Where did they get their PhD?
David got his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in 1964, the same year that he got his M.A. David said that he discovered that he only needed to do one other project and he would satisfy the requirements for a Ph.D. as well as the M.A. he was finishing that year and he completed the Ph.D. with only a few months extra work.
Where have they taught / worked?
David's resume, currently located on-line at http://cito.byuh.edu/merrill/index.htm, lists the following for his work experience (although he retired from USU in 2004 to pursue the teaching assignment in Hawaii previously mentioned; see http://cito.byuh.edu/entrepreneur/main.swf):
- George Peabody College for Teachers, 1964 -1966
- Brigham Young University, 1966-1967, 1968-1979
- Courseware, Inc. (Vice Pres, Director), 1972 -1980
- University of Southern California, 1979 -1988
- Microteacher, Inc. (President), 1981-1985
- Utah State University, 1987-Present
Other Short-term Assignments:
- Bucknell University, Summer 1970
- Univ. of Indonesia, TKPK, Summers 1980, 82
- University of Maine, Summer 1975
- Twente Univ., The Netherlands, Summer 1988
- Anchorage Alaska, March 1980
- Twente Univ., The Netherlands, Spring 1999
What things are they best known for?
Component Display Theory, Elaboration Theory (developed in collaboration with Charles M. Reigeluth), Instructional Transaction Theory (see David's chapter on ITT in Instructional-Design Theories and Models: A new Paradigm of Instructional Theory by Reigeluth), the TICCIT CAI System, First Principles of Instruction.
Other achievements listed in David's resume:
- Founder and director of the Instructional Science Department at Brigham Young University.
- Founder and director of the Division of Instructional Research, Development and Evaluation
at Brigham Young University.
- A founder, director and Vice President for Research, Courseware Inc., San Diego, California
(From 1972 until 1980). Anderson Consulting- Courseware Inc. is still a major instructional development firm.
- Founder, director and President of Microteacher, Inc., San Diego, California (From 1981
until 1985). This company developed educational courseware for schools. The firm is no longer active.
- Founder, member. and General Manager of River Park Instructional Technologies L.L.C.,
Logan, Utah (1996-1997).
- Director, ID2 Research Group, Utah State University, Logan, Utah (1987 -1998).
What are their three most important publications?
- Merrill, M. D. (1994). Instructional Design Theory. M. David Merrill. David G. Twitchell (Ed.). Educational Technology Publications.
- Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.
- Merrill, M. D. (2002). A pebble-in-the-pond model for instructional design. Performance Improvement, 41(7), 39-44.
Who are their most frequent collaborators?
- Charles M. Reigeluth
- T. A. Anderson
- David G. Twitchell
- Robert M. Gagné
Who are their main philosophical rivals (if any)?
According to a current Ph.D. student at Utah State University, Daren Olsen, Dr. Merrill could be found associating with theoretical opponents even after what appeared to be the bitterest of discussions over instructional technology concepts. For Dr. Merrill, Daren explained, the concepts were not about personalities. Dr. Merrill would often invite opponents to see his model railroad after debates.
What (in)famous / apocryphal stories exist about this person?
TICCIT is a template program to which coursework can be programmed into. The template interacts with the user based on their input, simulating a teacher's guidance through a course based on computer-analyzed needs of the learner. Dave used to live by a park in Logan while teaching at Utah State University. He told me that as TICCIT was being developed his team came across some stumbling blocks. David decided to quarantine himself in an upstairs room in his house for as long as it took to complete the logic tree necessary for the system's artificial intelligence components. Sometimes he would emerge from his house and walk out into the park, yelling with frustration about the task only to return and tackle it again until it was finished after two or three weeks. Brigham Young University utilized TICCIT in several courses. When giving a report of the success of TICCIT, David said, “TICCIT English [at BYU] is still running, although not on the Nova General machines of the original TICCIT system. It can be found on-line at http://webclips.byu.edu. This is the longest running CBT course in history. It has been used in various forms since the late 1970s.” TICCIT seemed to be ahead of its time when it emerged, and other similar systems have since been developed that gained more popularity, but TICCIT still holds its prominence as a pioneering effort in computer-based instruction.
David recently worked on a machine that simulated large crane operation. The manager of the firm, who had never operated a crane before, learned on the simulation machine and successfully operated a real crane to the astonishment of fellow workers. The crane operation the manager learned required precise machine handling to transport large materials from a ship to a truck. See Instructional Transaction Theory (Merrill, 1999) which "Represent[s] knowledge as knowledge objects enabl[ing] the building of a general-purpose simulation engine." (http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/h/x/hxk208/INSYS525/K_base2.htm)
David contributed some on the infamous Green Books projects of former student and good friend, Charles Reigeluth. Charles thought that students needed a comprehensive list of all instructional design theories so they could choose which one was useful in a particular instructional setting. In considering the importance Charles placed on the need for several different instructional models, and because they were close enough that David felt he could be frank about his own views, David told Charles playfully, “Your full of baloney . . . they're all basically the same,” and was challenged by Charles to prove it. David's most recent work has set out to do just that, as he has developed the first principles of instruction. The following two images give a synopsis of both Dave's first principles and his pebble-in-the-pond model, taken from his “A pebble-in-the-pond model for instructional design” article in Performance Improvement , 41(7), 39-44.
A photo (headshot or other is fine)