instructional design, instructional technology, design layers, instructional development, design, model-centered instruction, content layer


A model of instruction described by Wenger (1987) identifies three elements that are active during instruction: the mental model the instructor wishes to share with the learner, the external experience used to communicate the mental model, and the evolving mental model of the learner. Gibbons (2003a), writing in response to Seel (2003), noted this three-part description as a bridge concept relating learning and instruction. This view has important practical implications for designers of instruction. For example, Gibbons and Rogers (in press) propose that there exists a natural layered architecture within instructional designs that corresponds with instructional functions. Among these layers is the content layer, which determines the structural form in which learnable subject-matter is stored and supplied to the learner. This may include the expression of the content in terms of tasks, semantic networks, rules, or other structures. The designer’s commitment at the content layer strongly constrains all other parts of the design, making some future decisions imperative, some irrelevant, and defining the range of possibilities for still others.

Original Publication Citation

Gibbons, A. S. (2008). Model-Centered Instruction, the Design, and the Designer. In D. Ifenthaler, P. Pirnay-Dummer, and J. M. Spector (Eds.), Understanding Models for Learning and Instruction. New York: Springer Science+Business, 161-174.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Springer Science+Business




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor