CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Computing and Engineering


Martha M. Snyder

Committee Member

Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis


Learning design competency frameworks published by professional organizations, exist for typical instructional design efforts. However, a review of literature revealed a lack of frameworks available for the creation of complex learning designs (CLDs). The goal of this research was to develop a competency framework for the creation of CLDs. Quantitative and qualitative methods were employed in the four phases of the design and development research approach In phase one, a survey based on the Educational Technology Multimedia Competency Survey (ETMCS) was sent to instructional designers who self-reported as having experience creating CLDs. The purpose of phase one was to identify competencies that instructional designers felt were most important to the creation of complex, technology-mediated learning designs.

The preliminary CLD framework was constructed during phase two, based on analysis of the ETMCS survey results. Measures of central tendency were used to identify competencies considered essential and desirable. Additionally, competencies were categorized into seven domains In phase three, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a subset of survey participants. The purpose was to gain deeper insight into the participant’s perception of the design complexities involved with each of the competencies included in the preliminary framework. In phase four, the preliminary framework was internally validated using an expert panel employing the Delphi method to build consensus. Three rounds were required to achieve consensus on all competencies within the framework. This consensus resulted in 79 competencies including 30 essential and 49 desirable competencies from the set identified as the preliminary framework during phase two.

Several conclusions emerged from the creation of this framework. Though technology is often a trigger for many types of CLDs, specific technologies are certainly desirable, but not essential. The research also revealed that communication and collaboration competencies are almost universally essential due to the complexity of the designs which typically necessitates the formation of multi-discipline teams. Without these competencies, the team’s cross-profession effectiveness is often hindered due to differences in terminology, processes, and team member geographic location.