Step 8: Select the learning activities, materials and approach(es) and create the instructional strategy

An instructional strategy is a written document that describes a plan for the learning intervention. The strategy guides the development of the learning materials, the implementation of the intervention and the evaluation plan. Create the strategy on the basis of the work done in the first steps of the Learning for Performance process.

Start by selecting learning activities, materials, and approach(es) that are suited to the learning objectives and that take into consideration the resources and requirements and the characteristics of learners and the work site. Then add the other components of the instructional strategy as described in the process below.


Continue filling out Tool #9 Instructional Planning Worksheet to record your selection of learning activities, materials and approach. Use Tool #10 for the Instructional Program Overview Worksheet.

  1. Examine each skill and knowledge learning objective and decide which learning activities are the most appropriate to facilitate achieving that learning objective.

    Learning activities with the features listed below encourage learning:
    • The activity is appropriate to the skill or knowledge described in the objective. (See Box 14)
    • The activity allows enough practice and feedback to develop the skill level required. Development of proficiency (performance to a high quality standard in a variety of circumstances) requires more practice than developing competency (skills are performed correctly during training with an opportunity for further practice to master the skill on-the-job).
    • The activity allows learners to work with new information or situations.
    • The activities require learners to use the skills and knowledge they are learning in the environment where they work or in a very similar environment.
    • Learners have many opportunities to practice solving problems.
    • Learners receive specific feedback as soon as practical after performing a skill and have an opportunity to immediately correct any mistakes.
    • Learners are encouraged to take responsibility by monitoring and assessing their own learning.

Box 14: Selecting learning activities
Type of skill or knowledge Examples Suggested learning activities
Motor skill Place a speculum so the cervix can be seen.

Clamp and then cut the umbilical cord.
  • Live demonstration
  • Videotaped live demonstration or animation
  • Simulation with anatomical models and equipment
  • Guided practice with clients
Information Identify advantages and disadvantages of the IUD.

Identify dose and timing for childhood immunizations.

Describe danger signs to watch for during labor and delivery.
  • Studying learning materials (books, manuals, charts, slides, e-learning program)
  • Listening to a presentation/lecture
  • Referring to a job/memory aid or service protocols
  • Group project (e.g., read, discuss and report)
Decision-making or problem-solving skills Decide whether lab tests are needed based on history, examinations and standards.

Identify when labor is not progressing and referral to a hospital is necessary.
  • Discussions leading to making consensus decisions or actual decision making with supervision as appropriate
  • Case studies
  • Guided learning experiments
  • Problem-solving exercises
  • Clinical exercises
  • Making an action plan
  • Learning journal or diary
Interpersonal skills and other behaviors that are based on attitudes Behaviors that are based on showing respect for all clients and clients' rights, such as:

Ensure the client is comfortably seated and that privacy is maintained.

Tell adolescents and unmarried women about the need to use dual protection.

Counsel sexually active adolescents on options to avoid getting STIs.

Encourage the client to ask any unanswered questions.
  • Guided reflection based on personal experience
  • Group activities about values and attitudes
  • Respected guest speakers
  • Brainstorming
  • Discussion
  • Role play

Changing behaviors affected by attitudes may require several interventions, not just a learning intervention. For example, supervision checklists and standards may need to be updated.
Adapted from Gagne, 1988.

  1. Select learning materials to support the learning activities, based on:
    • the learning objective and the type of learning activity selected to achieve that objective
    • the learner characteristics (e.g., educational background, job responsibilities, access to technology)
    • available resources for purchasing, producing or disseminating the materials
    • any requirements for the learning (e.g., if particular standards, guidelines or reference information must be used or adapted).

Box 15: Selecting learning materials
Types of Learning Materials Potential Learning Applications
Print Materials

  • books, monographs
  • procedures and training manuals, service guides
  • glossaries, bibliographies
  • curricula
  • posters
  • flipcharts, flipbooks
  • charts, graphs, tables, photographs
  • worksheets
  • self-instructional modules
  • handouts
  • stimulus material such as case studies for group discussions or role play descriptions
  • self-instruction with built-in objectives, information, activities, prompts and feedback
  • learning guides for practicing procedures
  • learning how to use job aids in the form of illustrated booklets, checklists and pocket counseling cards for community-based workers; laminated wall charts, flow charts, decision trees, procedure charts, pocket cards for clinical providers
Real objects, models and equipment

  • anatomical models
  • clinical commodities, supplies
  • clinic equipment
  • skill demonstration and pratice
  • on-site training in using/maintaining equipment
Slides, computer-generated presentations, or overhead transparencies
  • stimulus material for group discussions, e.g., compare normal vs. abnormal, compare changes over time
  • visuals to illustrate lecturette/presentation
Audiotapes and CDs
  • recordings of cases, conversations, interviews as:
    • supplements to print or computer-based self-study formats
    • stimulus materials for group discussions
    • models for skill improvement (e.g., counseling skills)
Videotapes and DVDs
  • demonstration of procedures, behavior to be modeled, case scenarios followed by practice and problem-solving/group discussion
  • videotaping and playback for feedback on performance of trainers and counselors (requires camera as well as video playback equipment)

  • regular broadcast radio
  • interactive radio instruction (through broadcast radio or shortwave radio)
  • convey basic information supplemented by print-based exercises, hands-on practice or instructor-led training
  • interactive radio for seeking and giving advice

(audio-only linkages between instructor and learners by telephone line, satellite or internet)
  • lecture to include with dispersed trainees at remote locations supplemented by print-based or audiovisual materials (e.g., slides) for increased participation and practice
Video-conferencing, computer conferencing

(audio/video linkages between instructor and learners by telephone line, satellite or internet)
  • illustrated lecture to include interaction with dispersed trainees at remote locations supplemented by print-based or audiovisual materials (e.g., slides, videos) for increased participation and practice
Computer-based training, Internet-based training

(on-line learning, e-learning)
  • self-paced learning as primary mode or combined with instructor-led training
  • non-clinical training for computer literates (e.g., management training)
  • practice for diagnostic reasoning
  • combined with email, on-line discussion groups, access to other on-line resources for learning information and advice

  1. Select the learning approach or approaches that will be most effective and efficient for supporting the learning objectives and activities.

    Generally, learning interventions fall into one of five overall learning approaches. These are:
    • Classroom-based learning (with or without a skills/clinical practicum)
    • Distance learning
    • On-the-job learning
    • Independent study or self-study
    • Blended learning (combining several of the above approaches).

    Consider the points below in determining the overall approach:
    • the type of skills and knowledge to be learned and how they will be evaluated and the activities selected for learning
    • the characteristics of the learners and their work setting
    • the resources, constraints and requirements for the learning interventions (e.g., if a learning intervention must fit into a standard refresher training course; if resources are not adequate to develop and administer an electronic form of distance learning or self-study).

    Select the most appropriate approach based on whether it allows for all of the learning activities and whether it allows for enough practice and feedback to learn. Resource limitations and whether other interventions are planned also affect the selection of an approach to training.

    Box 16 provides guidance about approaches to consider depending on the types of activities you have chosen to help learners master the various learning objectives. If you select a variety of learning activities, a combination of approaches may be appropriate and feasible given the available resources. In such cases, a "blended learning approach" may be best.

Box 16: Selecting learning approaches
Learning approach When to use learning approach
Classroom-based learning
(with or without skills practicum)
when learning requires significant face-to-face interaction with groups and/or instructors (e.g., discussion, role play, extensive client contact requiring supervision)
Distance learning
(individual or peer group learning)
when learning and communication can occur in any location without extensive face-to-face contact with instructor or learning peers; can be based on print or electronic media
On-the-job learning
(whole-site or individual)
when immediate application of learning to job performance is a priority; when the job site is equipped for learning (e.g., trained trainers/preceptors, adequate clients and opportunity for skills practice, materials and space)
Independent study or self-study when learner can facilitate own learning with little or no input from instructor or facilitator; when learner needs or wants to work at her/his own pace
Blended learning
(two or more of the above approaches)
when types of learning objectives vary widely and are best facilitated by a variety of approaches that can efficiently use existing systems and resources

  1. Based on information gathered and decisions made during the previous steps, create a detailed instructional strategy that describes how the intervention will be designed, implemented and evaluated. (See Box 17, below)

Box 17: Components of an instructional strategy
  1. Instructional program overview (see Tool #10) includes a program description, learning approach, learning goal(s) and objectives, learner selection criteria, types of learning and assessment methods, activities and materials, duration/course schedule.

Depending on the scale of the learning intervention, you may also need:

  1. Selection criteria and orientation plan for persons needed to implement the training (e.g., coordinators/managers, trainers, instructors, preceptors, facilitators and evaluators)
  2. The training/learning materials and resources needed (e.g., for learners, coordinators/managers, supervisors, trainers, instructors, preceptors, facilitators and evaluators)
  3. An assessment and evaluation plan that describes monitoring and evaluation activities for the learning intervention, including a list of indicators and a description of the types of data collection instruments (See Step 12 and Tool 14.)
  4. A training management and implementation plan that includes an overall work plan and timeline for the intervention development and implementation and a description of the roles and responsibilities and the resources required.

Helpful Hints


  1. Instructional Planning Worksheet -- /
  2. Instructional Program Overview -- /