ISD: The Difference Between IPBI and APBI

Just the other day someone asked me …

“What is the difference between “Authentic Performance-based Instruction” and others methods? What was quality instruction before the addition of the buzzword “Authentic”? Inauthentic?”

Yep. Guilty. I added that buzzword, “authentic” to my often-used phrase, borrowed back in the early 1980s, performance-based Instruction.

For sure. In my 41 years in the ISD biz, I’ve seen a lot of Instruction. Almost all of my ISD consulting engagements since 1982 included an analysis effort that I have labeled ETA – Existing Training Assessments – to determine the reuse potential of prior shareholders investments in Instruction in the new effort.

That ETA effort was the 4th type of Analysis effort after 1) Target Audience Analysis, 2) Performance Analysis, and 3) Enabling Knowledge/Skill Analysis.

From my former firm’s Winter 1989 article (page 2&3)…

SWI Newsletter – Winter 1989

Once we had a handle on the audience, their performance requirements and their K/S requirements, we could then assess any existing Instruction, and Information, for it’s reuse in the design and development efforts. Either “As Is” (AI), or “After Modification” (AM).

Here is a segment of a 1994 article in my former firms quarterly newsletter (page 5) addressing this…

SWI Newsletter – Spring 1994

What I find is that some Instruction/Training is focused on Topics, some is focused on Tasks, some is focused on Behaviors, and some is focused on key Behaviors in key Tasks focused on Worthy Outputs. That last “finding” is all too rare however.

Tom Gilbert taught me/us about the need to focus on Accomplishments – Worthy Outputs – which I interpret as Outputs that meet Stakeholder Requirements. Or … Outcomes, as some may label Worthy Outputs. That was in his 1978 book, Human Competence.

I was given my first copy of that book in 1979 when I entered the field of ISD – Instructional Systems Design, also known as ID – Instructional Design, and nowadays sometimes as LXD – Learning Experience Design.


IPBI – Inauthentic Performance-Based Instruction exists, sadly, as does APBI – Authentic Performance-Based Instruction, happily.

The former fars outweighs the latter IMX – in my experience.

I cannot recall if it was in the 1980s or 1990s when I heard someone say something along the lines of, “this training seems to be for some job other than mine.”

The title had Face-Validity.

But the content didn’t have Performance-Validity.

It wasn’t authentic, although it taught Knowledge, Skills, Behaviors and maybe even Outputs. It taught Performance. Somebody’s (perhaps).

Or maybe it was Imagined Performance. Nobody’s Performance.

Or Generalized Performance – made less specific in order to broaden the appeal. Everyone’s Performance, and therefore, No One’s Performance.

Sometimes an Added Buzzword Helps to Clarify

That buzzword is “authentic” – meaning, reflecting the actual performance requirements back-on-the-job, where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.

Authenticity is determine by your Analysis methods.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

On – and that Instruction includes both Job Aids, and Training.

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