Instructional Science

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 217–235

Elaboration theory and cognitive psychology


  • M. David Merrill
    • Department of Instructional TechnologyUniversity of Southern California
  • Jeffrey C. Kelety
    • Department of Instructional TechnologyUniversity of Southern California
  • Brent Wilson
    • Brigham Young University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00139800

Cite this article as:
Merrill, M.D., Kelety, J.C. & Wilson, B. Instr Sci (1981) 10: 217. doi:10.1007/BF00139800


Increasingly, instructional literature is pointing out the need for theories of instruction which are consistent with emerging cognitive psychology. Theory construction of this sort entails taking into account developing notions of the learner as a processor of information rather than a respondent to stimuli. The purpose of this article is to describe a recent instructional effort, referred to as the Elaboration Theory of Instruction (ETI), and chart its correspondence with several major principles drawn from contemporary cognitive psychology. The ETI incorporates models for both the sequencing and structuring of subject matter. The article will show how these components relate to current models of knowledge representation, schema theory, memory processes such as storage and retrieval, and earlier cognitive based instructional frameworks.

Copyright information

© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company 1981