Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica W. Tracey


For decades, scholars have searched for ways to more effectively teach and practice instructional design. A variety of strategies have been employed to address the ambiguity in and challenges of the field. Much of the focus in the education of instructional designers has been on teaching students how best to use the many models developed for the field (Rowling, 1992). These efforts, while meant to help the new instructional designer succeed, have often been stifled by the ever-changing landscape of what instructional designers are asked to do in their roles after graduation (Kenny, Zhang, Schwier, & Campbell, 2005). Other research centers around the ways students can fuse their new instructional design knowledge with practical activities.

While many scholars have begun to focus on alternative methods for preparing instructional designers and improving instructional design processes, instructional designers themselves have been neglected. We teach instructional designers about the profession before we have truly understood the professional. From a teaching standpoint, this approach contradicts the very foundation of instructional design education: that of recognizing that the learners/users are at the center of instructional design (Cennamo & Kalk, 2004).

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine instructional designers during design by engaging them in structured reflection as (a.) a way to better understand instructional designers in the design space and (b.) a technique for instructional designers to improve their design. Seven designers were asked to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences over six weeks while engaged in a design project.

This study used various data collection methods including reflection journals, interviews, and surveys. The Self-Reflection Insight Scale (SRIS) and REFLECT rubric were utilized to measure reflection abilities, and grounded theory was employed to conceptualize the data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), while concentrating on discovery and the development of theory (Charmaz, 1983).

Results showed that each designer is unique; designers rely on distinctive designer precedents; designers perceive reflection to positively impact their design products; designers' depth of reflection waxes and wanes; and designers reflect more deeply when provided with feedback.