Charles Reigeluth

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Charles M. Reigeluth is an American educational theorist, researcher, and reformer.

Reigeluth is an educational theorist and researcher who focuses on instructional design theories and systemic transformation of educational systems, transforming from the teacher-centered paradigm founded in time-based student progress to the learner-centered paradigm founded in competency-based student progress. He has a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Instructional Psychology from Brigham Young University. He is a professor emeritus at the Instructional Systems Technology Department at Indiana University, and is a former chairman of the department.[1]

Reigeluth is best known for his three edited volumes on Instructional-Design Theories and Models,[2][3][4] which provide descriptions of a wide variety of instructional-design theories by the creators of those theories, along with chapters by Reigeluth on the nature of instructional-design theories and the theory-building process. Design theories are different from descriptive theories in that they are goal oriented, offering guidance about which methods should be used to achieve different kinds of goals in different situations - what Herbert Simon referred to as a "design science".[5] These three volumes have several uncommon elements, including a foreword for every theory chapter that outlines the theory’s goals, values, and methods, and editor’s notes that compare aspects of each theory with other theories. Volume I, subtitled An Overview of their Current Status, was published in 1983. Volume II, subtitled A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, was published in 1999. And Volume III, subtitled Building a Common Knowledge Base, was published in 2009. Reigeluth asserted that the primary goal of instructional design is enhancing human learning and development (1999, p. ix).

Reigeluth is the creator of an instructional design theory called Elaboration Theory,[6][7][8] in which content to be learned is arranged so that simpler yet more general concepts, principles, and competencies build up to progressively narrower and more detailed elaborations, thereby placing new content in a meaningful context,[9] consistent with schema theory. Regarding competencies, Elaboration Theory offers guidance for sequencing instruction in complex cognitive tasks, called the Simplifying Conditions Method. It entails teaching the simplest real-world version of a task until it is mastered, and then moving to progressively more complex versions of the task, so that new skills are learned within a meaningful context.

Another instructional-design theory developed by Reigeluth is Simulation Theory,[10] which offers guidance for the design of three parts of a simulation: the scenario, the underlying model, and the instructional overlay. The theory focuses on the instructional overlay, offering a general model and variations on the general model. The general model offers prescriptions for the design of the introduction, acquisition, application, and assessment activities of simulations and for dealing with the issue of control (by the system or learner). Variations on the general model are based on the nature of the behavior being taught (using procedures, process principles, or causal principles), complexity of the content, form of learner participation, form of changes being simulated (physical or non-physical), and motivational requirements.

Reigeluth's findings over 20 years of research on systemic transformation of educational systems are summarized in his book, Reinventing Schools: It's Time to Break the Mold,[11] coauthored with Jennifer Karnopp (2013, Rowman & Littlefield). The book presents strong evidence that paradigm change, rather than piecemeal reforms, are needed in educational systems at this point in the history of societal evolution; it presents a description of what the new (learner-centered rather than teacher-centered) paradigm is like; it describes three school systems that embody the new paradigm (and lists 145 additional school systems that are well into the new paradigm); and it describes how to help school systems transform to the new paradigm, including what governments can and should do.

Reigeluth led a research team at Indiana University to investigate the technology requirements for the learner-centered paradigm of education. It identified four major functions for technology:[12][13] 1) recordkeeping for student learning, to keep track of the individual competencies met by each student, 2) planning for student learning, to help each student set their career and short-term learning goals, select appropriate projects through which to meet those goals, select teammates for collaborating on those projects, and create a learning contract, 3) instruction for student learning, to provide an immersive project environment (simulation or virtual world) with just-in-time instructional support (similar to the tutorials and practice provided by the Khan Academy), and 4) assessment for and of student learning, fully integrated with the instructional support (similar to the Khan Academy), to ensure every student has mastered the competencies associated with each project. These functions should all be seamlessly integrated in a technology system, allowing the teacher to focus more on social, emotional, and character development. The research team also proposed that the system be much like a smartphone operating system that allows third parties to develop “apps” for any or all of the four functions as long as they meet requirements for interoperability. And the interface should be customizable by students, teachers, and parents.

To address the lack of relevance of most educational research to improving educational practice, Reigeluth developed a research method called Formative Research,[14][15] a kind of what later came to be called Design-Based Research, to improve the usefulness of instructional-design theory. It is a kind of action research and case-study research that identifies which methods work well in different situations, which ones do not work well in different situations, and how to improve the methods used in different situations.

Reigeluth has authored or edited 10 books and over 150 journal articles and book chapters. Four of his books have received “outstanding book” awards from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). In 2002 he received the Honored Alumni Award from Brigham Young University's School of Education, and in 2001 he received the Distinguished Service Award from AECT.[16]

Books he has written include:

  • Instructional Design Theories and Models, Volumes I,[17] II[18] and III[19]
  • Instructional Theories in Action"[20]
  • "Extended Task Analysis Procedure"[21]
  • "Instructional Design Strategies and Tactics"[22]
  • Comprehensive Systems Design: A New Educational Technology[23]
  • "Systemic Change in Education[24]
  • "Systemic Restructuring in Education: A Selected Bibliography"[25]
  • "Reinventing Schools: It's Time to Break the Mold"[26]


  1. ^ "Charles M. Reigeluth Biography". Indiana University. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Reigeluth, edited by Charles M. (1983). Instructional-design theories and models : an overview of their current status (12th printing. ed.). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-89859-275-5. 
  3. ^ Reigeluth, edited by Charles M.; Carr-Chellman, Alison (2009). Instructional-design theories and models. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-8058-6456-3. 
  4. ^ Reigeluth, edited by Charles M. (1999). Instructional-design theories and models : vol. 2, a new paradigm of instructional theory (reprinted ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-2859-1. 
  5. ^ Simon, H. A. (1996). The sciences of the artificial (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  6. ^ Reigeluth, C.M. (Draft). Elaboration Theory: Scope and sequence decisions for quality instruction.!pubsinsttheor/c22eq (bottom of page)
  7. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (2007). Order, first step to mastery: An introduction to sequencing in instructional design. In F. Ritter, J. Nerb, E. Lehtinen & T. O’Shea (Eds.), In order to learn: How the sequence of topics influences learning (pp. 19-40). New York: Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (1999). The elaboration theory: Guidance for scope and sequence decisions. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. II, pp. 425-453). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  9. ^ "Reigeluth's Elaboration Theory". Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., & Schwartz, E. (1989). An instructional theory for the design of computer-based simulations. Journal of Computer-Based Instruction, 16(1), 1-10.
  11. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., & Karnopp, J. R. (2013). Reinventing schools: It’s time to break the mold. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. (see
  12. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., Watson, S. L., Watson, W. R., Dutta, P., Chen, Z., & Powell, N. (2008). Roles for technology in the information-age paradigm of education: Learning management systems. Educational Technology, 48(6), 32-39.
  13. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (2012). Instructional theory and technology for the new paradigm of education. RED, Revista de Educación a Distancia, 32. Retrieved from RED, Revista de Educación a Distancia website:
  14. ^ Reigeluth, C.M., & Frick, T. W. (1999). Formative research: A methodology for improving design theories. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory. (Volume II). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  15. ^ Reigeluth, C.M., & An, Y.J. (2009). Theory building. In C. M. Reigeluth & A. Carr-Chellman (Eds.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models, Volume III: Building a Common Knowledge Base. New York: Routledge.
  16. ^ Harata Burgoyne and Laurie Miller Nelson. "Distinguished service award: Dr Charles M. Reigeluth". TechTrends. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (1983). Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  18. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed.). (1999). Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. II). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  19. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., & Carr-Chellman, A. A. (Eds.). (2009). Instructional-design theories and models: Building a common knowledge base (Vol. III). New York: Routledge.
  20. ^ Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed.). (1987). Instructional theories in action: Lessons illustrating selected theories and models. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.
  21. ^ Reigeluth, C.M., and Merrill, M.D. (1984). Extended Task Analysis Procedure: User's Manual. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  22. ^ Leshin, C.B., Pollock, J., and Reigeluth, C.M. (1992). Instructional Design Strategies and Tactics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  23. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., Banathy, B. H., & Olson, J. R. (Eds.). (1993). Comprehensive systems design: A new educational technology. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  24. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., & Garfinkle, R. J. (1994). Systemic change in education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  25. ^ Olson, J., Ryan, D.F., & Reigeluth, C.M. (1996). Systemic Restructuring in Education: A Selected Bibliography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  26. ^ Reigeluth, C. M., & Karnopp, J. R. (2013). Reinventing schools: It’s time to break the mold. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. (see

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