Tag Archives: learning theory

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne was a psychologist in the field of education. One of his most influential ideas was his Nine Events of Instruction. The concept has had a significant impact in the instructional approach of many in the world of education.

This post will briefly explain and cover the Nine Events of Instruction and to explain their application in the classroom. The nine events are as follows.

  1. Gain learners’ attention.
  2. Inform learners of the objectives.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning.
  4. Present the content.
  5. Provide “learning guidance”
  6. Elicit performance (practice)
  7. Provide feedback.
  8. Assess performance.
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the real-world

Gain Learners Attention

Obtaining attention is critical in terms of information processing. Unfocused students cannot learn anything. How a teacher gains the attention of their students can vary. Some use classroom management techniques to obtain behavior such as ringing a bell or raising their hand to indicate that it is time to be quiet.

Inform Learners of the Objectives

It is hard for many to enjoy a journey when they do not know where they are going. The same idea applies to many students. You need to explain to them what they will do in order for them to enjoy doing it. This is one reason for sharing with the students the objectives or purpose of a class. It provides a sense of direction and perhaps relevance.

Stimulate Prior Learning

Stimulating prior learning allows students to connect new information with old. Review what they have learned in order to extend and build upon it. This is one aspect of constructivism. The review can be in the form of questions, game or some other method. Students need to see the connections among the information they are learning for schematic reasons as well.

Present Content

This the part of the teaching in which new material is presented. This can be done through any method of teaching including direct instruction, indirect instruction, cooperative learning, etc.

Provide Guidance

After learning new material, students need to use it. This first happens with a hands-on example with guidance. In other words, the first few problems are done together with teacher support. This is the scaffolding aspect of Vygotsky’s model. You as the teacher guide the students through the initial experience of using new information.

Elicit Performance

At this step, the students are executing the new skill without immediate feedback. Students need the freedom to perform without instant critique even from the teacher. However, this is only temporary.

Provide Feedback

Now the students learn how they did. This can happen through going over the answers or discuss various opinions about a subjective subject. This event provides students with a way to compare their performance with that of others or some external standard.

Assess Performance

This is the giving of some sort of grade or indication of progress. There are several different methods for giving marks or grades.

Enhance Retention through Transfer to Real World

Students need to see how the knowledge they attain can be used in the real world. Therefore, the teacher needs to assist in this transfer. This can be through discussion on how to do this or through the use of some sort of authentic assessment.


Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is a fantastic model to follow when trying to teach and interact with students. The order is the most common flow and there are natural exceptions to the order developed by Gagne. However, a teacher chooses to do this they should keep in mind the nine events in order to support student learning.

Behavioral vs Cognitive Perspectives on Learning Theories Part II

In the previous post, we looked at how the behavioral and cognitive schools of psychology address different issues or questions related to learning. In this post, we will look at the last four questions/issues that both behavioral and cognitive schools of psychology deal with when explaining learning. The questions are…

  • What is the role of motivation?
  • How does transfer occur?
  • What processes are involved in self-regulation?
  • What does this mean for teaching?

What is the Role of Motivation?

Behaviorists see motivation as an increase in the likelihood of a behavior. Therefore, if a behavior happens often it is because a person is motivated to do it. For behaviorist, there is no difference between learning and motivation. A person who is motivated to perform an action must already know how to do it according to this train of thought.

Cognitivists see motivation and learning as related but not the same. For them, people can be motivated without actually learning anything since the behavior is not automatically linked to motivation. Instead, motivation affects how information is processed.

How Does Transfer Occur?

Transfer is the application of knowledge or skills in new ways or in a different setting. In the behavioral school, transfer happens when the new and old environments are similar in nature. For example, if a person knows how to ride a bicycle they should be able to use these skills to drive a motorcycle.

The cognitive school states that transfer happens when people understand how to apply knowledge in different environments. The environments do not need to be similar. This is because cognitivists focus on how the information is remembered in the mind instead of the environment in which the knowledge is applied.

What Processes are Involved in Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation is the ability to focus on attaining goals. Behaviorists believe that self-regulation occurs when people setup their own reinforcement. For example, if someone decides that they will eat their favorite food after completing a project. They are reinforcing their behavior by providing the food contingent on completing the project.

Cognitive approaches to self-regulation include monitoring one’s comprehension, rehearsal of content, and or attention. For cognitivists, it is not about reinforcement but making sure one understands what one is trying to process. Rewards and punishments are not necessary.

What are the Implications

Behaviorists emphasize stimuli response in the theories on learning. The theories that are developed from this perspective on most useful in explaining simple forms of learning such as word meanings and other forms of lower-level thinking.

Cognitivists propose theories related to information processing and memory networks. Their theories are strongest in explaining complex learning or higher level thinking.


The purpose was not to state that one school of thought on learning is superior. The goal is to see how a combination of behavioral and cognitive theories can be used to understand learning.  Seeing learning from both perspectives rather than one provides a fuller understanding of learning.