Magis Instructional Design Model for Ignatian Pedagogy

Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Engraving by C. Klauber. Wellcome M0005653

The Magis Instructional Design (ID) Model for online courses was developed by Sandra Rogers (2015) with input from the Jesuits at Spring Hill College, as subject matter experts, and her professor in instructional design, Dr. Davidson-Shivers. It’s unique in that it addresses religion, spirituality, and social justice in addition to intellectual growth.

Jesuit school educators include techniques for reflection within their units of study in order to challenge students to serve others (Korth, 1993). According to one theology professor, Jesuit educators focus instructional activities on experiential learning to engender the cycle of experience leading to reflection and further action. This is based on the dynamics of Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises from which Ignatian pedagogy is derived.

The principles of Ignatian pedagogy include context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (Korth, 1993). Further action and service to others are for the greater glory of God. Magis means doing more for God’s Kingdom (Ad majorem Dei gloriam). The Magis ID Model is an alternative to existing ones in that it embeds the following Ignatian pedagogical layers into the systematic design of instruction to develop learners into caring leaders by addressing the whole person:

  1. Analyze human learning experience online/offline
  2. Establish relationships of mutual respect online/offline
  3. Tap into learner’s prior knowledge & experience
  4. Design optimal learning experience for the whole person
  5. Assimilate new information
  6. Transfer learning into lifeworld
  7. Encourage lifelong learning & reflections beyond self-interest
  8. Learners become contemplatives in action

Online Community of Inquiry

Designing for a community of inquiry (COI) loop will address the Ignatian principles of teaching to the whole person. A  COI exists when you have social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. These are essential elements to the communication loop for an online COI (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This means that learners in an online environment are involved in activities that are cognitively challenging, are able to interact with their classmates, and that teaching is present in some way through words (e.g., text-based discussion), voice (e.g., podcasts), or person (e.g., webcast). The teaching can be delivered by student moderators or the instructor.

Bernard et al. (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of 74 online course interactions and found substantive research outcomes indicating the positive effect on learning when online educators build these types of interactions into their courses: student-student, student-teacher, and student-content. These interaction treatments (ITs) were defined as the environments and not the actual behaviors that occur within them. Through ID processes, one can design and develop these types of environments for distance education. Table 1 displays the main components of a Jesuit education, COI, and ITs, and their interrelationships.

Table 1

Comparison of Jesuit Education and Research-Based Best Practices

Jesuit Education of the Whole Person Mind Body Spirit
Necessary Elements for an Online Community of Inquiry Intellectual Presence Social Presence Teaching Presence
Research-based Best Practices for Interaction Treatments Student-content interactions Student-student interactions Student-teacher interactions

Designing Optimal Learning Experiences for the Whole Person

The Magis ID Model analyzes the type of instructional strategies used in distance education to ensure they address the whole person through cura personalis (mind, body, & spirit). Strategy selection should vary to meet the needs of diverse learners and engender higher-order thinking for cognitive presence. Selection depends on various affordances and constraints such as time and resources. For example, an activity-centered lesson is based on an interactive task and requires collaborative tools and student groupings. Content-centered lessons are passive tasks where the student generally only interacts with the content; the exception being discussions of content. Experience-centered activities require a hands-on approach to developing something or serving/working with others. The learner-centered activity provides the learner with more autonomy over their pursuit of knowledge and includes metacognitive actions for self-regulation of learning; the affordances and constraints for this type of activity are highly dependent on the task. Ideally, online educators should provide active learning activities to enhance cognitive transfer of new information and skills learned to long-term memory.

Contact Dr. Rogers (srogers@shc.edu) at Spring Hill College to learn more about this ID model and how it’s being used to develop distance education courses.

Author: teacherrogers

Content developer, instructional designer, trainer, and researcher

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