By: Katie Merklein


Summary of the Theory:
Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction is a problem-based theory. Learners use four different phases in this design. The basic definition is that the principles of activation, demonstration, application and integration are necessary to the success of a learner. Educators need to show the learners what is going to be learned rather than telling them about it. They also must be given a chance to “do” and practice what they have learned through a variety of assessments and activities. Lastly, students must be encouraged and motivated to practice the lessons they have learned.

How This Theory Can Best Be Used:
This theory is useful to educators when the instruction is in need of a change. At times districts must implement a positive change in response to the level of success their students are having. It is important that teachers realize students need more than just lecture and assessment. This theory is useful for educators who wish to embrace the positive aspects of inquiry, exploration, and success of their students. This approach will result in the students learning, doing, and implementing a lesson topic into their everyday lives.

Strengths and Weaknesses:
The strengths in this model lie in the extreme focus on the learner. The principles are aligned with the learner’s success in mind. The four phases encourage the teacher to organize instruction in a way that best engages and encourages the student in the lesson. The First Principles will give the learner the opportunity to practice the lesson and implement what was learned into future experiences.
Weaknesses in the theory perhaps lie in its inability to exist in all classrooms. The implementation of this theory may be dependent on the teaching styles and environment of the school. If the educational policies of a district lie in the lecture and assess format with little time allotted for exploration, this theory may not be able to be implemented and succeed.


Similarities to Other Models:
This theory is similar to Reigeluth’s Elaboration Theory in the way that instruction should be organized. Although the organization differs, they relate in there are specific requirements to follow in order for the instruction to be successful. It is also very similar to Keller’s ARCS theory in organization in that four phases are defined. The instruction is organized and has en emphasis on motivation, which can relate to Merrill’s First Principles.







This video shows Dr. Merrill personally speaking about Instructional Design.

"A learner’s experience should center around solving a problem and should involve four phases."
Phases / Components of Merrill's First Principles of Instructionexternal image Merril-first-principles-of-instruction.png

[http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/First_principles_of_instruction]
Details of the principles:Activation:
  • Learning is promoted when relevant previous experience is activated.
  • Learning is facilitated when relevant previous experience is activated.
  • Learners are directed to recall, relate, describe, or apply knowledge from relevant past experience that can be used as a foundation for the new knowledge.
  • Learners are provided relevant experience that can be used as a foundation for the new knowledge.
  • Learners are given the opportunity to demonstrate their previously acquired knowledge or skill.
Demonstration:
  • Learning is promoted when the instruction demonstrates what is to be learned rather than merely telling information about what is to be learned.
  • Learning is facilitated when the instruction demonstrates what is to be learned rather than merely telling information about what is to be learned.
  • Learning is facilitated when the demonstration is consistent with the learning goal.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are provided appropriate learner guidance including some of the following: (a) learners are directed to relevant information, (b) multiple representations are used for the demonstrations, or (c) multiple demonstrations are explicitly compared.
  • Learning is facilitated when media plays a relevant instructional role.
Application:
  • Learning is promoted when learners are required to use their new knowledge or skill to solve problems.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are required to use their new knowledge or skill to solveproblems.
  • Learning is facilitated when the application (practice) and the post-test are consistent with thestated or implied objectives: (a) information-about practice -- recall or recognize information, (b)parts-of practice -- locate, name, and/or describe each part, (c) kinds-of practice -- identify newexamples of each kind, (d) how-to practice -- do the procedure and (e) what-happens practice --predict a consequence of a process given conditions, or find faulted conditions given aunexpected consequence.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are guided in their problem solving by appropriate feedbackand coaching, including error detection and correction, and when this coaching is graduallywithdrawn.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are required to solve a sequence of varied problems.
Integration:
  • Learning is promoted when learners are encouraged to integrate (transfer) the new knowledge or skill into their everyday life.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are encouraged to integrate (transfer) the new knowledge or skillinto their everyday life.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners are given an opportunity to publicly demonstrate their newknowledge or skill
  • Learning is facilitated when learners can reflect-on, discuss, and defend their new knowledge orskill.
  • Learning is facilitated when learners can create, invent, and explore new and personal ways to usetheir new knowledge or skills.
[mdavidmerrill.com/Papers/firstprinciplesbymerril.pdf]
[http://web.cortland.edu/frieda/id/IDtheories/44.html]

Pebble-in-the-Pond:
Merrill uses the following diagrams below to illustrate what he calls the "pebble-in-the-pond" approach to design. This is assumes that the "First Principles" are kept in mind and the first "pebble" starts the design and learners are then overcoming each problem at a time before moving on to the next.
Picture-3.jpg[http://www.spencerryanhall.com/?category_name=inst-design&paged=2]
pebble-in-pond1.jpg
[http://instructionaldesignfusions.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/merrills-pebble-in-the-pond-approach-to-isd/]
Resources:

diannerees. (August 29, 2010) Instructional Design Fusions. Retrieved August 2, 2011 from http://instructionaldesignfusions.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/merrills-pebble-in-the-pond-approach-to-isd/

EDUTECHWiki. (n.d.) Retrieved July 30, 2011 from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/First_principles_of_instruction

Hall, Spencer Ryan. (September 9, 2008) Instructional Design. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from http://www.spencerryanhall.com/?category_name=inst-design&paged=2

mdavidmerrill. (poster). Merrill on Instructional Design. [Video.] (August 11, 2008) Retrieved July 29, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_TKaO2-jXA

Merrill, David M. (2002). First Principals of Instruction. ETR&D, Vol. 50, no.3, pp. 43-59 Retrieved July 30, 2011 from mdavidmerrill.com/Papers/firstprinciplesbymerril.pdf

Merrill, David M. (n.d.) Merrill’s Frist Principles of Instruction. Retrieved July 30, 2011 from http://web.cortland.edu/frieda/id/IDtheories/44.html

Hall, Spencer Ryan. (September 9, 2008) Instructional Design. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from http://www.spencerryanhall.com/?category_name=inst-design&paged=2