The Application of Gestalt Principles to Online Course Design, Course Pacing, and Assignment Design

Your Name and Title: Don Larson - Program Director of the Instructional Design and Technology Master of Science Program

School or Organization Name: Full Sail University

Co-Presenter Name(s): Dr. Chris Deason - Course Director

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Orlando, Florida

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s):
* Higher Education Leaders
* Instructional Design Leaders
* Instructional Technology Leaders

Short Session Description (one line): We will discuss how Gestalt psychology principles are being used to design, develop, and sequence assignments, and courses within the fully online Instructional Design and Technology Master of Science Program at Full Sail University.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):
Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that looks at the human mind and behavior as a whole; Max Wartheimer developed the original construct.  The phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is often used when explaining gestalt theory. Gestalt runs contrary to the behaviorist approach to understanding the elements of human psychology; instead Gestalt psychologists sought to understand their organization (Carlson and Heth, 2010). During our discussion we will discuss how assignments and courses are being organized and sequenced using the Gestalt principles of "grouping" including similarity, simplicity, closure,and proximity to build a seamless learner experience as learners move from assignment-to-assignment and course-to-course within the Degree program. When applied to instructional design gestalt theory encourages the brain to view relationships between assignments and how these individual assignments relate to the course, and the degree program as  whole.  The aesthetics and the visual design principles applied to learner's assignments included text and graphics elements will also be discussed. It's our hope our session will encourage rich discussion for higher education leaders and administrators in regards to scope, sequencing, and pacing of instructional content and courses.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

Slideshow URL: 

Program URL:

Carlson, Neil R. and Heth, C. Donald (2010) Psychology the Science of Behaviour Ontario, CA: Pearson Education Canada. pp 20–22.

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