Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Technologies Division

First Advisor

Dr. Wanjira Kinuthia

Second Advisor

Dr. Jodi Kaufmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Laurie Dias

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Miles Irving


This study examined how the personal characteristics of instructional designers influenced their current instructional-design practice (ID). I first looked at the instructional designers’ perceptions of the relationship between their personal characteristics and their ID practice. I then looked at how these variables were used by the designers to influence their ID practice. The study was guided by the following questions: What specific personal characteristics instructional designers perceive as being an important influence on their ID practice? How do instructional designers use specific personal characteristics to influence their ID practice? How do instructional designers use specific personal characteristics to diversify their ID practice?

Specific personal characteristics included personal attributes such as age, and experiences, including prior work experiences. Personal characteristics were informed by the literature, the pilot study, and personal experiences. This qualitative research study used interviews as the primary source for data collection. The theoretical framework was symbolic interactionism.

A pilot study was used to test and fine-tune the research data-collection methods and analysis. A snowball sampling technique yielded 15 instructional designers working in a higher education setting in the United States. I included instructional designers who did not receive formal training in ID but who obtained the necessary skills to perform the job through experience. The data analysis followed the guidelines proposed by Miles and Huberman, Kvale and Brinkmann, Roulston, and Rubin and Rubin. Findings showed that instructional designers perceived that specific personal characteristics such as (a) gender, (b) age, (c) key people, (d) spirituality, (e) philosophy, (f) formative years, and experiences such as (a) education—student experiences in the classroom, and program preparation, and (b) work experiences—prior work experiences, and ID professional work experiences influenced their ID practice. These personal characteristics influenced the designers ID practice by adding a secondary perspective through their cultural and biological influences, and by directly informing their approach to process through educational and work experiences. Study results showed that specific personal characteristics and experience allow instructional designers to alter their current ID practice, thereby transforming a once-homogeneous process to a heterogeneous one.