How to Design Instruction to Help Struggling Students

How to Design Instruction to Help Struggling Students


May we talk?

What kind of instructional design do you believe is most appropriate to implement for struggling students’ learning?

As a teacher, I have found that many models and ideas for learning are available for applying; yet, for me, the models that have proven to be helpful overtime are Maslow Hierarchy, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gardner’s Eight Intelligences, and Universal Intellectual Standards.

You may be familiar with Maslow’s and Bloom’s and Gardner’s perspectives and not so familial with Universal Intellectual Standards, neither of which I will explore in this blog due to their common knowledge and their complexity. However, I have applied the models and have been successful using them because the models provide knowledge of how students learn and what I as teacher can do to maximize my students’ cognitive and personal growth.

If you have the time, I strongly suggest you look into each of the model-names I have mentioned above, especially if you are seeking learning designs to use to help your struggling students.

I have recently reviewed another instructional design: Robert Ganges (1985) theory of learning (Have you heard of it?) and am intrigued by his idea that “there are several different types of levels of learning.” Gagne claims that the following categories are major for learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills and attitudes.

He further explains that different internal and external conditions are necessary for each type of learning, that, for example, cognitive strategies must influence new solutions to problems. And his point that students must be exposed to credible role models to be persuaded to exert their best in learning is interesting to me.

I am intrigued by what I already believe to be true and that is students must be influenced by teachers, and I am wondering to what extent the power of influence takes place in the classroom? I am wondering if the lack of “influence” in the classroom may be part reason that struggling students struggle. Is it possible that some students do not learn because they are not influenced to do so??

What do you believe?

I certainly plan to explore more of Gagne’s theory of learning for it tends to connect strongly to motivation, which is an important topic I wrote about in my Curriculum and Instruction book, sharing ideas for instruction that will help struggling students.

Gange’s ideas resonated with me because I believe in his theory of learning yet had not heard of his theory before and am amazed how similar his ideas are to my type thinking.

If you are a teacher or educator and would like to review my ideas on instructional designs, contact me and I will send you a free copy of my book Cynthia Mathews on Curriculum and Instruction (2016).

Instructional designs are important to explore and should not mesh with one unified way of instructing, for teachers understand that the classroom is peculiarly the marketplace of ideas. Any learning design is helpful when students respond to it in a way that they learn.

What do you believe?

What instructional design do you know about that helps struggling students?

Please share.
NOTE: Instructional Designs—
Number one is the instructional design by Robert Gagne (1985) and number two is instructional design by Cynthia Mathews

[Cynthia Mathews on Curriculum and Instruction (2016)]


Instructional Designs:

  1. (Gagne)

(1) Gain Attention
(2) Inform of Objective
(3) Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning
(4) Present the Stimulus
(5) Provide Learning Guidance
(6) Elicit Performance
(7) Provide Feedback
(8) Assess Performance

  1. (Mathews)

(1) Greet Students
(2) Share Learning Anecdote
(3) Inform of Learning Objective
(4) Present Student-Discovery of Objective
(5) Promote Student Creativity
(6) Provide Immediate-Positive Feedback
(7) Require Student Learning Assessment
(8) Present only Passing Grades
(9) Award with Sticker of Completion
(10) Assess Performance

Cynthia Mathews’s instructional design is elaborated upon in her curriculum book.

Cynthia Mathews (2020)





Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.