CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Engineering and Computing


Martha Snyder

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Gertrude Abramson


adult learning, curriculum and instruction, educational technology, instructional design, phenomenology, project management


The ability to effectively manage learning design projects, consult with stakeholders (such as sponsors, subject matter experts, and learners), and direct projects to completion is a vital part of an instructional designer’s role. Although the need for project management education and experience is reiterated in the literature and in cross-industry instructional designer (ID) job postings, it was unclear how these professionals acquired and used project management skills and tools in their profession because project management is not a focus in many higher education programs intended to prepare instructional designers.

The goal of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of practicing instructional designers as project managers. Results describe how instructional designers practice project management and the best practices, models, methods, tools, and technologies that they use to acquire and apply project management knowledge and skills in their learning design projects. Five themes emerged from the analysis: ID/Project Management (PM) Background, PM Role Characteristics, PM Challenges, PM Insights, and PM Recommendations. During the analysis process, 14 codes (each corresponding to a theme) were exposed. The ID/PM Background theme consisted of ID/PM-related Experience, PM Preparation, and PM Competencies. PM Role Characteristics included Primary Responsibilities, Models Used, and Tools Used. PM Challenges encompassed the PM Challenges and Avoid/Overcome PM Challenges codes. PM Insights comprised PM Preparation Feelings, PM Experience Feelings, and PM Models/Tools Feelings. The theme, PM Recommendations, included codes for PM Preparation Recommendations, PM Model/Tool Recommendations, and PM Recommendations. An examination of themes that emerged from the instructional designers’ stories, along with an exploration of the research questions yielded important findings. The study offers recommendations for academia and industry for preparing instructional designers to manage their projects in professional practice.