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In the evolving landscape of instructional design, the buzz around ‘Evidence-Informed Learning Design’ is growing louder. This approach, integrating solid research findings into the creation of learning experiences, is reshaping how we think about education and training in the digital age. Let’s delve into why evidence-informed learning design is critical for instructional designers and how it can be applied to craft effective learning programs.

The Essence of Evidence-Informed Learning Design

At its heart, evidence-informed learning design is about making educational decisions based on credible research rather than intuition or tradition. This method ensures that learning interventions are not just creatively stimulating but are also scientifically proven to be effective. It’s a game-changer in instructional design, offering a pathway to more impactful learning experiences that align with how people actually learn.

Why Evidence-Informed Learning Design Matters

In a world inundated with educational theories and teaching methodologies, evidence-informed learning design serves as a beacon of reliability. It helps instructional designers cut through the noise of unproven fads and focus on strategies that genuinely enhance learning. By relying on empirical evidence, designers can create programs that better engage learners, facilitate deeper understanding, and foster long-term retention.

Putting It into Practice: Real-World Applications

Spaced Repetition for Lasting Knowledge

Evidence shows that spaced repetition, where information is reviewed at increasing intervals, significantly boosts memory retention (Cepeda et al., 2006). Instructional designers can apply this by spacing out review sessions in eLearning courses or incorporating follow-up quizzes weeks after a training session. This technique ensures that learners are not just cramming information for short-term recall but are genuinely integrating knowledge into long-term memory.

Busting Myths with Science

Consider the enduring myth of learning styles, which suggests that people learn better when information is presented in a way that matches their preferred learning style (e.g., visual, auditory). Despite its popularity, research consistently shows no evidence supporting this theory (Rohrer & Pashler, 2012). Understanding this, instructional designers can avoid spending unnecessary resources on creating multiple versions of content for different “styles” and instead focus on multimodal teaching that benefits all learners.

Real-World Relevance

Connecting learning content to real-world applications enhances learner engagement and comprehension. For instance, a corporate training program on data analysis can include case studies from the company’s own datasets or industry-specific challenges. This approach not only makes learning more interesting but also more applicable, helping learners see the value of their new skills in their daily work (Herrington & Oliver, 2000).

Feedback That Fuels Growth

Feedback is a powerful tool in learning, but not all feedback is created equal. Research highlights the effectiveness of specific, actionable feedback over generic praise (Shute, 2008). In practice, this means designing assessments that provide detailed insights into learners’ performance and offering concrete suggestions for improvement, rather than simply scoring them. Such feedback encourages learners to think critically about their answers and understand their mistakes, leading to deeper learning.

Embracing the Evidence-Informed Approach

Adopting an evidence-informed approach in instructional design requires staying up-to-date with educational research and being willing to question and adjust one’s practices based on new evidence. It means becoming a lifelong learner yourself, continually seeking out the most effective ways to facilitate learning for others.


Embracing evidence-informed learning design means making a commitment to the science of learning. It’s about ensuring that the learning experiences we create not only capture the imagination but also effectively meet educational goals, backed by the best evidence available.

Evidence-informed learning design isn’t just a theoretical ideal; it’s a practical approach that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of educational programs. By grounding design decisions in empirical evidence, instructional designers can create more engaging, effective, and efficient learning experiences. As we continue to navigate the complexities of teaching and learning, evidence-informed practices will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the future of education.


  • Cepeda, N. J., Pashler, H., Vul, E., Wixted, J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2006). Distributed practice in verbal recall tasks: A review and quantitative synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(3), 354–380.
  • Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23–48.
  • Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2012). Learning styles: Where’s the evidence? Medical Education, 46(7), 634–635.
  • Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153–189.

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