Curriculum Instructional Design: PIERS Planning Process


Designers use many possible approaches to developing curriculum and instructional design (CID).  Often at the beginning, the planning process might be thought of in a simplified linear way.  First, develop content. Then organize it. Next, deliver it. Finally, evaluate the process. 

This figure shows, a four-step staircase leading down from "develop content" then to "organize it", next to "deliver it" and finally to "evaluate the process".
Graphic representation of the simplified linear process from planning to evaluation.

However, designers should approach it incrementally and cyclically.  Thus the design improves over time.  Educators should critically reflect and analyze the process of education systematically. 


The plan part of PIERS focuses upon the teacher and the way he or she envisions the instruction unfolding.  The plan lists goals and objectives for learning related to content.  Designers identify aspects of the learning situation, subject being taught, as well as your teaching style and abilities.  Teachers plan for content, learner experiences, situational variable, and pacing. The plan describes what will happen and prepare for unexpected things in your classroom. 


This phase focuses on the learners and how you can prepare more effectively to accomplish the goals and objectives of the lesson.  The Implementation phase envisions how to teach specified content and concepts.  Then teachers examine the appropriate instructional methods next, designers’ match, and adjust content and methods while considering how the learners will react to lessons.  In addition, teachers must differentiate lessons or use alternate avenues of instruction simultaneously or in sequence.  This must be considered closely when utilizing technology-mediated methods of instruction.


Evaluation asks you to consider how you know you effectively accomplish the goals and objectives of the curriculum.  CID improves when the designer specifies a plan for assessing learners and evaluating the course. Educators need to examine the teaching processes and materials to determine effectiveness. In this way, teachers know how to adjust teaching plans. The context may specify some assessments and evaluation tools to measure learner mastery.   Typically this occurs through the use of a variety of assessments that you are given or develop related to your content and teaching style.  


Reflective practitioners embody the new research-based practice of modern teaching.  Teachers use reflect practice to improve judgment about the worth of information in class.  They examine the impacts of choices as they make decisions.  This means teachers find ways to critically think about your planning and discuss and analyze your choices. Thus mechanisms teachers reflect both in the course and afterward.  They must build these mechanisms into the design. To reflect on your practice as well as avenues to discuss your experiences with others.


Professional learning communities provide essential mechanisms for educators to share and learn.  Everyone benefits from discourse about the aspects of the planning process.  This will improve and increase the quantity and quality of the reflection that is occurring and the effectiveness of planning documents produced.  Sharing experiences and advice from experts build individual expertise.  This sharing allows colleagues to benefit and gain from the expertise and experiences of all practitioners. In the end, teachers put the CID into effect.  The support system built by sharing allows them to have a way to create space for reflection and gain diverse opinions. 

Planning process and mapping

This overview sets the stage for actually identifying where you stand and then creating the map of your course. The CID change as the dynamic document evolves.  The content thus far prepares you to narrow the scope of work.  This provides boundaries and milestones for the course.  There are many challenges but hopefully breaking a large, potentially-daunting task into smaller more manageable units makes it easier to accomplish.


If you want to cite this blog article, please use the following:

Lipuma, J., & Leon, C. (2020, May 6). Curriculum Instructional Design: PIERS Planning Process. James Lipuma´s blog.


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