This investigation results in the presentation of a descriptive theoretical model of educational objectives — a model that lays the framework for rich diversity in the prescriptive realm. This descriptive model is meant to inform educators, theorists, and learners about how to categorize the broad nature of education and what components need to be included in the design of education. Based on the components and domains that this new framework provides, prescriptive theories across the spectrum of educational activity could be evaluated or developed. The following key questions guide the approach for the rest of this investigation:

1.         Why is the current view of education a problem?

2.         How have other scholars addressed this problem?

3.         Why are these solutions inadequate?

4.         How does this proposed solution inform educators, and how does it improve on existing solutions?

5.         What research does this theory inspire?

            The word education is used in many contexts, and depending on the prevailing political philosophies, social trends, religious dominance, bureaucratic imposition, and so forth, the word is seized as the precise term to address specific prescriptive objectives, including the what and the how of these objectives.

            The development of the dissertation will be as follows. Chapter I clarifies the nature of the problem, and then a broad definition of education is presented as a departure point — to formalize the parameters of the theater of operations. It is within this defined environment that the reflection, the exploration, and the theory building takes place.

            Chapter II considers the writings of many scholars in the search for a descriptive model of education. The review of literature takes a chronological approach.

            Chapter III presents the core of the descriptive theoretical model — the FIT model, which is one of the two models integrated into the FIT-C model. The acronym is derived from the three domains this chapter introduces, namely the domains of Fundamentals, Instructions, and Teachings.

            Chapter IV introduces the Core Concepts Model, the other model integrated into the FIT-C model. This model introduces five core concepts to education, namely Community, Agenda, Content, Presentment, and Verification.

            Chapter V presents the FIT-C Model. In this chapter the CC model is integrated into the framework of the FIT model. The five core components are considered for each of the three domains of the FIT model.

            Chapter VI provides an applied analysis of these models and the conclusion. Three current theories of instructional design are evaluated. Each theory is mapped to the FIT-C model in order to evaluate the applied value of this model. Each instructional design theory is evaluated; to interpret the design theory to identify perceived strengths and weaknesses. Each of the three theories were selected from each of the domains of Bloom’s taxonomy, namely the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains. The chosen article, based on cognitive instructional design theory, is Designing Constructivist Learning Environments (Jonassen, 1999). The chosen article, based on the psychomotor domain, is The Development of Physical Skills: Instruction in the Psychomotor Domain (Romiszowski, 1999). The chosen article, based on the affective domain, is Recapturing Education’s Full Mission: Educating for Social, Ethical, and Intellectual Development (Lewis et al, 1999).

            In addition to the evaluation of the above-mentioned instructional design theories, seven fictional educational scenarios are provided. These scenarios illustrate the diversity within education and demonstrates how the reach of the FIT-C model addresses such diversity within the field.

            In the conclusion, the value of this theoretical framework is considered. Suggestions are made for future research.

A Problem — Phenomenon or Phenomena?

            Perceptions of what education is, are fragmented and complex. As Cole (1972, p. vii) stated, “There is, unfortunately, no accepted definition of education; or rather, there are so many definitions that the offer of another is inevitable.” This very fact perpetuates many arguments related to the nature and diverse perspectives of what education is. Is it meant to be a nebula, or is there some grounding frame of reference that can tie together all these divergent strands? Definitions of education, and how to conduct education, lead to such divergent perceptions, that it becomes at times questionable whether a sensible debate is possible.

            With reference to the analogy of the haptic inspection of the elephant (The Blind Men and the Elephant, n.d.), the core of the problem can be illustrated. If each blind man inspecting a portion of the elephant were to cut off the part he was describing, he would then have physical proof that what he was feeling really does feel that way, others could confirm that it really looks that way, and finally that it is what he said it was. In the process he would destroy the elephant. That is a problem. It is a problem because it is elephantness that contextualizes each part, yet each part is a different phenomenon contextualized within the context of elephantness.

            As we consider the different parts of the elephant — the trunk and the tail are not different views of the same phenomena; neither does any part adequately addresses the issue of elephantness. The trunk addresses the issue of noseness and the tail addresses the issue of tailness — different locations, different functions, different objectives, yet the same elephant. It is not “same elephant, different tails.” The one tail draws water and picks leaves, the other tail keeps away the flies. The theoretical approaches to the one tail does not transfer well to the other tail.

            The turf battles in education are confirmed at all levels of the academic ladder. Some of the major -isms include behaviorism and cognitivism; instructivism, objectivism, and constructivism. These are all prescriptive theories with distinct characteristics that are well-suited to one tail, but not to the other.

            An essential element of this dilemma is that those beholden to a particular -ism, view their prescriptive philosophy as an alternative view (and often as a superior view), to the context as a whole, rather than to a particular phenomenon. This is the problem. This approach assumes the particular -ism to be correct, or at least an alternative view of education as a context. This investigation will suggest that these -isms address different phenomena. This investigation contends that the perspective that these -isms are different views of the same phenomena led to wrong questions, in other words, the answers do not inform the problem.

            This investigation presents a descriptive model of education to emphasize and validate the respective merits of each of the -isms and how these different phenomena act in concert to address the broader context of education, which is bigger than all the -isms. This model is an attempt to more closely describe the elephant. The measure of success in doing so will allow all of the different parts to be incorporated, each as a distinct phenomenon serving the larger whole.

A Problem — A Descriptive Map to Contextualize Education

            This dissertation argues that although the field of education has been thoroughly researched by countless scholars, the conceptual view of the field is fragmentary and there is a lack of concensus about an adequate descriptive map of education.

            A map is meant as a referent-in-common among users. The contribution of a geographic map is that it formally describes the domain within a particular context. Anyone acquainted with a world map would know that Russia is a vast country, and that Andorra is a tiny country. Without the map, Andorra’s exact location might become as vague as Shangri-la, and its size and relative importance would easily be over- or underestimated. A map is a representation that affords the user an efficient opportunity to contextualize a country with respect to other countries, continents, oceans, and other relevant geographic contexts. If we consider the perspective of those who have never had access to any maps versus those who are well acquainted with maps, we find that among those without maps there is a very divergent and idiosyncratic perception of the context. Without this convenient bird’s-eye-view impression, each person would not be privy to the same linguistic and numeric data, or share the same interpretation of such data; and so each person would be influenced uniquely by whatever data they consider and how they consider it. Those who are well acquainted with maps have a unified contextualized impression due to the way maps inform its users. Mental images related to location, distance, elevation, size, neighbors, rivers, and so forth, would be a unique conjecture within each individual without a map. A map then, is a powerful instrument to create a base context in geography. Can this concept be transferred to the domain of education?

            Just as the periodic table has become a cohesive and grounding map in chemistry, so could the FIT-C model, or future iterations of it, become a cohesive and grounding frame of reference in which to contextualize prescriptive theories of education.

            With no agreed-upon descriptive map of education, consensus about the lay of the land remains divergent. This is a pithy description to this problem, but because of the far-reaching implications of this statement, such a brief introduction serves only the initial expectations for the reader. The subsequent chapters provide more detail related to the problem and possible solutions.

            As a precursor to the presentation of the review of literature and the proposed descriptive FIT-C model, two difficult issues have to be explored — (a) What is education? and (b) What are the prevailing views of the field, and why are these views inadequate?

A Definition of Education

            A broad definition of education will clarify and define the scope and parameters of this investigation. From the perspective of an educator, the definition would be, “Education includes all events designed to promote learning.” This definition specifically considers the what in education. It does not focus in particulars on the why, the when, or the where. This investigation explores the broad variety of what educators could possibly focus on.

            To further clarify the parameters of what is to be considered in this investigation, the following variables are considered: intentional versus incidental, and formal versus informal. These variables define with greater precision the context in which the problem is viewed and in which the solutions are sought.

Intentional Versus Incidental Learning

            Is incidental learning education? As an example you might be watching two people interacting in an authentic situation and you might learn from the experience — even though it was not designed as a teaching moment or to be instructional. Is this education? The argument could be made both ways, depending on the perspective you take. From an educator’s perspective (from whom), there was no intent to teach, and so no teaching occurred. This is thus an event of learning. Without teaching or instruction it is incidental education. The learner’s perspective (to whom) might be that this event (watching two people interact in an authentic situation) was very informative and undoubtedly something was learned. So, if an event taught you something, is it an educational event? In the same light you could observe a mountain sheep falling off a cliff and learn something from it. Such events of learning are labeled as incidental learning.

            Incidental learning is not considered in this dissertation for the following reason. Although it might be considered as educational from the learner’s perspective, it lies beyond the control or influence of any person intending to provide education. Otherwise, it would be intentional. Incidental events cannot be altered or improved. The focus of this investigation will be on intentional events.

Formal versus Nonformal Learning

            Intentional education could be either formal or nonformal. As an analogy, a kitchen is a formal environment for the preparation of food — the environment was intentionally designed for the preparation of food. Informal environments would include wherever else people, out of need, have to prepare food like a picnic blanket. Formal education would include intentionally designed physical surroundings where education is conducted. Nonformal education would include impromptu events such as one friend teaching another, or a parent teaching a child in a just-in-time instructional situation.

            According to the discussion above, the definition of education would then have to be adjusted as follows: “Anything anyone does to promote learning in either a formal or nonformal milieu is part of education.” Within this context, the definitions and models of other scholars will be investigated.

            This discussion provides a broad context of what education is, and what parameters are considered in this investigation. The next chapter will evaluate the prevailing views of the field, and why these views are inadequate.