A Shot of Theory – Gagne's 9 Events

The Nine Events of Instruction might sound a bit daunting. But don’t be alarmed. These nine steps, defined by Robert Gagne, are the basis for what a lot of people refer to as “sound instructional design.”  So what’s it all about?

Simply put, these nine events are a sequence of events that you, the instructional designer, need to take your learner through.

1.    Gaining Attention

Hook ‘em in and make ‘em want to stay.  (See Tip #12: Have I Got Your Attention?)

2.    Informing the Learner of the Objectives

In our Kineo short hand, we call this “setting direction.” You need to tell the learner where they’re going and how they might get there.  This doesn’t mean you bore them to tears with a bulleted list of instructional objectives. There are better ways!  (See Tip #26: Our Objection to Learning Objectives).

3.    Stimulating Recall of Prerequisite Learning

By reminding the learner of relevant information they already know, you’re helping them build a bridge between the old and the new. When they can hook the new knowledge onto something they already know, the mental connection is forged all the stronger.  How can you do this?  Bring up examples of familiar situations that tie into your topic. Bring up a similar but different model that they can lay their new knowledge on top of.  Or simply remind them of what they learned in the last session.

4.    Presenting the Stimulus Material

This is the content part.  Share your knowledge or concept, present the idea.  Do it in an interesting way, please.

5.    Providing Learning Guidance

This step goes along with the content presentation bit (step 4).  Mnemonics may help to memorise a process list; case studies or examples may provide additional guidance to help the learner understand the critical attributes of a concept.  This could even take the form of a checklist when teaching a process – something to guide the learner along the path defined by the objectives.

6.    Eliciting the Performance

We generally call this practice.  Have the learner practise what it is you’re aiming to teach them.

7.    Providing Feedback about Performance Correctness

Tell ‘em how they did.  If you were using a multiple choice question, don’t just say “That’s wrong.” Provide some quality feedback that helps them learn from their mistake. (See Tip #6: Feedback).

8.    Assessing the Performance

How can you “prove” that the learner has met the objective? Why test ‘em.  Assessments should be challenging and contextual.

9.    Enhancing Retention and Transfer

How can you ensure transfer to the workplace? Spaced learning events, continued support and ongoing check-ins with a manager are just a few ideas.

So how was that?  It didn’t hurt at all now, did it?  Perhaps it’ll prime you to dig deeper. Theory isn’t all that scary. In fact, it can be good for you.

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Aronson, D. and Briggs, L. (1983). Contributions of Gagne and Briggs to a Prescriptive Model of Instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models: An Overview of their Current Status. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.