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Robert Gagné (1916-2002) proposed the following series of events as a design process in a 1992 paper he co-authored. This process uses the behaviorist approach to learning, focusing on the outcomes of instruction.
This process can be represented visually as follows:
1. Gain attention of the students
Make sure learners are ready to learn by presenting a stimulus to get their attention.
- Get attention with novelty, uncertainty or surprise
- Pose a thought-provoking question
- Have students pose questions to be answered by others in the class
2. Inform students of the objectives
Don’t tell them what you are going to do, but what they will be able to do by the end of the session.
- Describe what they have to do
- Describe success criteria
3. Stimulate recall of prior learning
Help students to get a sense of the new information to be presented by relating it to something they already know.
- Ask questions about prior knowledge
- Discuss understanding of previously-covered concepts
- Deploy students with prior experience to work with students with less experience in group work
4. Present the content
Cue lesson content and present instruction effectively. Organise and chunk content in a meaningful way, scaffolding instruction where needed.
- Share key vocabulary
- Provide examples
- Present multiple versions of the same content in different media
5. Provide learning guidance
Use a variety of strategies and resources to help students learn the content.
- Provide support as needed: cues, hints, prompts
- Model varied learning strategies: concept maps, roleplay, visualisations
- Use examples & non-examples: non-examples can be useful to see what not to do
- Provide case studies, analogies & metaphors: these can support knowledge construction
6. Elicit performance (practice)
Give students something active to do to help them internalise new skills and knowledge and confirm understanding.
- Student activities: ask deep questions, have students collaborate with their peers
- Elicit recall strategies: ask students to recall, revisit or reiterate what they have learned
- Facilitate elaboration: ask students to elaborate to add complexity to responses
- Help students integrate knowledge: provide content in real-world contexts
7. Provide feedback
Provide immediate feedback on students’ performance to assess learning. Explain why they’re right or wrong in a constructive manner.
- Confirmatory feedback: inform students what they did or were supposed to do
- Corrective and remedial feedback: inform the students of the accuracy of their response and corrective action needed
- Remedial feedback: direct students to find the answer, but not providing it
- Informative feedback: provide information to help the student understand
- Analytical feedback: provide suggestions, recommendations and further information to encourage deeper connections
8. Assess performance
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction, students must be tested to see if the planned learning outcomes have been achieved.
- Pretest for mastery of prerequisites
- Use a pretest for endpoint knowledge or skills
- Conduct post-tests to check for mastery of skills
- Embed questions throughout instruction (verbally or through quizzes)
- Include objective criteria to measure how effectively the student has learned the content
9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job
Students must internalise new knowledge to put it to work in their own settings.
- Use metaphors
- Generate examples
- Make concept maps or outlines
Bates, B. (2016). Learning Theories Simplified. Los Angeles: Sage.
Gagné, R. M. Briggs, L. J. & Wagner, W. W. (1992). Principles of instructional design (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.