Building on Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Gagne's

Experienced instructional designers are familiar with multiple instructional design theories and apply:

  • the right theory
  • at the right time
  • to the right content

Gagne’s Nine Events of instruction is one of the more popular ID theories. If you are not familiar with this subject, this article provides a great overview. If you are familiar with this model, then you may find this a useful refresher

The Nine Events

  1. alertness
  2. expectancy
  3. retrieval to working memory
  4. selective perception
  5. semantic encoding
  6. retrieval and responding
  7. reinforcement
  8. cueing retrieval
  9. generalizing

When created, Gagne’s events were  primarily focused on instructor-led training with the learner as little more than a passenger in the process. Thankfully, expanding those events can include learner-generated actions and events that foster better information retention and learning.

The Need for Self-Motivated Learning

Once upon a time, learning was largely centered outside the self. Teachers or instructors led students through courses. Even eLearning was once less than completely self-led, although that is changing today. More and more, it becomes apparent that self-motivated learners internalize and retain information learned during a course, much more so than those involved with instructor or computer-led courses. By modifying Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction for the modern world, it’s possible to self-generate each process in the list.

For example, for the first internal learning process, alertness, learners would need to activate their attention. For the second, expectancy, learners would establish their purpose and build interest and motivation while previewing the content to be learned. For the third, retrieval to working memory, the learner would need to recall prior knowledge they have pertinent to the task. For the fourth, selective perception, learners would process the information gained, along with pertinent examples.

For the fifth, semantic encoding, learners would be required to refocus their attention while employing their own learning strategies. For the sixth, retrieval and responding, learners would simply practice what they had learned to this point. For the seventh, reinforcement, learners would evaluate feedback given. For the eighth, cueing retrieval, learners would assess their own performance. Finally, for generalizing, learners would determine how to transfer what they have learned to the real world.

Constructing Knowledge in Their Own Way

As mentioned, Gagne’s model is more than a little passive, and assumes that the learner is only along for the ride. It also assumes that all people learn in the same way, but that has been proven untrue. By using the expanded model, it is possible to allow learners to construct knowledge in their own way, relevant to their own life experiences, knowledge base, education and other criteria.

For instructional designers, it is important to keep in mind that predicting what a learner will take away from a course is impossible 100% of the time. There are simply too many variables. The best that can be achieved is to give learners the tools they require to lead themselves through the process, as this results in the best information retention, as well as learning transference – the process of applying information learned to the real world.

In the end, it is important for instructional designers to let learners take charge of their own education and training. Modifying classic theories like Gagne’s events with modern tools, including audio, video, podcasts, animation and the like can engage learners enough that they willingly take the helm.

For help applying these to your educational courses, it may be wise to consult a professional eLearning Company. The eLearning Network would love to help you with your project. Contact us today!

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