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Instructional Design Strategies: Corporate Education

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Instructional design is a method of mapping paths to lesson objectives. It is a tedious task of identifying instructional strategies, measurement standards, driving questions, and essential content that aligns with desired student outcomes. Teachers, regardless of classification, that painstakingly partake in this process improve the level of learning in their classrooms. This process offers teachers a worthwhile return for their efforts, as students are more motivated to engage in classrooms where they clearly understand expectations. This allows proactive teachers to obtain feedback from students early in the session which they use in aligning learning methods with student interests to promote engagement. This paper will investigate how well-planned instructional design that incorporates student-centered learning approaches impacts student outcomes. Our research will focus on corporate education as we examine this topic through the interviews of five business education training instructors. Ultimately, we learn this is a worthwhile endeavor for teachers as they build student-centric classrooms with better student outcomes.

To create effective lessons, teachers devote significant effort into aligning critical concepts with engaging teaching approaches. This is not a spontaneous process, it requires planning and understanding of how different teaching methodologies impact the classroom. Instructional design allows teachers to create a map that incorporates resources, initiatives and objectives to be used as a guide throughout instruction. This guide serves as a resource for teachers and students as they navigate through lessons, allowing for greater exploration of subjects through open-ended critical thinking activities that always lead back to lesson objectives. Tennyson (2002) states, that teachers should clearly identify and define their theoretical philosophy when developing their instructional strategy. Compared to traditional linear learning methods, teachers may find it necessary to blend learning approaches that resonate with students through more social and collaborative activities. Thus, it is essential that educators design effective learning strategies to deliver organized, coherent instructional content that encourages successful learning outcomes for students. In corporate education that primarily focuses on adult learners, it is vital that instructors consider students’ perspectives as their classroom expectations are very different from students in primary and secondary learning institutions.

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It is the teacher’s responsibility to articulate lessons that are engaging and logical. Particularly in a diverse corporate environment, where students may be unaccustomed with traditional classrooms learning. If students do not feel comfortable with the learning environment, they may become less motivated requiring teachers to apply different engagement strategies. Teachers can foster welcoming learning environments by designing instructional strategies to meaningfully engage students using interactive and effective lessons.

For this study, participants were friends and acquaintances that work within corporate education as instructors. They were selected primarily based on availability and willingness to participate. All participants have been teaching strictly in corporate education, without any prior experience in primary or secondary academic settings. The five teachers that participated, varied in teaching experience from 2 years to 20 years. The 20-year veteran also manages an internal corporate education division within a company. Two of the participants are women and three are men, all of whom are employed full-time as corporate trainers. The subject matter taught by each varies, depending on corporate requirements, each instructor is required teach multiple subjects, without any exclusivity to subject matter. Each teacher is responsible for creating instructional strategies and curriculum for each assigned course, unless it is a course that is mandated and pre-designed due to state or federal requirements.

Data collection was through a series of interviews. Each participant was asked the same eight questions through a one on one phone interview. The goal was to understand how each participant’s experiences shaped their responses to questions and discover possible patterns. The data was examined in an interpretive way, based on the first-hand discussions with participants. Since participants were selected from a group of available friends and associates, this sample population is not considered representative of any particular group.

Themes emerged relating to the use of technology, learning experiences and challenges of teaching adult learners. All interviewed felt less prepared to teach without an organized instructional strategy. The teachers all had different responses to the various questions. As far as important instructional tools, they all indirectly pointed to technology as their most important tool because of its scalability, customization capabilities and integration with instructional strategies. Learning management software (LMS) applications were specifically mentioned, including Moodle and Blackboard. Instructional design was of unanimous importance to all the teachers in their lesson development. The newest teacher, candidly shared that when he tried teaching without a prepared strategy, he instantly noticed a lack of interest from students as he was focusing on the content versus teaching. All interviewees mentioned that they utilize a blended learning approach during instruction because of the level of content and engagement required since students not only need to grasp concepts, they also need to be able to utilize them in a practical way. What was most interesting, was the interviewees responses about the best way to engage students and how they determine this. Many unique ideas were mentioned, including starting a class with show and tell, asking for students to share experiences, providing brief networking opportunities throughout the class and incentivizing participation. All teachers agreed that behavior was the primary way to determine student interest.

Conclusion

Well implemented instructional strategies promote student success in corporate learning environments by supporting teachers in aligning learning objectives with student-centered learning approaches. Student outcomes are more positive when students are motivated to participate in the learning process. This promotes knowledge development through more collaborative learning approaches where students can integrate new concepts with existing knowledge through relevant experiences. As we have learned through the interviews of these five teachers, instructional design plays a critical part in creating relevant learning experiences for students. Instructional design allows teachers to build a strategic framework that considers, learning objectives, student feedback, and educational approaches that improve student performance and self-reflection.

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