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Robert Gagne

Robert Gagne
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Learning Theorist

    Robert Gagne is the author of the Conditions of Learning theory. He is well known for his book, titled The Conditions of Learning, written in 1965. In addition, he published a popular article in 1962, Military Training and the Principles of Learning. Gagne's theory is a tried and true model of an effective instructional design.  


     The charts below illustrates the steps that Gagne emphasizes as important for teaching each learning objective:

The Nine Steps of Instructional Design
    Gagne cited 9 important events that are necessary for effective learning and should guide a teacher's instructional design. The steps include:
  1. Gain Attention: This step is necessary to draw the student into the content and to grab their attention.
  2. Inform the Learner of the Objective: This piece is important to prepare students for what they are about to learn. When students don't know what they're about to learn, it would be similar to going to see a movie you know nothing about.
  3. Stimulate Recall of Prior Knowledge: Making connections to prior knowledge builds a solid foundation in new learning. Recalling what students already know and connecting it to knew knowledge really solidifies meaning.
  4. Present the Material: Delivering material to students must be done systematically and must be task-analyzed, or chunked. Giving too much information at one time can cause confusion, not retention.
  5. Provide Guidance: This is where the techer shows the student exactly what to do, or, models.
  6. Elicit Performance: Learners learn by doing. Letting students try it for themselves is a huge part of their learning.
  7. Provide Feedback: Giving students feedback on their performance is good for the student and the teacher. Helping students to fix mistakes or praising them specifically for their achievement is very important.
  8. Assess Performance: A check for understanding, whether formal or informal, is necessary to find out whether students have mastered the objective.
  9. Enhance Retention and Transfer: This step is truly important. Getting students to be able to use their learned skill in various situations is crucial.   
Background Information
    Robert Gagne was born in 1916 in New Andover, Massachussetts. He graduated from Yale University with his A.B. and graduated with his PhD. in Psychology from Brown University in 1940. Gagne worked in the Air Force as a research director of the perceptual and motor skills laboratory. While conducting his research there, he began to form his ideas that made up his theory of Conditions of Learning. Gagne published many books and articles relating to his learning theory. He also worked at Florida State University as a Professor in the Department of Educational Research. Gagne's instructional theory has been a prominent force in the area of instructional design and his influence will be felt for years to come. Robert Gagne passed away in 2002.