What Is The Gerlach And Ely Design Model?

What Is The Gerlach And Ely Design Model?
Summary: The Gerlach and Ely design model helps educators to create more meaningful lessons, even if they're working with limited resources and diverse learner needs.

How Does The Gerlach And Ely Design Model Shape Learning Today?

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

The 5 Steps To Follow

1. Specification Of Content And Objectives

In the first step, instructors must decide what specific content they'll teach and which objectives the students should achieve upon completing the learning experience. This happens simultaneously, as content and objectives are intertwined. Developers are advised to follow the curriculum or other guidelines and adjust their approach accordingly. They must also explain why they chose the lesson's content and how they're going to deliver it, as well as schedule every stage of the learning process.

2. Assessment Of Entering Behavior

At this stage, the teacher needs to determine the present skills and existing knowledge of learners. Gerlach and Ely explained that the teacher must ask, "To what extent has the student learned the terms, concepts, and skills which are part of the course?". [1] The educator can determine the starting knowledge of each learner by using a variety of methods, such as giving a pretest. Gerlach and Ely suggested that the instructor should divide the content into sections and give learners a pretest before each section to set a benchmark.

3. Determination Of Strategy

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

4. Evaluation Of The Performance

The fourth step in the Gerlach and Ely Instructional Design model demonstrates if the students have understood the learning material and to what extent. Teachers can measure students' performance and their attitude toward the content, as well as if they've achieved their objectives and how well they've mastered the learning material. Tests, quizzes, and other assignments also allow educators to evaluate the effectiveness of their own approach through a form of self-evaluation.

5. Analysis Of Feedback

Educators review the results of the evaluation of performance and identify areas of strength and improvement in their methods. The instructor should also solicit feedback from the learners about their experience and identify gaps. Additionally, a formative revision is done to complete the process. At this point, the educator must give insights to students about their overall performance, including the points they excel at and what they need to work on moving forward.

The Benefits Of The Gerlach And Ely Design Model

Increased Efficiency

The Gerlach and Ely design model's approach helps educators more efficiently deliver quality education by streamlining the Instructional Design process. By following this model, they can save time and effort while ensuring that their teaching programs are effective and meet the desired learning outcomes. This is mainly thanks to the fact that it's a step-by-step strategy that allows instructors to have full control and the ability to assess its effectiveness at crucial points in the learning journey.

Tailored Learning Experience

The model highlights the importance of identifying students' individual needs and abilities and designing learning programs that cater to them. This way, teachers have the chance to create a meaningful and more engaging learning experience for their students.

Improved Assessment

Assessment is integral in the Gerlach and Ely design model. As such, educators can more accurately identify areas where their students are struggling and provide them with additional support. However, the model also encourages them to use a variety of assessment methods, ensuring a more precise and comprehensive evaluation of learners' progress.


Although the Gerlach and Ely design model is an oft-used approach, it shouldn't be used as a panacea. Different instructional 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 students some space to grow and express themselves in order to achieve their desired academic outcomes.


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