Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction

Cognitive Load Theory informs the importance of not overwhelming a learner’s working memory, and the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy informs as to what types of cognitive processes and knowledge are required for the various levels of thinking from lower-order to higher-order. What neither provides however, is clear and pragmatic guidance on what to do in a classroom setting.

Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction (some authors use the term "Steps") provides educators with a consistent and successful approach to working with learners in a classroom setting. These events are also helpful when designing an applied learning activity. The steps in order of occurrence are:

  1. Gain attention – this clears learners’ minds of competing and distracting priorities
  2. Inform learners of objectives – this signals which areas of their schemas will be exercised
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning - this activates a learners mental schema in the area that will be addressed. In essence, it helps learners pick up where they left off at the previous session. In essence, this sets the content context for learning.
  4. Present the content – in a flipped classroom this may be discussing content that learners acquired on their own prior to class
  5. Provide learning guidance – includes modeling of performance by an educator along with instructions, tips, and pitfalls to avoid. Key concepts are also clarified.
  6. Elicit performance (practice) – occurs when students work through applied learning activities
  7. Provide feedback – feedback on their practice either from an educator or peers
  8. Assess performance – can occur with applied learning activity outputs or conventional testing methods
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job – is reinforced with situational context in an applied learning activity

These events will not occur in every classroom meeting, but imagine a scenario where an educator walks into the room, and begins presenting content until the end of the period, leaving two minutes for questions, and walks out. And after that, he or she may still be surprised that his or her learners are not ready for the next course in their program, or to be productive in the workforce.

An excellent article, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is provided by the Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.