top of page

Understanding SAM (Successive Approximation Model) in Instructional Design

In the realm of instructional design, the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) stands out as a robust framework that emphasizes iterative design processes. Unlike traditional linear approaches, SAM promotes flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability throughout the design and development of instructional materials. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of SAM's framework, highlighting its key principles and stages.

Key Principles of SAM

Iterative Development

SAM advocates for a cyclical development process where multiple iterations refine the instructional design. This iterative approach allows for continuous improvement based on feedback and evaluation.


Collaboration is central to SAM, involving close cooperation between instructional designers, subject matter experts (SMEs), stakeholders, and learners. This collective input ensures that the final product meets the needs and expectations of all parties involved.

Rapid Prototyping

SAM encourages the creation of prototypes early in the design process. These prototypes serve as tangible representations of the instructional materials, facilitating feedback and refinement before finalization.

Continuous Evaluation

Evaluation is integrated into every stage of SAM, enabling ongoing assessment of the instructional materials' effectiveness. This iterative evaluation informs subsequent iterations and ensures alignment with learning objectives.

Stages of SAM


The preparation stage involves gathering relevant information, identifying stakeholders, and establishing project goals and objectives. Key tasks include conducting needs analysis, defining target audience characteristics, and outlining project scope and timelines.

Iterative Design

In the iterative design stage, designers create prototypes or rough drafts of instructional materials. These prototypes are presented to stakeholders and learners for feedback, which is then incorporated into subsequent iterations. This iterative process continues until the design meets the desired objectives and requirements.

Iterative Development

During iterative development, the focus shifts to refining and enhancing the prototypes based on feedback received in the design stage. Designers work closely with SMEs and other stakeholders to address any issues or concerns and make necessary revisions.

Iterative Implementation & Rollout

In the iterative implementation stage, the finalized instructional materials are rolled out to learners. Feedback is collected during this phase to identify any areas for improvement or adjustment. Modifications may be made based on real-world usage and learner feedback.


Evaluation occurs throughout the SAM process, but it is particularly emphasized in the final stage. Formal evaluation methods, such as surveys, assessments, and usability testing, are used to assess the effectiveness of the instructional materials in meeting learning objectives. Based on evaluation results, refinements and adjustments are made to further improve the materials.

In Summary

The Successive Approximation Model (SAM) offers a dynamic and adaptive framework for instructional design, emphasizing iterative development, collaboration, and continuous evaluation. By embracing SAM principles and stages, instructional designers can create engaging and effective learning experiences that meet the evolving needs of learners and stakeholders.


bottom of page