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Is Madeline Hunters Lesson Plan

Structure a Unique Instructional-Design

Theory that is Effective in the Situations
it is employed in?
Gabrielle Bennett
Ana Rankin

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Madeline Hunter had a tremendous influence in education by basically re-defining what
teaching was. Her model gave teachers different strategies to help control their classrooms and
their lessons and quickly became one of the most influential models in educational history.
During the height of her popularity, Hunter's Model for mastery teaching was formally adopted
in sixteen states and widely used by many others. Hunter is regarded by many as a "teacher's
teacher" for her ability to translate educational and psychological
theory into practical, easy-to-understand pedagogy,
and her influence on classroom teaching
techniques is still evident in the twenty-first century.
The following excerpt from Stateuniversity.com help us understand
how Madeline defined the 3 realms of teaching:
Hunter defined teaching as a series of decisions that take place in three realms: content,
learning behaviors of students, and teacher behaviors. Content refers to the specific
information, skill, or process that is appropriate for students at a particular time. Content
decisions are based upon students' prior knowledge and how it relates to future instruction;
simple understandings must precede more complex understandings. Decisions regarding
learning behaviors indicate how a student will learn and show evidence of that learning.
Because there is no best way for all students to learn, a variety of learning behaviors is usually
more effective than one. Evidence of learning must be perceivable by the teacher to ensure that
learning has occurred. The third area of decision-making, teacher behavior, refers to the use of
principles of learningvalidated by researchthat enhance student achievement.

In order to be able to comment on the effectiveness of lesson plan, we felt it was

necessary to research existing literature on Madeline Hunters work. To that end, searches were
conducted on the ERIC database using the key words Madeline Hunter and lesson. The
results of the searches yielded links to articles which described Madeline Hunters lesson
structure as a model of mastery learning, a Seven-Step Lesson Instructional Practice, a Teaching
Model, Lesson Plan Model, Target Teaching, Critical Teaching or Lesson. For the purposes of
this white paper, we shall use the term Lesson Plan Structure or LPS, to avoid confusion.

Before we can answer the question of whether Madeline Hunters Lesson Plan Structure
(LPS) is a unique instructional-design theory that is effective in the situations it is employed, we
need to follow Reigeluths (1999) Instructional-Design Theory Analysis framework to dissect the

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model and determine if it has the characteristics of an instructional design theory. The next
section of this paper contains our analysis of Madeline Hunters LPS model.


The main goal of Madeline Hunters Lesson Plan Structure is to increase learning retention
by allowing the dissemination of more knowledge at a faster rate. The rationale behind this goal
stems from the idea that once a concept has been learned, it is stored in specific locations of the
brain, forming pathways. Madeline Hunter stressed that teachers should not allow for learners to
learn concepts incorrectly, because re-learning material or skills would take much longer than if
they were learned correctly the first time. Madeline Hunter
incorporated the use of modeling in her plan to exemplify
critical attributes of the topic of study, and various
techniques are used to determine if students understand the
material before proceeding. After making sure that the
student understands the content, the teacher is then
responsible for assisting students through each step of
the material with guided practice and gives appropriate
feedback. Furthermore, repetition and positive
reinforcement played an important role in Madeline
Hunters LPS, because she believed that they would
increase retention of the information.
This model (theory) is based on behaviorism because of its
emphasis in repetition for achieving mastery of skills (retention) and the importance of getting it
right the first time (errorless teaching). Before the lesson has started, behavioral objectives
clearly indicate what the student should be able to do when the lesson is accomplished. The
objectives could be written in the following format: Students will demonstrate their
[knowledge, understanding, skill, etc.] of/to [concept, skill, etc.] by [activity performed to meet
the lesson objective] according to [standard].
Other values identified in this theory include- students securingkeyideasintheir own
minds, maintaining predictability in the learning environment, active learning participation,
checking for learners understanding, breaking down concepts for ease of assimilation
(chunking), consideration for learners developmental functioning, adjusting teaching and
revisiting presentation of material, tailoring instruction to learners level of understanding, clear
communication, tapping into learners prior knowledge or experiences.
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In order to guarantee the goals of the model, learners should be able to sustain attention while
content is being presented, in addition they should comply with the teachers prompts to stay
on- task. It is also assumed that learners would not present with problem behaviors that would
impede their learning and the learning of others around. Another aspect of the learners
disposition involves the ability to be intrinsically motivated by the nature of instruction.
Madeline Hunters LPS helps in drill practice exercises, i.e. learning multiplication facts,
factorization, handwriting, etc. This model is appropriate in situations that require extensive
repetition practice in order to achieve mastery of skills. It would not, however, be appropriate
for open-ended learning experiences, discovery learning sessions, or exploratory educational
experiences requiring divergent skills. It is also not appropriate for facilitating creative solving
scenarios or higher level thinking activities. In short, this model works best for concrete learning
situations rather than abstract conceptualization or high-order level thinking sessions.

This theory has
specific methods that
are directly related to
the intended goals i.e.,
increasing learning
retention through
repetition. The
methods or steps that
were identified are1. Objective and
2. Anticipatory set
3. Input or
4. Modeling
5. Checking for
6. Guided practice
7. Closure
Following are brief descriptions of each one of the methods within Madeline Hunters LPS.
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2.3.1 Objective and purpose

The objective and/or purpose of the lesson is very narrow in focus. It should be neither too easy
nor too difficult for learners however still challenging. The objective is clear for each lesson,
and is based on content standards; both teachers and learners are clear on what is to be learned
and operate based on the same expectations (what is to be achieved in the lesson). At this time,
the teacher should consider the audience, as well as, what they should be able to accomplish as a
result of this lesson.
2.3.2 Anticipatory Set (orientation)
This is an introduction to the lessons topic, it could be viewed as an opening activity that sets
the stage for the actual lesson. The anticipatory set captures students attention and gets them
ready to participate. Teachers can initiate this by asking questions that tap into learners prior
experiences and are segues for the upcoming lesson topic.
2.3.3 Input or presentation
During this phase, new information is delivered and by the teacher. The presentation of material
should be engaging and thoughtful consideration should be given to the needs of the learners
(developmental, language, vocabulary). It is desirable that new learning is chunked and
customized to the learners level of understanding. The stage summarizes what the students need
to know in order to master the lesson. This is more or less a list of steps the teacher will follow
to present the materials. You can provide this information (or knowledge needed to develop a
skill) through lecture, film, tape, video, pictures, demonstrations, etc. This section is often
prepared as an outline.
2.3.4 Modeling
During modeling, the teacher demonstrates the skills to be learned, while learners hear, and see
what they are supposed to imitate. This activity could overlap with the input phase, and it is
important for teachers to provide good examples, so learners can have a better understanding of
what they need to emulate. For example, the teacher might work a new problem on the board
showing how to reduce fractions, commenting on each step. Or the teacher might show a slide
with a number of ovals and then label the various intersections as an example of using Venn
2.3.5 Checking for understanding
The teacher constantly monitors and analyzes learners responses- which could be given verbally
or in written form. At this point, the teacher determines who is struggling with the material, in
order to adjust, or re-teach the skill. At this stage, the teacher checks with the students for
understanding before proceeding.

2.3.6 Guided Practice

This is a highly structured activity wherein errors could easily set in, so the teacher is very
careful to correct students mistakes immediately. This is a pivotal aspect of the model/theory,
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given that the goal is for learners to get it right the first time. At this stage, the teacher moves
around the room to determine the level of mastery and to provide individual remediation as
needed. As necessary, the teacher pauses and shows the students how to successfully work
through problems as they attempt to do it themselves.
2.3.7 Closure
At this point, the teacher reviews and clarifies key features of the lesson, by either asking
questions, prompting for students to re-cap what was learned (if applicable), and bringing
conclusion the presentation. This section helps organize students learning- it cues the students to
the fact that they have arrived at an important point in the lesson, or the end of a lesson.


Having reviewed the methods of this model/theory, it is evident that the responsibility of the
learning process is placed on the teacher rather than the learner. Strict adherence to the order of
these methods could impact critical thinking on the learners side, given the highly controlled
structure of the lessons.
Moreover, ownership of the content lies with the teacher- rather than with the learner, since most
of the time is spent repeating and practicing skills in order to achieve mastery criterion set forth
by the teacher or educational institutions; hence making this model a teacher-centered theory.
The teacher constantly supervises and checks for correctness in the demonstration of newly
acquired skills, while learners take on more of a passive role by complying and practicing those
skills. Learners have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency during guided practice,
however, the teacher must make sure that learners dont practice the skills erroneously.
The context in which this model/theory is used is highly structured, employing direct teaching
practices to deliver information by the teacher. The content that this model would be appropriate
might include rote activities that require extensive practice or drills such as multiplication facts,
division, factorization, addition, or subtraction.
Throughout all the phases of this instruction model, there is constant interaction and
communication- albeit teacher directed, but it can be surmised that interaction happens between
teacher and learner, learner and content, and to a certain extent between student and student
(during guided practice). These interactions are purposeful, because they revolve around the
goal of the lesson. The types of interactions that would arise from following this highly
structured model/theory would not promote critical thinking or cognitive dissonance among
learners, since it is expected that they follow clear directions from the teacher, and imitate the
skills being taught.
The methods are based on behaviorism learning theory, since the model promotes errorless
teaching, operant conditioning, over-correction and repetition. We also found that the
model/theory advances ideas posited by Jerome Bruner, specifically regarding the concept of
spiral curriculum, i.e., revisiting basic ideas, building on them until the student had grasped the
full formal concept.
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Support is given to learners when the teacher checks for understanding, by continually
monitoring learning. The teacher might ask questions, ask the learners to explain concepts,
check written responses, or observe behaviors. In the event that there is confusion, the teacher
can go back to the input phase and, either re-teach the concept, or provide further clarification.
They key is for the learners to have a correct notion of the skill rather than ill-formed ideas or
incomplete understanding. By chunking information into smaller bits, teachers can scaffold
learning. Scaffolding can occur during the input or modeling phases.
It is worth noting that Madeline Hunter suggested that teachers use a structured framework for
teaching lessons; she valued the freedom teachers have in making their own decisions about their
instructional practices.

According to Reigeluth (1999), an instructional-design theory is a theory that offers explicit
guidance on how to better help people learn and develop. By this definition, Madeline
Hunters Lesson Plan Structure model/theory, is in our estimation, an instructional-design
theory because it offers specific prescriptions to increase learner retention.
Reigeluth (1999), also postulates that the major characteristics that all instructional-design
theories have in common are:
1. The instructional-design theory is design oriented (focusing on means to attain goals)
2. The instructional identifies methods of instruction (ways to support instruction)
3. In all instructional-design theories the methods of instruction can be broken into more
detailed component methods
4. Methods are probabilistic rather than deterministic (they increase the chances of attaining
the goals rather than ensuring attainment of the goals
Having analyzed Madeline Hunters LPS using Reigeluths framework, we conclude that it
meets criteria and it has the characteristics of an instructional-design theory. However, whether
Madeline Hunters LPS theory is, in fact, a unique instructional-design theory is suspect, because
increasing learner retention by way of repetition may just be imitation of skills rather than actual
Madeline Hunters LPS theory has had its share of criticism- for example Gibboney (1987),
refers to it as a mechanistic and simplistic model that does not improve the quality of
education because it stifles teacher and student thinking. From Gibboneys perspective, this
theory is nonintellectual as it promotes passivity in both students and teachers. He further
asserts that Hunter has not produced the research evidence to support her claim for improved
learning. Even some of her admirers including Slavin (1989), have criticized Madeline
Hunters theory for its lack of evidence of effectiveness.
While we agree that the LPS theory might be useful in situations requiring high levels of
repetition (drill practice), it would not be appropriate to implement it in more high-order level

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thinking types of instruction such as creative writing, science exploration, or activities that
require metacognition or cognitive strategy development.
In conclusion, as a response to the question: Is Madeline Hunters lesson plan structure (LPS) a
unique instructional-design theory that is effective in the situations it is employed? we found
that while the LPS could be considered an instructional-design theory, it is NOT, however,
unique since it is modeled after structured teaching methodologies, rather than being innovative
or distinctive. Further, the theory (LPS) might be effective ONLY in situations wherein the main
onus of instruction is having learners imitate the teachers examples via drill practice/repetition
in order to attain mastery of skills.

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Gibboney, R. A. (1986). A critique of Madeline Hunters teaching model from the Deweys
perspective. Educational Leadership.
Hunter, M. (1989). Madeline Hunter in the English classroom. The English Journal, 78(5),
Madeline Cheek Hunter. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2014 from the Wikipedia wiki:
Reigeluth, C. (1999). What is instructional-design theory and how is it changing.
In C. Reigeluth (Eds.), Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of
Instructional theory (pp. 5-29). USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Reigeluth, C. (2006). Educational technology research and development, Functional
contextualism: An ideal framework for theory in instructional design and technology (pp
49-53). Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Slavin, R. E. (1989). On mastery learning and mastery teaching. Educational Leadership.
Wilson, L. O. (1997). Madeline Hunter lesson plan model, or drill that skill. Retrieved
November 21, 2014 from http://www4.uwsp.edu/education/Lwilson/index.htm

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