Preparing instructional design students for reflective practice


instructional design; reflective practice; instructional design education


Typically, the formal processes, frameworks, and theories that characterize the field of instructional design and technology provide only a starting point in the work of expert practitioners. Professional designers tend to base decisions on reservoirs of prior experience and practical judgment that are flexible and adaptable, and that allow them to cope with the variability, nuance, and paradoxes that characterize authentic working conditions. In the literature this is known as reflective practice, or being a reflective practitioner. Given the importance of these capacities in instructional design, especially when solving the difficult problems that designers often face, helping students develop into reflective practitioners should be a key outcome of instructional design education. My purpose in this chapter is to provide guidance to instructional design educators in pursuit of this goal. I do this by reviewing the importance of reflective practice within professional contexts, and by describing strategies educators can use to help their students nurture the dispositions associated with reflective practice.

Original Publication Citation

McDonald, J. K. (2022). Preparing instructional design students for reflective practice. In Stefaniak, J. E., & Reese, R. M. (Eds.), The instructional design trainer’s guide: Authentic practices and considerations for mentoring for ID and ed tech professionals. Routledge.

Document Type

Book Chapter

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David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor