Project Management in Instructional Design

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Professional Studies in Instructional Design Leadership (DPS)

Committee Chair

Joel Gardner Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lewis Chongwony Ph.D.

Committee Member

Niccole Hyatt


This study surveyed 86 instructional design professionals based on a two-part approach to identify and validate the most critical instructional design project management competencies. First, a systematic review of instructional design project management literature was conducted to identify key project management competencies. Next, a survey instrument was created based on common themes identified during the systematic analysis of qualitative study results on instructional design project management competencies. Validation of the survey instrument was conducted by subject matter experts. An online, cross-sectional survey invitation was sent to 62 colleges and universities with instructional design or related programs, ten instructional design or related LinkedIn groups, and one professional organization to post for alumni and professionals using convenience sampling. A sub-analysis was conducted to determine statistically significant differences in instructional design project management competencies based on role and industry. Globalization, technology, and most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic are causing disruptions to the nature of work and forcing organizations to quickly adapt to heightened competition and disruptions (Djankov & Saliola, 2018). To support employee learning and adaptability, many organizations employ instructional designers to create training, develop performance solutions, and lead learning initiatives. The purpose of instructional design is to create learning experiences that improve learning and performance. Instructional designers use a systematic process to develop personalized learning experiences that support organizations' learning outcomes (Brown & Green, 2018; Dick et al., 2009). Instructional design is inherently complex (Dick et al., 2009), and it can be challenging to manage large, complex instructional design projects effectively (Dick et al., 2009). Preparing people in organizations with the right knowledge and skills to identify, respond, and overcome challenges faced by disruptions due to globalization, competition, or pandemics can help organizations adapt more quickly. Project management is one field of knowledge that could provide insight into and strategies for managing instructional design effectively. Project management is the process of applying knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet or exceed project requirements (Project Management Institute, 2017). Some research exists related to instructional design and project management (e.g., McDaniel & Liu, 1996; Williams van Rooij, 2011; Williams van Rooij, 2013; Kang & Ritzhaupt, 2015; York & Ertmer, 2016; Gardner, Bennett, Hyatt & Stoker, 2017; Gardner, Chongwony & Washington, 2018; Nall, 2019). However, there is limited research on which project management practices are most important in managing instructional design projects. Further, some of the existing studies are qualitative studies with limited participants, making it difficult to generalize to multiple contexts. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify and validate the most critical project management competencies for instructional design projects. The main research question results included the six most crucial instructional design project management competencies in instructional design projects. There were no statistically significant differences in the most critical instructional design project management competencies based on role or industry. Ethical behavior, keeping organized, being adaptable to change, and demonstrating effective communication are critical instructional design project management competencies for the success of any project but can have a more significant impact when considered at onset and throughout the implementation and closing of instructional design projects.