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Instructional Design: Ignatian Pedagogy

This guide serves faculty, staff, and students in improving and supporting instruction and learning in various learning environments (e.g., face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online). This represents our effort to share our knowledge with you.

Principles of Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy


The principles of Ignatian pedagogy include context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (Korth, 1993). I use the acronym CEREAL to remember these with the additional letter L for connecting to the learners' lifeworld. We encourage you to think about the types of instructional strategies that can address the whole person through cura personalis (mind, body, and spirit). In this way, we can address the Jesuit mission to transform learners into caring leaders who seek the truth, appreciate the beauty of life and God’s love, and promote human solidarity (Spring Hill College, 2016). Additionally, we recommend incorporating instructional theories, practices, and technologies that support an online community of inquiry (COI) to ensure cognitive presence (mind), social presence (body), and teaching presence (spirit) occur in our distance education courses.

Cognitive Activities to Teach to the Whole Person


First, identify which types of activities you’re considering for your online course. Do they fall into a singular category of instructional strategies (e.g., all content-centered)? If so, consider adding some from each type of instructional strategy listed in the table below to address diverse learners. Varied activities will also keep your students interested/motivated to learn. These online activities are used at a local university's College of Education (Rogers & Van Haneghan, 2015). 

The table provides instructional strategies for distance education that engender higher-order thinking for each teaching approach to provide cognitive presence. This chart serves as a job aid for strategy selection during the design phase. 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.





  • Analysis of case studies
  • Critically review an article
  • HyperInquiry* team project
  • Academic controversy** assignment
  • Develop a book trailer on topic
  • WebQuest***

  • Pretest/Posttest
  • Write a literature review
  • Complete modules on topic in computer-adapted lab/program
  • Write essay
  • Make a presentation
  • Discuss content with peers and instructor

  • Develop questionnaires
  • Develop a personal model of topic
  • Participate in a simulation
  • Develop a workshop
  • Develop a wiki on topic
  • Develop a podcast on topic or narrated PowerPoint
  • Develop a how-to guide on procedure
  • Write a blog post on topic
  • Serve others as a mentor, tutor, or volunteer on topic
  • Peer-review of papers or projects
  • Students create m/c questions for review
  • Design a project
  • Evaluate a program
  • Write an autobiography of your interaction with topic
  • Complete self-evaluation
  • Develop a personal learning network****
  • Capture reflections in journal, audio, or video
  • Curate digital books and articles on topic for lifelong learning

*HyperInquiry, developed by Dempsey and Litchfield (2001), is similar to a WebQuest but at a deeper level of inquiry.

**Academic controversy is a debate where students eventually take on both sides of an argument.

***See Dr. Rogers’ college-level Webquest for developing job aids for critical thinking.

****See Dr. Rogers’ Twitter-based personal learning network at The Online Educator.

Magis Instructional Design Model Framework for Distance Education


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. It's unique in that it addresses religion, spirituality, and social justice in addition to intellectual growth. It's inclusive of service to others. According to one theology professor, Jesuit educators try to 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 Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Additionally, Jesuit school educators include techniques for reflection within their units of study in order to challenge students to serve others (Korth, 1993). Further action and service to others are for the “greater glory of God” or the “Kingdom of God”. The following iterative steps are the framework of Dr. Rogers' Magis ID model for distance education, which is inclusive of the Ignatian pedagogical layers to develop learners into caring leaders. For more information, read Dr. Rogers' blog post on this topic.

  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

Similarity of Research-based Practices and Ignatian Pedagogy


A community of inquiry (COI) exists when you have a social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. These are essential elements of 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 the teacher is present in some way through words (e.g., text-based discussion), voice (e.g., podcasts), or person (e.g., webcast). Designing for a COI loop will address the Ignatian principles of teaching to the whole person. 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 instructional design processes, one can design and develop these types of environments for distance education. Table 1 displays the main focus of a Jesuit education, COI, ITs, and their interrelationships.

Table 1

Comparison of Jesuit Education and Research-Based Best Practices

Jesuit Education of the Whole Person




Necessary Elements for an Online Community of Inquiry

Cognitive Presence

Social Presence

Teaching Presence

Research-based Best Practices for Interaction Treatments

Student-content interactions

Student-student interactions

Student-teacher/moderator interactions


See Dr. Rogers' Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric© linked below to understand the critical elements to plan for your course to engender a robust community of inquiry in your online course. This is used at our College during course design or redesign to provide highly interactive courses to improve student learning outcomes and student satisfaction.

Useful Resources for Jesuit Educational Practices