An In-Depth Analysis Of The Dick And Carey Model

What You Need To Know About The Dick And Carey Model

The Dick and Carey model of Instructional Design, also known as the systems approach model, focuses on structured lesson planning. It includes 8 principles to help you figure out what to teach and how to teach it. And the best part? These steps are all connected, with some influencing others. Let’s dive into the analysis of the Dick and Carey model and examine its core methodologies.

History And Evolution

Back in 1978, a book called The Systematic Design of Instruction was published by Walter Dick and Lou Carey. It introduced a model called the Dick and Carey model, which looks at Instructional Design as a system rather than as individual parts. This model believes that all the different elements in the design process work together to produce great outcomes. These elements are context, content, learning, and instruction. According to Dick and Carey, the instructor, learners, materials, instructional activities, delivery system, and learning all contribute to achieving the desired results.

The 8 Core Principles

1. Systematic Design

When starting to create engaging lessons, design is the first thing that comes to mind. The Dick and Carey model urges you to think systematically at this step, meaning that you must ensure each element has a purpose and contributes to the learning experience. This involves having a structured plan for every course according to its subject matter. So, you need to map out the objectives, organize your content, and carefully choose the strategies you’re going to follow during the process. This model doesn’t leave anything to chance; instead, it’s all about planning and having a clear picture of every step you’re going to follow. The result is easily understandable lessons that are enjoyable and informative for learners.

2. Analyzing Learner Characteristics

You can’t create the perfect course if you don’t know your audience. You must thoroughly research and analyze your learners’ characteristics to focus every element on them. First, you should consider learner profiles to make the learning experience as tailored as possible and meet the needs and preferences of your audience. For instance, some learners may prefer visual elements, while others are more focused on hands-on approaches. The Dick and Carey model helps you analyze learner characteristics with three methods. The first is through surveys, where you can directly ask learners about their preferences and current knowledge. The other is through observations, meaning that you should observe them to find patterns like who thrives on group projects and who’s a solitary learner. Lastly, you can review their past performance to see which types of modules resonate with them.

3. Defining Instructional Objectives

Objectives are what guide your Instructional Design process, showing instructors, designers, and learners what they should aim to achieve. But how can you effectively define goals? First, identify the learning outcome, meaning what you want learners to get from this. It can be a new skill, a complex concept, or awareness of a matter. Then, quantify this outcome. For example, if you want learners to understand biases and discrimination, make the goal specific by aiming for learners to identify them, not just comprehend them. Also, don’t forget to make your objectives as realistic as possible. They should challenge your learners but still be achievable.

4. Organizing Instructional Content

To best organize your content, you need to create a seamless flow with lessons that are logically connected. This way, you’re not confusing your learners but guiding them to build a strong foundation of knowledge. A carefully organized course would require you to start with the basics, such as an introductory lesson, and then continue with the core matter while also making certain that each lesson builds on the previous one. Organizing content also involves considering the different ways people learn. Adaptive design, multimodal learning, and personalization are important here, as they allow you to combine different elements, like text, video, and audio, to try and address as many learners’ needs as possible.

5. Selection Of Instructional Strategies

Once you’ve figured out everything, choose the strategy that will help you execute your plan. This strategy should take into account different factors, such as instructional theories and learning models, which will help you design and deliver the content in a way that resonates with your learners. You also need to decide on the delivery model that works best for your learners. Do they prefer face-to-face interactions, or are they more comfortable with eLearning modules or written manuals? Once you’ve picked the delivery model, you can decide how the information will be presented. Use multimedia like videos and images or incorporate interactive features like quizzes and assessments to keep your learners engaged.

6. Development And Implementation

Now it’s time to create the main learning content. This is where you take the instructional strategy and develop the actual material that will help learners achieve their performance objectives. It’s like building something from scratch, and you can either start from zero or use existing materials and give them a new twist. Create captivating visuals, interesting slides, and interactive elements, and ensure that you implement them the right way using the appropriate authoring tools.

7. Conducting Formative Evaluation

After creating learning material, it’s important to make sure it hits the mark before using it. That’s where evaluation tests come in. Dick and Carey recommend using three types of formative evaluation to make sure your content is up to date. The first type is one-to-one evaluation, where you test your material with one individual at a time and spot any issues that might only affect one person. The second is small group evaluation. Here, you test your material with a few people at once and identify common issues that might affect a group of people. The third type is field evaluation, where you test your content in real-world settings with a larger group of people. This form of evaluation can help you identify any issues that might have slipped through the cracks in the previous tests.

8. Summative Evaluation

According to Dick and Carey’s model, the design process actually concludes at the previous step. This step, though, is a post-implementation evaluation of the effectiveness of the learning experience. This is usually handled by an independent evaluator, who takes a closer look at how well the instructional program worked and whether it achieved its intended goals and objectives. So, this stage is all about collecting and analyzing data to figure out how well your program works. This might involve getting feedback from learners, looking at test scores, or conducting surveys and interviews with stakeholders. The ultimate goal here is to identify areas for improvement and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the success of your future efforts.


One of the primary advantages of implementing the Dick and Carey model is its detailed breakdown of the design and development processes. Its many steps can be particularly helpful for Instructional Designers who are new to the field, as it gives professionals plenty of opportunities to reflect on their work and keep improving as they go along.

If you’re looking for more ID inspiration, check out our Instructional Design Models And Theories timeline.

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