Instructional components

Instructional components are those parts of the training materials that are not directly related to the content but facilitate their use for both resource persons and learners. An agroforestry video on technologies for example can serve as training material but on its own, trainers may wonder how best to use this. If a leaflet with an introduction, some user guidelines and test questions and answers accompany such a video, then these ‘instructional components’ will add value to the materials beyond the subject matter content.


There are many instructional components that can be considered for different types of training materials but care must be taken to select the most appropriate ones. Instructional components can be categorized as those related to:


    Introduction: overview, guidelines, table of contents…

    Curriculum a guide for learning which integrates the philosophy and orientation of a trainingprogramme, expected learning outcomes, key content, methodology and evaluation for the teaching and learning process. planning: objectives, learning outcomes, skills, knowledge A complex construction of information and individual experience with an interrelatedsocial and environmental dimension. (N.B. many different interpretations of knowledgeexist, and this is one preferred in this Toolkit) and attitudes to be developed…

    Instructional planning: suggested teaching time, teaching strategies, equipment and materials needed…

    Resources: reference materials, resource list…

    Instruction: glossary, transparency masters, video, slide sets, audio tapes, discussion questions…

    Learner application: learning activities, student worksheets, performance guide…

    Evaluation: quizzes, test items, answer sheets, evaluation standards or criteria,  performance tests…

A list of possible instructional components is given in annex 2.


EXERCISE – Identifying instructional components

Small groups of participants discuss training material with a clearly specified content, format and audience. Using a list of possible instructional components (see annex 2) they consider the various categories and indicate for each one whether it will or will not have to be taken into account. They then select the 5 or 10 most important ones and prioritize them in terms of usefulness for that specific training material product.


In most cases, training materials developers will come up with ‘learning or teaching objectives’ as a top priority instructional component for most types of training material. This is only normal since it will be difficult to use a specific material if it is not clear why. The topic on Setting aims and objectives for a training course of this Toolkit provides some information a source of data or sensory input, organized or arranged into a pattern which can be interpreted. on how to go about developing instructional objectives. It is obvious that objectives developed for a course, curriculum or topic will need to be reflected in the supporting training materials as well even though they will also need to be more specific.



For example, the objective a statement of what a learner is expected to learn by the end of a training course,expressed in terms which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. of a lecture note on ‘experimental agroforestry data management’ originally read:

‘To understand the importance of experimental data management in agroforestry research’

This broad, general objective, which cannot be ‘measured’, can be divided into four more specific ones:

   To define data management in the context of agroforestry research.

   To list and explain three main important reasons for proper data management.

   To list and describe the main steps in the data management process.

   To recognize data management problems in an experiment.



Remember that objectives must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART S = Specific,M = Measurable, A = Attainable or Achievable, R = Relevant or Realistic, T = Time-bound), as we noted on page 100. They must indicate what a learner is supposed to be able to do after the instruction, under what conditions and at what standard of performance. Objectives will include behavioural verbs that can relate to:

    Sample tasks

    Study skills

    Analysis skills

    Synthesis skills

    General application


A shopping list of verbs useful in writing behavioural objectives is included in topic 4 – Setting aims and objectives, annex 1.



EXERCISE – Writing behavioural objectives

Looking at a specific training material that requires the development of clear instructional objectives, participants meet in small working groups and develop these for the material being considered.