Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction


You are probably familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, but how about Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction? Robert Gagne is considered the father of instructional design, and he laid out the 9 Events in his book, The Conditions of Learning (1965). Like Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gagne’s 9 Events are a great tool in the development of instruction.

Here they are, with applications appropriate for library-related instruction:

  1. Gain Attention. In order to learn, students need to be pay attention. Gaining attention at the beginning of a lesson prepares your students for learning.
    • Show a brief Youtube video, ask a thoughtful question (with a larger class, ask a clicker question), present a striking image, an unusual fact, or a great quote. Anything that will grab your students’ attention. It should somehow be relevant to the instructional content though.
  2. Inform learners of objectives. Students need to know what they are expected to learn by the end of the lesson. Informing students of the learning objectives gives them a purpose for learning and helps them to focus on what they are about to learn.
    • If information literacy is a part of the curriculum, then the course’s syllabus should include IL objectives for the semester. During an instructional session, students should be informed of that lesson’s learning objectives (i.e. what will they know by the end of the session?). Include them in your lecture slides, on handouts, etc…
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning. It’s easier to learn new skills when you are able to connect them to what you already know.
    • Have students discuss prior experiences with writing papers and/or doing research (even if that research is non-academic per se). Discuss your own experiences as a college student with writing research papers.
  4. Present the content.
    • Present the same material in different ways and with different modes, such as lecture, hands-on activities, problems, case studies, etc… Use examples and non-examples. Avoid redundancy when presenting material (i.e.  don’t read your presentation slides).
  5. Provide “learning guidance.” During activities, students should be provided with guidance in order to cut down on frustration.
    • Use Think Sheets, rubrics, or anything that explicitly communicates instructions and expectations. WebQuests are particularly useful for providing both structure and learning guidance.
  6. Elicit performance (practice). Students should be given ample opportunity to practice and apply skills.
    • If possible, provide students with a good 20 to 30 minutes to simply practice the skills they’ve been taught. For example, at the very end of an IL session, let them get started on their own research papers. This gives you the opportunity to work with students individually.
  7. Provide feedback. Feedback helps students gauge their own learning.
    • Clicker questions are one way to provide feedback during a one-shot session. Encouraging (or requiring) students to ask for help in the library provides additional opportunity for feedback. And ideally, if a librarian is embedded in a course, having access to students’ work in progress allows librarians to give ongoing feedback.
  8. Assess performance. Allows students to identify content areas that still need to be mastered.
    • For librarians, assessing student performance needs to be a collaborative effort with the classroom instructor. For example, librarians could work with instructors in the development of rubrics for research assignments. Additionally, encouraging instructors to break up research assignments into graded components will help students to assess their performance as they move through the course.
  9. Enhance retention and transfer. When students are able to apply new skills and knowledge in a personal context, they are more likely to retain those skills.
    • Librarians can help instructors design research assignments that are relevant to students. This may be a personalized topic or may come in the form of assignment choices, such as a digital story, a wiki, or other alternative form of research assignment.

Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction are very useful in developing instructional materials. The 9 Events are not necessarily sequential though. They should be viewed more as a framework for designing instruction. And you may not use all 9 events within a single lesson plan.

Click here for a handy chart of the 9 Events of Instruction.

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