A simplified version of ADDIE, the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) comprises the iterative and agile processes in the development of course material. It includes three phases: Preparation, Iterative Design, and Iterative Development. Developed by Dr. Michael Allen of Allen Interactions, the model highlights the importance of prototyping and gaining learners’ feedback early in the process.

College instructors can implement the model while developing individual assignments, projects, or courses. Because of its iterative nature and the need for the extensive feedback, instructors should work in a cohort of peers, colleagues, advisors, and students.


In the Preparation phase, the instructor should determine the scope and context for the project and gather necessary background information. This phase is meant to be quick as opposed to the more lengthy and time-consuming Analysis stage in the ADDIE model.

Iterative Design

The Iterative Design phase relies on group work; it involves brainstorming sessions, rough sketching, prototyping, and feedback. The group decides which of the proposed solutions are worth developing in the next phase.

Iterative Development

In the Iterative Development phase, the prototype created in the Design phase is further advanced through the iterative stages of development, implementation, and evaluation. 

SAM model

SAM Model. Allen Interactions.

Key Takeaways

  • Emphasizes repeated small steps and iterations
  • Encourages performance-driven learning
  • Relies on group work

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