Reigeluth, Charles

Charles Reigeluth, Ph. D.

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Charles Reigeluth is currently a professor at Indiana University. He earned his B.A. in Economics in 1969 from Harvard University and earned his Ph. D. in Instructional Psychology from Brigham Young University in 1977.   On his website he describes himself as “I engage in service and research on how to help school districts and their communities to engage in successful change processes and on the best available methods of instruction for meeting individual learners’ needs. I also teach courses on those subjects” He is also facilitating a systemic transformation process in a cooperating school district.

Charles Reigeluth has founded the theory of and taught the principals of instructional design at Indiana University and at Syracuse University. He has also authored numerous books, chapters in books, and journal articles concerning instructional design and systemic change. Charles Regeluth’s continued research has impacted the way educators and society views the learning process.

What is Instructional Design?

Instructional Design theory is a twin pronged instrument for facilitating learning and human development. He contends that the methods of instruction and situations for learning are essential for learning to take place. Charles Reigeluth has a web-site dedicated to informing educators of Instructional Design and the basic methods of instruction. In the website he describes 8 modules. Within the eight modules, he breaks down the basic methods of instruction to illustrate what is actually being learned and how to facilitate learning. Understanding how we design our instruction and what is being learned will help develop the skills needed to improve the quality of instruction. In his modules he covers the different kinds of learning, the invariant task, like rote memory, classification of concepts, using procedures, using principals, teaching for understanding, generic skills, like a applicable skill, and attitudes.  Reigeluth’s research has lead educators towards chunking information to be learned into smaller parts and scaffolding concepts.

Reigeluth's (1999) model is illustrated.

Figure 1 - Reigeluth's components of instructional-design theories

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 Instructional System Design Concept Map

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What is Elaboration Theory?

Elaboration theory is another theory from Charles Reigeluth. He believes instruction should be organized in an increasing order of complexity where the simplest concepts are taught first, and then the topic is elaborated into more complex concepts. The teacher is to develop an environment for the student to review concepts, expand on them, and enable the learner to create a meaningful context for the concepts which can be assimilated and applied to other situations.

There are seven components: 1. An elaborative sequence

                                                2. Learning perquisite sequences

                                                3. Summary

                                                4. Synthesis

                                                5. Analogies

                                                6. Cognitive strategies

                                                7. Learner control       

More indepth information on each is available at

In an article by Reigeluth he contends “It is claimed that the elaboration approach results in the formation of more stable cognitive structures and therefore better retention and transfer, increased learner motivation through the creation of meaningful learning contexts, and the provision of information about the content that allows informed learner control. Elaboration theory is an extension of the work of Ausubel (advance organizers) and Bruner (spiral curriculum).” More information is available in the article: Learning – also has a summary.



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Charles Reigeluth and the Systemic Change Effort

In 2001, Charles Reigeluth and a team of Indiana University facilitators have teamed up with the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township to start a Systemic Change Effort. The district wide transformation process enlists the assistance of the entire community, including businesses.

 Systemic Change is a theory that argues society cannot change education with a singular change. Changes must be made coherently and cooperatively throughout the system. The local businesses are encouraged to also be involved because the businesses will depend on the adequate education of the entering workforce and are directly affected by education. The Systemic Change Effort will transition the focuses of schools from industrial workforce into an informational workforce.

Teachers, in this effort, were given a reading list to educate themselves on the transition. Many of the documents were authored or co-authored by Charles Reigeluth. The progress and study on the Systemic Change Effort still continues.


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More information about the “what and why” of systemic change may be answered by visiting the website.

For even more information on Journey Towards Excellence Project: A Systemic Change Effort…

Prior to the project starting, Charles Reigeluth had done extensive research developing the systemic change theory. In 1994, with Robert J. Garfinkle, Reigeluth co-authored Systemic Change in Education. A small portion is available on the Indiana Univeristy website.

Kurk D. Squire and Charles Reigeluth co-authored an article in educational Horizons in 2000 on Systemic Change as well. It covers each aspect.




Charles M. Reigeluth. (2010) Indiana University Bloomington School of Education.  Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Clark, Don. (2004) Big Dog & Little Dog Performance Juxtaposition. Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Constructivist Theory (J. Bruner). Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Elaboration Theory (C. Reigeluth). Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

 Elaboration  Theory (Reigeluth). (2008) Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Research for Charles M. Reigeluth. (2010) Indiana University Bloomington School of Education.  Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Reigeluth, Charles M. (1999) Instructional Design Theories Site. Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from

Reigeluth, Charles M. Ph. D. (2008) Journey Toward Excellence: A Systemic Change Effort in the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township. Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from & & &

Subsumption Theory (D. Ausubel) Retrieved on June 21, 2010 from