“Designing and Instructional Design,” by Gordon Rowland

In the interest of aligning instructional design’s theories closer to its practices, Rowland explores linkages between instructional design and other manifestations of design–from fields such as architecture and engineering–wherein, like instructional design, the “theoretical bases of such fields…have been challenged on the grounds that they fail to account for the complexities and constraints of practice” (p. 80).

He frames his argument with various considerations and definitions of design-as-a-whole. Chief among these is the following:

Design is a disciplined inquiry engaged in for the purpose of creating some new thing of practical utility. It involves exploring an ill-defined situation, finding–as well as solving–problem(s), and specifying ways to effect change. Design is carried out in numerous fields and will vary depending on the designer and on the type of thing that is designed. Designing requires a balance of reason and intuition, an impetus to act, and an ability to reflect on actions taken. (p. 80)

Rowland also argues that “[t]he design process is a learning process,” wherein the designer operates throughout with a sense of “‘reflection-in-action’” (pp. 85, 86).

Concluding his case for multi-disciplinary approaches, Rowland states that “[s]haring of knowledge between design fields, including the field of instructional design, is especially important” in the pursuit of better–and better theory-and-practice-aligned–design (p. 90).