Expecting the unexpected: A collaborative autoethnography of instructors ’ experiences teaching advanced instructional design

A couple of years ago I wanted to take a deeper dive into instructional design education. Interestingly, most research on ID education has taken place in introductory courses. So we don’t know a lot about more advanced design teaching or learning. Nor have we any really good, qualitative studies of the ID education experience. This article is the first to come out of my inquiry into these kind of issues, conducted with two colleagues who teach advanced ID. This article focuses on teachers and teaching. Our data set includes a lot of information from the student perspective as well, which we will analyze for future articles.


Most of the prior research concerning instructional design (ID) education has taken place in the context of introductory courses. However, teaching advanced ID students differs from teaching novices because advanced students are capable of independent action, but also still need some targeted instruction to develop their own design skills and identities. To increase understanding of advanced ID education, we conducted this collaborative autoethnography of teaching advanced ID courses. Through autoethnographic reflections from two advanced ID instructors, supplemented by interviews conducted by a third researcher, and jointly analyzed by our research team, we studied some of the work involved in teaching advanced ID stu‑ dents. We identified three themes through our study. Advanced ID instructors: (a) helped students reflect on design; (b) helped students recognize and adapt to design challenges; and (c) balanced direct instruction with guidance and coaching. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for other advanced ID educators.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive


McDonald, J. K., Stefaniak, J. & Rich, P. J. (2022). Expecting the unexpected: A collaborative autoethnography of instructors’ experiences teaching advanced instructional design. TechTrends, 66(1), 90-101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-021-00677-7

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