December 3, 2023

How is the Gerlach And Ely Design model shaping today’s learning?

In 1971, educators Vernom S. Gerlach and Donald P. Ely introduced the Gerlach and Ely design model. It remains popular today, primarily because it can be implemented with limited resources. Instructional designers are able to prepare content and objectives in advance and then dive into the development process because it is a more linear approach. In this article, we will explore the steps of this model and the benefits it provides.

5 steps to follow

1. Specification of content and objectives

In the first step, instructors must decide what specific content they will teach and what goals the students should achieve after completing the teaching experience. This happens simultaneously when content and goals are intertwined. Developers are encouraged to follow the outline or other guidelines and adapt their approach accordingly. They must also explain why they chose the lesson content and how they will deliver it, as well as plan each stage of the learning process.

2. Evaluation of input behavior

At this stage, the teacher must determine the students’ current skills and existing knowledge. Gerlach and Ely explained that the teacher must ask, “To what extent has the student learned the terms, concepts, and skills that are part of the course?” [1]. The teacher can determine the initial knowledge of each student using various methods, such as a pre-test. Gerlach and Ely suggested that the instructor divide the content into sections and give the students a pretest before each section to establish a benchmark.

3. Determining the strategy

The third step consists of five tasks that run simultaneously. The teacher first creates a teaching strategy and decides how much material should be used and what roles the instructor and students will take during the lesson. The second task is to organize students to work independently, in pairs or groups. The third task is the allocation of time depending on the class period and the previous task. Then there is the allocation of space based on the lesson activity to be done and whether the space is available during the lesson. Finally, the fifth task is the selection of resources, which depends on the objectives of the lesson. Materials are considered resources only if they serve a purpose, and educators should consider all available resources before developing new ones.

4. Performance evaluation

The fourth step in Gerlach and Ely’s learning model shows whether and to what extent students have understood the learning material. Teachers can measure students’ performance and attitudes toward content, as well as whether they have achieved their goals and how well they have mastered the learning material. Tests, quizzes and other tasks also allow educators to evaluate the effectiveness of their own approach through self-evaluation.

5. Feedback analysis

Educators review performance assessment results and identify areas of strength and improvement in their methods. The instructor should also solicit feedback from students about their experiences and identify gaps. In addition, a formative review is performed to complete the process. At this point, the educator must provide students with an overview of their overall performance, including where they excel and what they need to move forward.

Advantages of the Gerlach and Ely design model

Increased efficiency

Gerlach and Ely’s design model approach helps educators more effectively deliver quality education by streamlining the instructional design process. By following this model, they can save time and effort while ensuring that their learning programs are effective and achieve the desired learning outcomes. This is mainly due to the fact that it is a step-by-step strategy that allows instructors to be in full control and have the ability to assess its effectiveness at key points in the learning journey.

A tailored learning experience

The model emphasizes the importance of identifying the individual needs and abilities of students and designing learning programs that meet them. This gives teachers a chance to create a meaningful and more engaging learning experience for their students.

Improved rating

Assessment is an integral part of the Gerlach and Ely design model. This allows educators to more accurately identify areas where their students are struggling and provide additional support. However, the model also encourages them to use a variety of assessment methods that ensure a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of student progress.


Although Gerlach and Ely’s design model is a frequently used approach, it should not be used as a panacea. Different learning programs may require different instructional design strategies. In fact, educators should consider combining this model with other innovative teaching methods to create a more powerful and engaging learning environment that leaves some room for students to grow and express themselves in order to achieve the desired academic outcomes.


[1] Gerlach, Vernon S.; Ely, Donald P.; Melnick, Rob (1980). Teaching and Media: A Systematic Approach. Prentice-Hall.

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