This ‘involves the tentative selection of the type of lesson delivery format that will be used to implement the lesson as well as the type of methods, media, evaluation tools, and feedback procedures that will be used’ (Pucel 1989).

The lesson delivery formatting is a step-by-step process for carrying out the lesson plan, how it is presented to learners and how it can be evaluated. The format includes the decision to develop, specific methods, media, evaluation tools, and feedback procedures that will be used to carry out the lesson.

The purpose of evaluation and feedback procedures development is to determine if the lesson has been structured, the delivery format selected, and resource materials are accomplishing the goals and objectives that were established. It takes place through self-checks, tutorial questioning, and tutorial observation. These are aimed at identifying learning difficulties during the learning process, and helping the learner correct those difficulties (Pucel 1989).

Advantages and disadvantages of performance-based instructional design

The benefits of this model include required competencies being made known, in advance, which enables the trainee to understand what is required of them. Similarly, performance standards are explicitly stated, meaning that employees are aware of exactly what is expected of them.

Disadvantages include the model being based on certain assumptions, such as a trainee’s learning being outlined in terms of performance, that learners are active participants in the training, and that they have responsibility for their own learning. If these assumptions are not met, training can fail.

In the next step, we take a look at instructional system design.


Pucel, D. J. (1989) Performance-Based Instructional Design. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill School Publishing Company

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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