Action Mapping in Instructional Design

Action mapping is a process used in instructional design to align learning objectives with actionable steps and activities that learners need to perform in order to achieve those objectives. It is a visual and systematic approach that helps instructional designers create effective and focused learning experiences.

The concept of action mapping was popularized by Cathy Moore, an instructional designer and consultant. The key idea behind action mapping is to shift the focus from content delivery to solving real-world problems or performance gaps. It emphasizes the practical application of knowledge and skills rather than simply transferring information.

Here are the main steps involved in action mapping:

  1. Identify the desired performance: Start by clearly defining the desired performance or the specific goal you want learners to achieve. This could be a skill they need to acquire, a task they should be able to perform, or a problem they need to solve.
  2. Identify the learners' existing knowledge and skills: Assess the learners' current knowledge and skills related to the desired performance. Understand what they already know or can do, and identify any gaps or misconceptions.
  3. Define the actions required: Break down the desired performance into specific actions or tasks that learners need to perform to achieve it. Focus on the behaviors, decisions, or steps required to accomplish the goal.
  4. Identify the barriers and challenges: Consider the potential barriers, challenges, or constraints that learners may face while performing the required actions. This helps in anticipating and addressing obstacles to effective performance.
  5. Design instructional activities: Determine the most appropriate instructional activities or interventions to help learners bridge the performance gaps and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. These activities should directly align with the identified actions and overcome the barriers identified in the previous steps.
  6. Create assessments and feedback: Develop assessments or evaluations that measure learners' performance and provide feedback to reinforce their understanding and progress. Assessments should focus on evaluating the learners' ability to perform the identified actions successfully.
  7. Iterate and refine: Continuously evaluate and refine the action map based on feedback from learners and subject matter experts. This iterative process helps ensure that the instruction remains effective and aligned with the desired performance outcomes.

By following the action mapping process, instructional designers can create focused and meaningful learning experiences that prioritize the application of knowledge and skills. It helps ensure that learners acquire the necessary competencies and are better equipped to transfer their learning to real-world contexts.