4 Mat Model Revisited With Case Studies

4 Mat Model Revisited With Case Studies


The 4 Mat model of instruction design as an important model of learning design and was discussed in my previous blog. We will revisit the model along with few interesting case studies in this blog.

4 Mat Model Revisited

In my previous article on Using 4 Mat Model for Creating Engaging Digital Learning Experience, I had presented the following:

The 4 Mat model was propounded by Dr. Bernice McCarthy’s that talks about learning styles and behaviorism in a concrete manner. 4 Mat attempts to take advantage of the learning styles (as explained in Kolb’s model) to achieve better learning outcomes.

The model integrates 4 parts of the learning cycle and can be illustrated as below:

4 Mat Model for creating engaging Digital learning

Source: 4mat4learning.com.au

Lets quickly recall the 4 components and what they mean:


The why part of the learning cycle is crucial to understand, which means why is it important for learner to know the concept. A simple example is why we should learn about the functioning of a combustion engine. Here the learners are informed about the need to learn about the concept and how it relates to their work.


The question “what” is asked when we are trying to conceptualize the new information that is being presented. The “What” part of the model addresses the question, “what is this topic all about?”. What are the various elements associated with the concept? A simple example is “what is a combustion engine?”


The “How” part of the model takes the lions share in terms of designing a course. Learners are often interested in “how to get things done” rather than what the process is all about. This is natural for today’s busy learners and learning designers must provide enough content in the course for the how part. So, the how part for example would help learners understand “how the combustion engine works?”

What If:

The what if part addresses the unique learners or the “what if possibilities” of a concept or concepts. After learning the concepts, the learners may still want to know certain aspects or best practices/checklists related to the process learnt. A simple example would be what if a vehicle must move in hilly terrains or snow clad areas. Will the same combustion engine work or does it require a different design? So, these additional “what if” scenarios help learners to refine their understanding better.

Having seen the 4 parts of 4 Mat model, let’s next delve deeper with couple of case studies.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Hospitality Course Presented Using 4 Mat

In this course, we started by asking why it is important for the learner to know about the industry they are learning. The learners are from Information Technology background and work on portals related to ticketing, online reservations, back-end analytics of passenger data and so on. The learners need to understand how the industry is organized and the industry’s overall structure. Without understanding this, the learners may not be able to relate to the work they do. For the “What” and “How” part we showed examples, anecdotes, traveler expectations when selecting a room to help the learner understand the nuances of the hospitality/travel industry.

4 Mat Model for Hospitality course

Case Study 2: Risk Management Using 4 Mat And Discovery Method

In this course, we used the 4 Mat Model to teach the topic of risk management. The course starts with a scenario which addresses the “Why” part of the 4 Mat model. The scenario sets the context as to why the learners need to know the importance of risk management in an organization and what is their role in mitigating organization and department level risks.

The what and how part of the course was presented using a gamification strategy. Instead of directly presenting the what are various risks in an organization and how to mitigate them, we presented the learners with a series of challenges in each level of the course. Upon attempting the challenges, the actual content was presented. We used the discovery method of teaching the “what” and “how” of risk management to keep the learners hooked throughout the course.

4 Mat Model for Risk Management course


To conclude, 4 Mat model is an efficient and effective way of imparting instruction by combining all the 4 parts of the brain and addressing the concerns of varied types of learners. We have looked at a couple of case studies that enumerate or elaborate on the 4 Mat model.

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