Action Mapping

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Overview and Purpose

Action mapping involves a streamlined approach to instructional design. It analyzes the need for training in order to define a targeted business goal with realistic actions to get people there. In other words, instead of simply gathering all the information that you think people need to know, action mapping starts with the problem/issue that the training is supposed to solve. This approach, is more cost effective, efficient and actually improves outcomes.

For the purpose of this mini-course the focus will be on training -- not to be confused with learning. "Training is our invention to speed up the learning process by taking advantage of what has already been learned and freeing people from repeating the errors of others." (Gram, Tom)

Needs Assessment

When approaching training, the instinct is to gather as much information as possible and turn it into a presentation or an online course. No matter how you present it - chunk the information, include cool graphics or encase it in a story or a game, it is as Cathy Moore defines “information dump.” The challenge is to get people away from this traditional way of approaching training and on the path of action mapping. The goals of content driven courses focus only on what people need to know and not the needs and goals of an organization. Research shows that active learning in a simulation (or real world situation) has better results than traditional instructional learning. Good learner goals need to produce a change in behavior and that change must be measureable. Too often learning is not connected to actions with measurable outcomes. "Action mapping is a visual approach to eLearning, which focuses on performance, not information."

Research shows that "decision-making scenarios offer several advantages from a learning perspective—especially in preparing learners to use the learned information in their jobs." (Thalheimer P6)

  • Scenarios ask learners to respond to realistic situations, thus better preparing learners for those real-world situations.
  • Scenario-based decisions prompt realistic memory retrieval, maximizing the chances that learners will remember what they learned over the long haul.
  • Scenarios provide learners with feedback about their understanding, speeding and improving the learning process.

Performance Objectives

The goal of action mapping as is the goal of this course is to develop instruction that elicits a change in behavior and not simply instruction that just delivers information.

This course will:

  • Help you to understand the common pitfalls in traditional instruction/training solutions
  • Help you to understand why Action Mapping is an effective tool in business solutions.
  • Help you apply effective Action Mapping strategies.
  • Provide the necessary framework for you to be able to adopt the strategies of Action Mapping when tasked with developing training instruction to solve your own training need or business problem.
  • You will be a successful Action Mapping Master! Your problem will be solved! How will you know? Because you'll be able to easily measure your results because you've set a measurable goal!

Course Units


This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: What is action mapping and why do I need it?

Unit 2: Action Mapping Techniques

In this unit, we will introduce Action Mapping and go over the four steps involved in action mapping. You will be instructed to jot down your own strategies. When you see the pencil icon, Pencil icon.pngyou'll go to the Discussion Tab (located at the top of the page) and enter your notes there.

Unit 3: Test Your Action Mapping Skills

In this unit, you'll navigate your way through a branching scenario to test your action mapping skills.


Gram, Tom. "Evaluating Training and Learning Circa 2011." Performance X Design, 17 Feb. 2011, Accessed 14 Dec. 2016

Thalheimer, W. "Using Linguistically, Culturally, and Situationally Appropriate Scenarios to Support Real-World Remembering." 2009, April, Retrieved November 30, 2016