All effective instruction requires careful planning. Teaching with instructional technology and media is certainly no exception. The ASSURE model provides a systematic approach to guide you through your technology-integration lesson planning. In total, six phases are identified in the ASSURE model: 1) Analyze Learners, 2) State Standards and Objectives, 3) Select Media and Resources, 4) Utilize Resources, 5) Require Learner Participation, and 6) Evaluate and Revise.

Note: The ASURE Model is to be used for a single instructional unit between 1 and 3 hours.   

Analyze Learners

If instructional media are to be used effectively, there must be a match between the characteristics of the learner and the content of the lesson’s methods, media, and materials. The first step in the ASSURE model, therefore, is analysis of your audience.

It is not feasible to analyze every trait of your learners. Several factors, however, are critical for making good methods and media decisions:

  • General Characteristics
  • Specific entry competencies
  • Leaning Styles

General characteristics include broad identifying descriptors such as age, grade level, job or position, and cultural or socioeconomic factors. Specific entry competencies refer to knowledge and skills that the learners either possess or lack: prerequisite skills, target skills, and attitudes. The third factor, learning style, refers to the spectrum of psychological traits that affect how we perceive and respond to different stimuli, such as anxiety, aptitude, visual or auditory preference, and so on.

General Characteristics

Even a superficial analysis of learner characteristics can provide helpful leads in selecting instructional methods and media. For example, students with substandard reading skills may be reached more effectively with non-print media. If you are dealing with a particular ethnic or cultural subgroup, you might want to give high priority to considerations of ethnic and cultural identity and values in selecting particular materials.

If learner apathy toward the subject matter is a problem, consider using a highly stimulating instructional approach, such as a dramatic videotape or a simulation game.

Learners entering a new conceptual area for the first time may need more direct, concrete kinds of experiences, such as field trips or role-playing exercises. More advanced learners usually have a sufficient base for using audiovisual or even verbal materials.

Heterogeneous groups, which include learners varying widely in their conceptual sophistication or in the amount of firsthand experience they have with the topic, may profit from an audiovisual experience such as videotape. Such media presentations provide a common experiential base that can serve as an important point of reference for subsequent group discussion and individual study.

For instructors dealing with a familiar audience, analysis of general characteristics will be something of a given. At times, however, audience analysis may be more difficult. Perhaps your students are new to you, and you have had little time to observe and record their characteristics. Or perhaps they are a more heterogeneous group than is ordinarily found in the classroom-business trainees, for example, or a civic club, youth group, or fraternal organization-thus making it more difficult to ascertain whether all or even a majority of your learners are ready for the methods and media of instruction you are considering. In such cases, academic and other records may be helpful, as well as direct questioning of and talking with learners and instructors or other group leaders. Seasoned public speakers-those who regularly address unfamiliar audiences-make it a practice to arrive early and strike up a conversation with audience members. In this way they can pick up valuable clues about the types of people in the audience, their backgrounds, their expectations, and their moods.

Specific Entry Competencies

When you begin to plan any lesson, your first assumption is that the learners lack the knowledge or skills you are about to teach and that they possess the knowledge or skills needed to understand and learn from the lesson. These assumptions are often mistaken. For example, a life insurance company used to routinely bring all its new sales associates back to the home office at the end of their first year for a course on setting sales priorities. Puzzled by the cool reaction of the agents, the trainer decided to give a pretest, which revealed that a majority of the trainees already knew perfectly well how to set sales priorities. The company shifted to a less expensive and more productive strategy of giving incentives to field representatives who sent in acceptable sales plans showing their priorities.

The assumption that learners have the prerequisite knowledge or skill to begin the lesson can seldom be accepted casually in school settings. Teachers of mixed-ability classes routinely anticipate that some students will need remedial help before they are ready to begin a particular unit of instruction, furthermore, researchers studying the impact of different psychological traits on learning have reached the unexpected conclusion that a student’s prior knowledge of a particular subject influences how and what he or she can learn more than does any psychological trait (Dick & Carey, 1996). For example, students approaching a subject new to them learn best from structured presentations even if they have a learning style that would otherwise indicate more open-ended, unstructured methods.

These realizations suggest that instructors must verify assumptions about entry competencies through informal means (such as in-class questioning or out-of-class interviews) or more formal means (such as testing with standardized or teacher-made tests). Entry tests are assessments, both formal and informal, that determine whether students possess the necessary prerequisites. Prerequisites are competencies that the learner must possess in order to benefit from the instruction but that you or the media are not going to teach. For example, in teaching an apprentice lathe operator to read blueprints, you might assume that he or she has the ability to make metric conversions-hence you would not teach this skill.

Prerequisites (i.e., specific entry competencies) should be stated in the same format as are objectives (described in the next section). In the situation involving the apprentice lathe operator, the prerequisites could be stated as follows: “Apprentice lathe operators are able to convert any given measurement up to one meter from the metric system to the English system equivalent or vice versa with 100% accuracy.” Such previously acquired skills should be assessed before instruction.

Pre-assessment measures, such as discussions and pretests, are also given before instruction but are used to measure the content to be taught-the target skills. If the learners have already mastered what you plan to teach, you are wasting your time and theirs by teaching it.

By analyzing what your audience already knows, you can select appropriate methods and media. For example, if you have a group diverging widely in entry competencies, consider self-instructional materials to allow for self-pacing and other aspects of individualization.

Learning Styles

Learning style refers to a cluster of psychological traits that determine how an individual perceives, interacts with, and responds emotionally to learning environments.

It is clear that certain traits dramatically affect our ability to learn effectively from different methods and media. However, it is not so clear which traits are most important. Gardner was dissatisfied with the concept of IQ and its unitary view of intelligence, noting that “not all people have the same abilities; not all of us learn in the same way” (Gardner, 1993, p, 21). He identified seven aspects of intelligence: {1} verbal/linguistic (language), (2) logical/mathematical (scientific/quantitative), (3) visual/spatial, (4) musical/rhythmic, (5) bodily/aesthetic (dancing/athletics), (6) interpersonal (ability to understand other people), and (7) interpersonal (ability to understand oneself).

Gardner’s theory implies that teachers, curriculum planners, and media specialists should work together to design a curriculum in which students have the chance to develop these different aspects of intelligence. It also implies that students vary widely in terms of their strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas. A school adopting this approach would have students engaged in a much wider variety of methods and media than is typical now. Teacher talk and seatwork obviously are not sufficient. Since students have different mixes of strengths and weaknesses, their progress would have to be measured not by conventional grades in conventional subjects but by growth in each of the seven types of intelligence. The type of individualized instructional plans and records of progress implied in this approach lend themselves well to the active learning methods, interactive technologies, and information management systems.

Learning style variables discussed in the literature can be categorized as perceptual preferences and strengths, information processing habits, motivational factors, and physiological factors.

Perceptual Preferences and Strengths

Learners vary as to which sensory gateways they prefer using and which they are especially adept at using. The main gateways include auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Proponents of the importance of this variable claim that most students do not have a preference or strength for auditory reception, casting doubt on the widespread use of the lecture method. They find that slower learners tend to prefer tactile or kinesthetic experiences; sitting and listening are difficult for them. Dependence on the tactile and kinesthetic modalities decreases with maturity.

Information Processing Habits

This category includes a broad range of variables related to how individuals tend to approach the cognitive processing of information.

Gregorc’s model of “mind styles,” elaborated by Butler (1986), group’s learners according to concrete versus abstract and random versus sequential styles. It yields four categories: concrete sequential, concrete random, abstract sequential, and abstract random. Concrete sequential learners prefer direct, hands-on experiences presented in a logical order. They learn best with workbooks, programmed instruction, demonstration, and structured laboratory exercises. Concrete random learners lean toward a trial-and-error approach, quickly reaching conclusions from exploratory experiences. They prefer methods such as games, simulations, independent study projects, and discovery learning. Abstract sequential learners decode verbal and symbolic messages adeptly, especially when presented in logical sequence. Reading and listening to presentations are preferred methods. Abstract random learners are distinguished by their capacity to draw meaning from human-mediated presentations; they respond to the tone and style of the speaker as well as the message. They do well with group discussion, lectures with question-and-answer periods, films, and television.

Motivational Factors

Various emotional factors have been found to influence what we pay attention to, how long we pay attention, how much effort we invest in learning, and how feelings may interfere with learning. Anxiety, locus of control (internal/external), degree of structure, achievement motivation, social motivation, cautiousness, and competitiveness are variables frequently cited as critical to the learning process.

According to Tobias, “Anxiety is one of the learner characteristics of major importance for instructional concern” (Tobias, 1987). He describes how anxiety can interfere with cognitive processing before, during, and after learning. He also cites research demonstrating that motivational differences can dramatically affect the effort that students invest in a task and thereby affect learning outcomes.

Kuhlthau (1985) has identified the high degree of anxiety present in most students who face the complexities of dealing with information resources found in a school media center. Her work has made many media specialists aware of the important role they play not only in helping students search for information but also in helping them understand, select, and use information to communicate through their term papers, class reports, or other mediated presentations.

Physiological Factors

Factors related to gender differences, health, and environmental conditions are among the most obvious influences on the effectiveness of learning. Boys and girls tend to respond differently to various school experiences. For example, boys tend to be more competitive and aggressive than girls and consequently respond better to competitive games. Hunger and illness clearly impede learning. Temperature, noise, lighting, and time of day arc everyday phenomena that affect our ability to concentrate and maintain attention. Individuals have different preferences and tolerances regarding these factors.

Dunn and Dunn (1992) have developed standardized instruments to measure the learning styles and environmental preferences of learners that cover these and other physiological factors. They are among the best known and most widely used instruments in school applications. Teachers who have prescribed individual learning programs based on analysis of these factors feel that they have practical value in improving academic achievement, attitude, and discipline.

The intent in using information about a student’s learning style is to adapt instruction to take advantage of a particular style. Many students in a class may have the same or similar learning styles. Using learning styles in teaching can be compared to designing a house for a specific person. The components of houses are basically uniform-kitchen, living room, dining room, bedrooms, baths. However, they can be arranged in an unlimited number of configurations. They may need to be structured to accommodate hobbies, individuals with disabilities, or persons working at home. Furthermore, there are many different styles of architecture, colors, textures, materials and so on. An architect skillfully selects and arranges all these elements to meet the needs and preferences of the inhabitants-an individual, a couple, a family. In a similar manner, a teacher chooses different methods, media, and materials to meet the needs of students with different learning styles and physiological factors.


State Standards and Objectives

The second step in the ASSURE MODEL for using instructional media is to state the objectives of instruction. What learning outcome is each learner expected to achieve? More precisely, what new capability should the learner possess at the completion of instruction? An objective is a statement not of what the instructor plans to put into the lesson but of what the learner ought to get out of the lesson.

Your statement of objectives should be as specific as possible. For example, “My students will improve their mathematical skills” is far too general to qualify as a specific lesson objective. It does, however, qualify a goal—a broad statement of purpose. Such a goal might serve as the umbrella for a number of specific objectives, such as the “The second-grade students will be able to solve correctly any single-digit addition problem”.

Why should you state instructional objectives? First, you must know your objectives in order to make the appropriate selection of methods and media. Your objectives will, in a sense, dictate your choice of media and your sequence of learning activities. Knowing your objectives will also commit you to create a learning environment in which the objectives can be reached. For example, if the objective of a unit of a driver’s training course is “To be able to change a flat tire within fifteen minutes,” the learning environment must include a car with a flat tire.

Another basic reason for stating your instructional objectives is to help assure proper evaluation. You won’t know whether your learners have achieved an objective unless you are absolutely sure what that objective is.

Without explicit objectives, your students won’t know what is expected of them. If objectives are clearly and specifically stated, learning and teaching become objective oriented. Indeed, a statement of objectives may be viewed as a type of contract between teacher and learner: “Here is the objective. My responsibility as the instructor is to provide learning activities suitable for your attaining the objective. Your responsibility as the learner is to participate conscientiously in those learning activities”.

The ABCDs of Well-Stated Objectives

A well-stated objective starts by naming the audience of learners for whom the objective is intended. It then specifies the behavior or capability to be demonstrated and the conditions> under which the behavior or capability will be observed. Finally, it specifics the degree to which the new skill must be mastered-the standard by which the capability can be judged.


A major premise of systematic instruction is to focus on what the learner is doing, not on what the teacher is doing. Learning is most likely to take place when the learner is active, either mentally processing all ideas or physically practicing a skill.

Because accomplishment of the objective depends on what the learner does, the objective begins by stating whose capability is going to be changed-for example, “ninth-grade algebra students” or ‘newly hired sales representatives.” Of course, if you are repeating the objective in material written for student use, the informal “you” is preferable.


The heart of the objective is the verb describing the new capability that the audience will have after instruction. This verb is most likely to communicate your intent clearly if it is stated as an observable behavior. What will the learner be able to do after completing instruction? Vague terms such as know, understand, and appreciate do not communicate your aim clearly. Better words include define, categorize, and demonstrate, which denote observable performance.

The Helpful Hundred list in Table 2.1 suggests some verbs that highlight performance. The behavior or performance stated in the objective should reflect the real-world capability needed by the learner, not some artificial ability needed for successful performance on a test. As a surgical patient, would you want a surgeon who is “able to select the correct answers on a multiple-choice test on appendectomies”? Or would you want the surgeon to be “able to perform an appendectomy”?


A statement of objectives should include the conditions under which the performance is to be observed. For example, are students allowed to use notes in describing the consequences of excessive use of alcohol? If the objective of a particular lesson is for students to be able to identify birds, will identification be made from color representations or black-and-white photographs? What tools or equipment will the student be allowed or not allowed to use in demonstrating mastery of the objective? Thus, an objective might state, “Given a political map of Europe, the student will be able to mark the major coal-producing areas.” Or it might say, “Without notes, textbook, or any library materials, the student will be able to write a 300-word essay on the relationship of nutrition to learning.”


The final requirement of a well-stated objective is that it indicates the standard, or criterion, by which acceptable performance will be judged. What degree of accuracy or proficiency must the learner display? Whether the criteria are stated in qualitative or quantitative terms, they should be based on some real-world requirement. For example, how well must the machinist be able to operate a lathe in order to be a productive employee?

Time and accuracy are meaningful dimensions in many objectives. How quickly must the observable behavior be performed? For example, should students be able to solve five quadratic equations in five minutes, or ten minutes). How accurate must a measurement be–to the nearest whole number, or within one-sixteenth of an inch, or plus or minus 1 millimeter?

Quantitative criteria for judging acceptable performance sometimes are difficult to define. For example, how can an English instructor state quantitative criteria for writing an essay or short story? He or she might stipulate that the student’s work will be scored for development of theme, characterization, originality, or the like. A model story might be used as an example.

The important consideration in appraising your objectives is whether the intent of the objectives, regardless of their format, is communicated. If your objectives meet all the criteria in the “Appraisal checklist” but still do not communicate accurately your intentions to your colleagues and students, they are inadequate. The final judgment on any objectives must be determined by their usefulness to you and your learners. Guidelines for writing objectives are discussed in Gronlund’s How to Write and Use Instructional Objectives and Mager’s Preparing Instructional Objectives.

The wording of objectives appearing in instructional materials is often modified. The conditions and degree are often omitted to focus learners’ attention on the specific behavior they are to learn – Instructors may specify their own conditions and criteria (degree), ensuring appropriateness for the students and the subject area.

Classification of Objectives

Classifying objectives is much more than an academic exercise for educational psychologists. It has practical value because the selection of instructional methods and media, as well as evaluation methods, depends on the types of objectives being pursued.

An objective may be classified according to the primary type of learning outcome at which it is aimed. Although there is a range of opinion on the best way to describe and organize types of learning, three categories (or domains), of learning are widely accepted; cognitive skills, affective skills, and motor skills. To these we add a fourth, interpersonal skills, because of the importance of such skills in teamwork.

In the cognitive domain, learning involves an array of intellectual capabilities that may he classified either as verbal/visual information or as intellectual skills. Verbal/visual skills require the learner to provide a specific response to relatively specific stimuli. They usually involve memorization or recall of facts. Intellectual skills, on the other hand, require thinking activity and the manipulation of information.

The affective domain involves feelings and values. Affective objectives range from, for example, stimulating interest in a school subject, to encouraging healthy social attitudes to adopting a set of ethical standards.

In the motor skill domain, learning involves athletic, manual, and other such physical skills. Motor skill objectives include capabilities ranging from simple mechanical operations to those entailing sophisticated neuromuscular coordination and strategy, as in competitive sports.

Learning in the interpersonal domain involves interaction among people. Interpersonal skills are people-centered skills that require the ability to relate effectively with others. Examples include teamwork, counseling techniques, administrative skills, salesman-ship, discussion, and customer relations.

Objectives and Individual Differences

Objectives in any of the domains just discussed may, of course, be adapted to the abilities of individual learners. The stated philosophy of most schools and colleges is to help students fulfill their full potential. In a physical education class with students of mixed ability, for instance, the mid-semester goal might be for all students to be able to complete a run of 100 meters outdoors, but the time standards might vary. For some, 12 seconds might be attainable; for many others, 16 seconds; and for some, 20 might be realistic. For a student with physical disabilities, it might be a major victory to move 10 meters in one minute.

Objectives are not intended to limit what a student learns but rather to provide a minimum level of expected achievement. Serendipitous or incidental learning should be expected to occur (and should be encouraged) as students progress toward an objective. Each learner has a different field of experience, and each has different characteristics.

Course Objectives and Student Learning Objectives

Many often, teachers get confused with course objectives and student learning objectives. Course objectives are broad statements which reflect general course goals while learning objectives are specific statements describing the expected student performance or outcome for a single instructional unit. Writing learning objectives is probably the most important step during the planning and design phase because it will:

  • Direct the overall course design through outcome-based planning
  • Inform students of the expectations for the course
  • Clarify the intent of the instruction
  • Guide the development and selection of learning activities and materials such as textbooks, instructional strategies, teaching resources, etc.
  • Create a framework for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the course
  • Provide evidence of student learning

Educational psychologist Robert Gagne wrote in his book, The Principles of Instructional Design, that we should ask ‘What will the learner be able to do after the instruction, that they couldn’t (didn’t) do before?’ or ‘How will the learner be different after the instruction?’ The answers to these questions will be the foundation of the learning objectives and identify the desired outcome. A well-written learning objective provides a clear picture of the performance you expect as a result of the lesson. Robert Mager (1962) argued that learning objectives should be specific, measurable objectives that both guide instructors and aid students in the learning process. Mager’s ABCD model for learning objectives includes four elements: audience, behavior, condition, and degree (please refer to the project PDF file) . The learning objective does not have to be written in this order and may not include all elements to be well-written. For example; in a college level class the audience may be implied as the learner and if the performance level is 100% the degree is often left off.

Tips for Improving Learning Objectives:

  • Learning objectives should be SMART – specific to a single outcome, measurable, acceptable to the instructor, realistic to achieve, and time-bound with a deadline.
  • Avoid using language that is unclear or cannot be objectively measured. Use action verbs that describe what a student will be able to do after the lesson or activity.
  • Include complex or higher-order learning objectives of what students should be able to demonstrate beyond knowledge or the memorization of facts and terminology.
  • Use learning objectives as a basis for course development. Learning objectives should align with the instructional strategy and assessment methods for the course.

A common mistake made by many instructors is that they likes to use the verb “understand” to write the learning objectives. Please note that “students’ understanding” is not measurable. How are you doing to measure students’ understanding? A better way to write up the objectives is to use some verbs like

  • identify…
  • utilize…
  • classify…
  • analyze…
  • use…
  • create…
  • design..
  • develop…
  • apply…


Select Strategies and Resources

A systematic plan for using media certainly demands that the methods, media, and materials be selected systematically in the first place. The selection process has three steps: (1) deciding on the appropriate method for the given learning tasks, (2) choosing a media format that is suitable for carrying out the method, and (3) selecting, modifying, or designing specific materials within that media format.

Throughout the selection process, the school library media specialist can be a helpful partner in considering possible methods arid media and in sorting through the particular materials available.

Choosing a Method

First, it would be overly simplistic to believe that there is one method that is superior to all others or that serves all learning needs equally well. As mentioned, any given lesson will probably incorporate two or more methods to serve different purposes at different points in the progression of the lesson. For example, one might conduct a simulation activity to gain attention and arouse interest at the beginning of the lesson, then use a demonstration to present new information, and then arrange drill-and-practice activities to provide practice in the new skill. As indicated earlier, teachers often structure assignments to allow students with different preferred learning styles to pursue their individual practice through different methods (e.g., having abstract random” thinkers use a role-play simulation while “concrete sequential” thinkers use a lab manual for structured problem solving). It is beyond the scope of this book to give detailed guidelines on choosing methods.

Choosing a Media Format

A media format is the physical form in which a message is incorporated and displayed. Media formats include, for example, flip charts (still images and text), slides (projected still images), audio (voice and music), video (moving images on a TV screen), and computer multimedia (graphics, text, and moving images on a monitor). Each has different strengths and limitations in terms of the types of messages that can be recorded and displayed. Choosing a media format can be a complex task considering the vast array of media available, the variety of learners, and the many objectives to be pursued. Over the years many different formulas have been proposed for simplifying the task. They are referred to as media selection models, and they usually take the form of flowcharts or checklists.

Within most media selection models the instructional situation or setting (e.g., large group, small group, or self-instruction), learner variables (e.g., reader, nonreader, or auditory preference), and the nature of the objective (e.g.,cognitive, affective skill, or interpersonal) must be considered against the presentational capabilities of each of the media formats (e.g., still visuals, motion visuals, printed words, or spoken words). Some models also take into consideration the capability of each format to give feedback to the learner.

The limitation of such media selection models is their emphasis on simplicity. Reducing the process to a short checklist may lead one to ignore some possibly important considerations.

Our approach in this book is to give you the tools to construct your own schema for selecting appropriate media formats. We accept the desirability of comparing the demands of the setting, learner characteristics, and objectives against the attributes of the various formats. But only you can decide how to weight these considerations: what options you have in terms of setting, which learner characteristics are most critical, and what documents of your objectives are most important in your own situation. You will need to balance simplicity and comprehensiveness in any schema you decide to employ.

Obtaining Specific Materials

Obtaining appropriate materials will generally involve one of three alternatives: (1) selecting available materials, (2) modifying existing materials, or (3) designing new materials. Obviously, if materials are already available that will allow your students to meet your objectives, these materials should be used to save both time and money. When the materials available to not completely match your objectives or are not entirely suitable for your audience, an alternative approach is to modify the materials. If this is not feasible, the final alternative is to design your own material. Even though this is a more expensive and time-consuming process, it allows you to serve your students and meet your objectives.

Selecting Available Materials

The majority of instructional materials used by teachers and trainers are “off the shelf”–that is, ready-made and available from school, district, or company collections or other easily accessible sources. So, how do you go about making an appropriate choice from available materials?

Involving the Media Specialist

The media specialist can be an important resource for you. You may be in need of new materials for updating the content of a unit. The media specialist can tell you about materials housed in a local resource center or school library media center. Identify and discuss your options. As the media specialist gains a better idea of your needs, arrangements can be made to contact area media collections (public, academic, or regional) to borrow potentially useful materials. Most school library media centers participate in regional cooperatives, which share materials. If you and the media specialist collaborate with other teachers in your school or district who desire similar materials, you may have an easier time in acquiring materials from national museums or organizations. Through the review of selection and evaluation guides involving an appointed group of teachers, new materials may be purchased for future use. Involving other teachers in the preview process also allows you to compare ideas and available materials. Teachers tend to become more critical and selective as they increase their collective knowledge of media and material alternatives.

Survey the Sources

You might survey some of the published media reference guides to get a general idea of what is available. Unfortunately, no single comprehensive guide exists for all audiovisual materials available in all media formats in all subjects; you may have to consult several sources.

There are three types of guides that can help you select media-comprehensive guides, selective guides, and evaluative guides. Comprehensive guides, such as “A-V Online” and Bowker’s Complete Video Guide, help you identify the scope of possibilities. However, since they may include items of poor quality and difficult-to-locate titles, you should use these guides only to locate materials for preview. Always preview the materials before using them with your students.

Selective guides, such as Only the Best Computer Programs, Best Videos for Children and Young Adults, and The Elementary School Library Collection, are a compilation of the “best” instructional materials. An advantage of these selective guides is that time has allowed the “best” to surface from a comparison of similar products on the market. A disadvantage is that during the time required for this process to take place, some items may have become outdated and newer items of good quality may not have been included.

Evaluative guides, such as Booklists, School Library Journal, Choice, and Video Rating Guide, are current and will keep you up to date about new materials. Although they are evaluative, they usually include just one person’s opinion; that person’s needs and audience may be different from yours.

One of the more comprehensive sources is a set of two indexes published by NICEM (National Information Center for Educational Media): Film & Video Finder and Audiocassette & Compact Disc Finder. These do not include evaluations. “A-V Online” is a CD-ROM that lists thousands of educational, informational, and documentary materials along with their sources. The disc includes a variety of media formats, such as video, audio, film, filmstrips, slides, slide-tape programs, overhead transparencies, and multimedia kits.

If you are working in elementary or secondary education, you might consult several additional sources that cover a range of media formats, such as Core Media Collection for Elementary Schools and Core Media- Collection for Secondary Schools. These books recommend specific audiovisual tides as core materials for elementary and secondary school media collections.

For general and adult audiences, a major guide is the Reference List of Audiovisual Materials, produced by the U.S. government. It describes all the training and educational materials produced by the armed forces and other government agencies that are available for general purchase. (See Appendix D for further details on all the reference sources discussed here.

Selection Rubrics

The decision about whether to use a particular piece of instructional material depends on several factors. Recent research confirms that certain criteria are critical in the appraisal of materials (McAlpine & Wcston, 1994). Among the questions to be asked about each specific piece of media are the following:

  • 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?

Over the years, scholars have debated about what criteria should be applied in selecting materials. Studies have been conducted to quantify and validate various criteria. The net result is an understanding that different criteria are suitable for different situations. For example, a remedial reading teacher might decide to use a particular filmstrip primarily because its vocabulary level is just right, regardless of any other qualities. On the other hand, an elementary school teacher with a class that is very diverse ethnically might sort through materials to find those with a special sensitivity to racial and ethnic issues.

Other selection criteria vary with different media formats. Video and film materials, for example, raise the issue of the pace of presentation, whereas this would not be relevant for overhead transparencies. In examining computer-assisted instruction courseware, one would look for relevant practice and remedial feedback, but these would not be expected in a filmstrip. To account for these differences, this book provides a separate Appraisal Checklist for each media format. You will notice that certain criteria appear consistently in each checklist (they are the ones listed above). These are the criteria that we think have the securest basis in research and real-life experience. The Appraisal Checklists provide a systematic procedure for judging the qualities of specific materials. But it is up to you to decide which criteria are most important to you in your own instructional setting.

The Instructor’s Personal File

Every instructor should develop a file of media references and appraisals for personal use. An excellent way for you to begin is to develop your own personal file of Appraisal Checklists by using “Classroom Link.” Each type of Appraisal Checklist in this text has a computer template on the software into which you can enter your own information for future reference.

Modifying Available Materials

If you cannot locate entirely suitable materials and media off the shelf, you might be able to modify what is available. This can be both challenging and creative. In terms of time and cost, it is a more efficient procedure than designing your own materials, although the type and extent of necessary modification will, of course, vary.

For example, perhaps the only available visual showing a piece of equipment being used in a junior high woodworking class is from a repair manual and contains too much detail and complex terminology. A possible solution to the problem would be to use the picture but modify the caption and simplify or omit some of the labels.

Or let’s say there is just one video available that shows a needed visual sequence, but the audio portion of the video is inappropriate because it is at too high or too low a conceptual level or discusses inappropriate points. A simple solution in such a case would be to show the video with the sound turned off and provide the narration yourself. Another modification technique, which many instructors overlook, is to show just a portion of a video, stop the VCR, discuss what has been presented, then continue with another short segment followed by additional discussion. A similar approach may be used for sound filmstrips with audiotape. You can re-record the narration and use the appropriate vocabulary level for your audience-and even change the emphasis of the visual material. If a transcript of the original narration is available, you probably will want to refer to it as you compose your own narration.

Modification also can be made in the audio portion of foreign language materials or English language materials used in a bilingual classroom. Narration’s can be changed from one language to another or from a more advanced rendition of a foreign language to a simpler one.

Video cassette recorders provide teachers with the opportunity to modify television programs that previously were available only as shown on the air. You may also record programs off the air for replay later. You may then show them at whatever time best suits the instructional situation and to whatever student group(s) can profit most from viewing them.

One frequently modified media format is a set of slides with an audiotape. If the visuals are appropriate but the language is not, it is possible to change the language. It is also possible to change the emphasis of the narration. For example, an original audiotape might emphasize oceans as part of an ecosystem, whereas you may want to use the slides to show various types of fish found in oceans. By rewriting the narration, you could adapt the material to your purpose while using the same slides. Redoing the tape can also change the level of the presentation. A slide-tape presentation produced to introduce a new product could have three different audiotapes. One tape could be directed toward the customer, another could be prepared for the sales staff, and the third could be used for service, personnel.

Some instructional games can be readily modified to meet particular instructional needs. It is possible to use a given game format and change the rules of play to increase or decrease the level of sophistication. Many instructional games require the players to answer questions. It is relatively easy to prepare a new set of questions at a different level of difficulty or even on a new topic.

If you try out modified materials while they are still in more or less rough form, you can then make further modifications in response to student reaction until your materials meet your exact needs.

A word of caution about modifying commercially produced materials (and, indeed, about using commercial products in general): be sure your handling and use of such materials does not violate copyright laws and restrictions. If in doubt, check with your school administration or legal adviser.

Designing New Materials

It is easier and less costly to use available materials, with or without modification, than to start from scratch. There is seldom justification for reinventing the wheel. However, there may be times when your only recourse is to design your own materials. As is the case with selecting from available materials, you must consider certain basic elements when designing new materials:

  • What do you want your students to learn?
  • What are the characteristics of your learners? Do they have the prerequisite knowledge and skills to use or learn from the materials?
  • Is sufficient money available in your budget to meet the cost of supplies (film, audiotapes, etc.) you will need to prepare the materials?
  • Technical Expertise. Do you have the necessary expertise to design and produce the kind of materials you wish to use? If not, will the necessary technical assistance be available to you? Try to keep your design within the range of your own capabilities. Don’t waste time and money trying to produce slick professional materials when simple inexpensive products will get the job done.
  • Do you have the necessary equipment to produce or use the materials you intend to design?
  • If your design calls for use of special facilities for preparation or use of your materials, are such facilities available?
  • Can you afford to spend whatever time necessary to design and produce the kind of materials you have in mind?


Utilize Resources

The next step in the ASSURE model is the use of media and materials by the students and teacher. The recommended utilization procedures are based on extensive research, beginning with military training research during World War II and continuing with current research. The general principles have remained remarkably constant. The main difference has to do with who is using the materials. The increased availability of media and the philosophical shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning increases the likelihood that students will be using the materials themselves-as individuals or in small groups-rather than watching as the teacher presents them to a whole class.

The following “5 Ps” apply to either teacher-based or student-centered instruction.

Preview the Materials

You should not use instructional materials without previewing them first. During the selection process you should determine that the materials are appropriate for your audience and objectives. Published reviews, distributor’s blurbs, and colleagues’ appraisals contribute information about the material. However, you should insist on previewing the materials yourself. Only a thorough understanding of the contents will enable you to use the media and materials to their full potential.

For example, a high school math teacher ordered a videotape on fraction-to-decimal conversions. The information describing the videotape indicated that the content was exactly what students needed. Although the videotape arrived ten days before it was to be used, the math teacher didn’t take time to preview it. When the videotape was shown, it met with giggles and laughs. The content was appropriate, but the videotape was addressed to an elementary school audience. The high school students were understandably distracted by the narration and the examples used.

In other cases, sensitive content may need to be eliminated or at least discussed prior to showing the materials to prevent student embarrassment or upset. In one case, an elementary teacher and her young students were horrified to find that an un-previewed and ostensibly unobjectionable film on Canada’s fur seals contained a sequence showing baby seals being cold-bloodedly clubbed to death by hunters.

If you do feel that some sensitive material fits with your objectives, then a letter home is in order. By letting parents know about the material in advance you may avoid potential problems. Also, encourage parents to visit with you and discuss the material., or even arrange a special viewing.

Preparing the Materials

Next you need to prepare the media and materials to support the instructional activities you plan to use. This is true whether you are presenting the materials or your students are using them. The first step is to gather all the materials and equipment that you and the students will need. Determine in what sequence the materials and media will be used. What will you do with them as the presenter? What will the students do as learners? Some teachers keep a list of the materials and equipment needed for each lesson and an outline of the sequence in which the activities will be presented.

For a teacher-based lesson, you may want to practice using the materials and equipment. For a student-centered lesson, it is important that students have access to all the materials, media, and equipment that they will need. The teacher’s role becomes one of facilitator. You should anticipate what materials students will need and be prepared to secure any necessary additional materials.

Preparing the Environment

Wherever the learning is to take place-in the classroom, in a laboratory, at the media center, on the athletic field-the facilities will have to be arranged for proper student use of the materials and media. Certain factors are often taken for granted for any instructional situation-comfortable seating, adequate ventilation, climate control, suitable lighting, and the like. Some media require a darkened room, a convenient power source, and access to light switches. You should check that the equipment is in working order whether it is to be used by you or by your students. Arrange the facilities so that all the students can see and hear properly

Arrange the seating so students can see each other if you want them to discuss a topic. (More specific information on audiovisual and computer setups can be found in Appendix B.)

Preparing the Learners

Research on learning tells us very clearly that what is learned from an activity depends highly on how the learners are prepared for the lesson. We know that in show business entertainers are obsessed with having the audience properly warmed up. Preparing the learners is just as important when you are providing a learning experience.

A proper warm-up, from an instructional point of view, may be similar to one of the following:

  • An introduction giving a broad overview of the content of the lesson
  • A rationale telling how it relates to the topic being studied
  • A motivating statement that creates a need to know by telling how the learner will profit from paying attention
  • Cues directing attention to specific aspects of the lesson

Several of these functions-directing attention, arousing motivation, providing a rationale-apply whether the lesson is teacher based or student centered.

In some cases you may want to inform the students of the objectives. In certain cases, other steps will be needed. For example, you may need to introduce unfamiliar vocabulary or explain special visual effects, such as time-lapse photography. Other preparation steps relevant to particular media will be discussed later.

Provide the Learning Experience

Now you are ready to provide the instructional experience. If the materials are teacher based, you should present like a professional. One term for this is showmanship (see AV Showmanship “Classroom Presentation Skills”). Just as an actor or actress must control the attention of an audience, so must an instructor be able to direct attention in the classroom. Later sections describe showmanship techniques relevant to each specific media format.

If the experience is student centered, you must play the role of guide or facilitator, helping students to explore the topic, discuss the content, prepare materials for a portfolio, or present information to their classmates. Guidelines in some of the following sections will assist students in the production of mediated materials.


Require Learner Participation

Educators have long realized that active participation in the learning process enhances learning. In the early 1900s John Dewey urged reorganization of the curriculum and instruction to make student participation a central part of the process. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, experiments employing behaviorist approaches demonstrated that instruction providing for constant reinforcement of desired behaviors is more effective than instruction in which responses are not reinforced.

More recently, cognitive theories of learning, which focus on internal mental processes, have also supported the principle that effective learning demands active manipulation of information by learners. Gagné has concluded that there are several necessary conditions for effective learning of each type of objective; the one condition that pertains to all objectives is practice of the desired skill (Gagné, 1985).

The implication for designers and instructors is clear. The most effective learning situations are those that require learners to perform activities that build toward the objective. The form of the participation may include practicing new spelling or vocabulary words, solving math problems on a worksheet, rehearsing a basketball play, or creating an original product, such as a term paper. Responses may be either observable or observable. An example of an observable performance is manipulation of task cards illustrating the stages of mitosis. An unobservable performance is silent repetition of phrases heard on a French language tape. In all cases, learners should receive feedback on the correctness of their response.

Some media formats lend themselves to participation more than others, at least on the surface, for example, student response to projected still pictures is easier to manage than response to a video. Learners can read or elaborate on captions in filmstrips, discuss what is on the screen, or refer to other materials while the image is held on the screen. (Substitution of sound filmstrips for silent ones tends to weaken this advantage.) However, learners can also participate in and respond to the showing of a video. Overt written responses during the showing of a video (or any other fixed-pace medium) have been shown to facilitate learning, unless the responses are so involved that students are prevented from watching the video.

Immediate confirmation of a correct response is particularly important when working with students of lower-than-average abilities. For such students, evidence of immediate success can be a strong motivating force for further learning.

Discussions, short quizzes, and application exercises can provide opportunities for practice and feedback during instruction. Follow-up activities can provide further opportunities. Teacher guides and manuals written to accompany instructional materials often suggest techniques and activities for eliciting and reinforcing student responses.

Research on the internationally renowned television series Sesame Street and Electric Company demonstrates impressively the importance of following up a media presentation with practice activities. Research on Sesame Street showed that frequent viewers not only learned the specific skills presented but also had higher scores on a test of verbal IQ and more positive attitudes about school. Johnston pointed out, though, that “parental encouragement and supplementary materials were essential to achieving the effects observed” (Johnston, 1987, p. 44. In the case of Electric Company, children with low reading ability who watched the programs in school under teacher supervision showed significant reading improvement. Johnston concluded that “learning definitely did occur when viewing was insured, and when teachers supplied additional learning materials and helped the children to rehearse the materials presented on television” (Johnston, 1987, p. 44).


Evaluate and Revise

The final component of the ASSURE model for effective learning is evaluation and revision. Often the most frequently misused of the lesson design process, evaluation and revision is an essential component to the development of quality instruction. There are many purposes for evaluation. Often the only form seen in education is the paper-and-pencil test, claimed to be used for assessment of student achievement. We will discuss two purposes here: assessing learner achievement and evaluating methods and media.

Although ultimate evaluation must await completion of the instructional unit, evaluation is an ongoing process. Evaluations are made before, during, and after instruction; for example, before instruction, you would measure learner characteristics to ensure that there is a fit between existing student skills and the methods and materials you intend to use. In addition, materials should be appraised prior to use. During instruction, evaluation may take the form of student practice of a desired skill, or it may consist of a short quiz or self-evaluation. Evaluation during instruction usually has a diagnostic purpose; that is, it is designed to detect and correct learning/teaching problems and difficulties in the instructional process that may interfere with attainment of objectives.

Evaluation is not the end of instruction. It is the starting point of the next and continuing cycle in our systematic ASSURE model for effective use of instructional media.

Assessment of Learner Achievement

The ultimate question in the instructional process is whether the students have learned what they were supposed to learn. Can they display the capabilities specified in the original statement of objectives? The first step in answering this question was taken near the beginning of the ASSURE process, when you formulated your objectives, including a criterion of acceptable performance. You now want to assess whether the learner’s skill meets that criterion.

The method of assessing achievement depends on the nature of the objective. Some objectives call for relatively simple cognitive skills-for example, recalling Ohm’s law, distinguishing adjectives from adverbs, describing a company’s absence policy, or summarizing the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Objectives such as these lend themselves to conventional written tests or oral examinations. Other objectives may call for process-type behaviors {e.g., conducting an orchestra, performing a forward roll on a balance beam, operating a metal lathe, or solving quadratic equations), the creation of products (e.g., a sculpture, a written composition, a window display, or an account ledger), or an exhibit of attitudes (e.g., tolerating divergent opinions, appreciating expressionist painting, observing safely procedures on the assembly line, or contributing to community charities).

The assessment procedures should correspond to the objectives stated earlier in the ASSURE model. For example, assume the objective is “Given a diagram of the human trachea, the student nurse will explain a bronchocele, describing cause and treatment.” A possible test question would be “What is a bronchocele? Describe the cause and treatment in your answer.”

In broadcaster training, the objective might be “Given the pertinent information, the student will write a 20-second and a 30-second radio news story using appropriate radio news style.” The assessment could be “Using the attached wire service copy, compose a 20-second radio news story consistent with the CNN style manual.”

For military training, an objective could be “With the aid of a topographic map, the officer will call for field artillery fire using the four essential items of information in prescribed military sequence.” An oral test could ask: “Tell me how you would call for artillery fire upon point X on the accompanying topographic map.”

Capabilities of the process, product, or attitude type could be assessed to some extent by means of written or oral tests. But such test results would be indirect and weak evidence of how well the learner has mastered the objectives. More direct and stronger evidence would be provided by observing the behavior in action. This implies setting up a situation in which the learner can demonstrate the new skill and the instructor can observe and judge it.

In the case of process skills, a performance checklist can be an effective, objective way of recording your observations, as shown with the checklist for driving skills. Other types of activities that can be properly assessed through performance checklists arc sales techniques, telephone-answering skills, and face-to-face customer relations. During the instructional process these types of activities may need to be evaluated in a simulated situation, with other learners, or with the instructor role playing the customer or client.

Attitudes are admittedly difficult to assess. For some attitudinal objectives, long-term observation may be required to determine whether the goal has really been attained. In day-to-day instruction we usually have to rely on what we can observe here and now, however limited that may be. A commonly used technique for making attitudes more visible is the attitude scale, an example of which is shown regarding biology. A number of other suggestions for attitude measurement can be found in Robert Mager’s Developing Attitude Toward Learning.

For product skills, a product rating checklist can guide your evaluation of critical sub-skills and make qualitative judgments more objective, as in the accompanying example regarding welding. Other types of products that lend themselves to evaluation by a rating scale include pastry from a bakery, compositions in an English course, and computer programs.

Evaluation of Methods and Media

Evaluation also includes assessment of instructional methods and media. Were your instructional materials effective? Could they be improved? Were they cost effective in terms of student achievement? Did your presentation take more time than it was really worth? Particularly after first use, instructional materials need to be evaluated to determine whether future use, with or without modification, is warranted. The results of your evaluation should be entered on an Appraisal Checklist. Did the media assist the students in meeting the objectives? Were they effective in arousing student interest? Did they provide meaningful student participation?

Class discussions, individual interviews, and observation of student behavior should be used to evaluate instructional media and methods. Failure to attain objectives is, of course, a possible indication that something is wrong with the instruction. But analyzing student reaction to your instructional methods can be helpful in more subtle ways. Student-teacher discussion may indicate that your audience would have preferred independent study to your choice of group presentation. Or perhaps viewers didn’t like your selection of overhead transparencies and feel they would have learned more if a videotape had been shown. Your students may let you know, subtly or not so subtly, that your own performance left something to be desired.

You may solicit learner input on. the effectiveness of specific media, such as a CD or videotape. You may design your own form or use one similar to the “Learner Reaction Form” shown here.

Conversations with the school media specialist concerning the value of specific media in an instructional unit will help to alert him or her to the need for additional instructional materials to improve the lesson in the future.


The final step of the instructional cycle is to sit back and look at the results of your evaluation data gathering. Where are there discrepancies between what you intended to happen and what did happen? Did student achievement fall short on one or more of the objectives? How did students react to your instructional methods and media? Are you satisfied with the value of the materials you selected? If your evaluation data indicate shortcomings in any of these areas, now is the time to go back to the faulty part of the plan and revise it. The model works, but only if you constantly use it to up-grade the quality of your instruction.