Understanding Conditions of Learning: Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction by@onyawoibi

Understanding Conditions of Learning: Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction

Celine Aju  HackerNoon profile picture

Celine Aju

Script Writer @ Street School Education Tutor Experience Manager @ Tuteria

There are a plethora of models and methods applied by instructional designers in developing instruction as a learning solution. Depending on the audience and anticipated outcome Gagne`s  9 events can come in handy when crafting the course content and  understanding the conditions of learning. It is particularly useful for determining the most suitable condition to ensure learning for each learning outcome.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Gagne`s 9 Levels of Learning

    1. The conditions of learning
    2. The taxonomy of learning outcomes
    3. The events of instruction.
  2. A review of the ( events of learning

  3. Strengths

  4. Weaknesses

  5. Thank you Gagnes!

What is Gagne`s 9 Levels of Learning

Gagne`s 9 theory also referred to as Gagne`s 9 events of instruction is an instructional design model that uses cognitive information processing to develop learning objectives. It can be used to build a framework necessary to prepare instructional content while addressing and considering conditions for learning.

Gagne`s 9 Levels of learning can be divided into three categories namely

  • Taxonomy of learning outcomes,
  • The conditions of learning,
  • The events of instruction.


The Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes

Gagne`s taxonomy consists of five categories of learning outcomes:

  1. Verbal information: stating information;
  2. Intellectual skills: solving problems by applying concepts and rules, reacting to groups of stimuli rather than single examples;
  3. Cognitive strategies: inventing new answers to issues, experimenting with various methods for regulating one's thought/learning process;
  4. Attitudes: choosing to behave in a particular way); and
  5. Motor skills: performing bodily motions in a smooth and orderly manner. **

The theory begins with an instructor identifying the objectives of instruction;

Then categorizing the objectives into one of the five domains of learning outcomes;

After which each objective is stated using performance-based terms associated with a particular learning outcome;

This is followed by the instructor using the conditions of learning to determine the necessary learning condition to ensure learning for each learning outcome;

In the end, the events of instruction necessary to promote the internal process of learning are selected and put into a lesson plan.

The Conditions of Learning

Gagne explains the conditions of learning by dividing them into external and internal conditions.  The internal conditions refer to previously learned capabilities of the learner also described as what the learner knew prior to instruction. While external conditions refer to stimuli that are presented to the learner externally.

The 9 Events of Instruction Explained

The 9 events of instruction are a culmination of all Gagne`s research aimed at explaining the transfer of knowledge or information from perception through the stages of memory. These 9 levels were derived from the cognitive information processing learning theory.

Robert Gagne explains that learning can be organised in a hierarchy based on complexity

Recognizing stimulus, generating a response, following procedures, using terminology, discrimination, formulating concepts, applying rules, and solving problems.  This hierarchy is essential for the identification of prerequisites necessary to facilitate learning at each level. In outlining the nine instructional events, Gagne also highlighted corresponding cognitive processes.


  1. Gain the attention of the Students (Reception)

Present a stimulus to attract the learners' attention and ensure that they are ready to learn and participate in activities.

Here are a few ideas for grabbing students' attention:

  • Novelty, uncertainty, and surprise should be used to pique pupils' interest.
  • Pose pupils with thought-provoking questions.
  • Pupils should ask questions that will be answered by other students.
  • Organize an ice-breaker activity for the group.
  1. Inform students of the Objectives (Expectancy)

To help students comprehend what they are expected to learn and do, inform them of the course's and individual classes' objectives or outcomes. Before you start teaching, make sure you have certain goals in mind.

Here are some ways to express the results:

  • Describe the expected performance.
  • Describe the performance criteria for standard performance.
  • Assign learners the task of developing performance standards.
  • Incorporate course objectives into assessment prompts.
  1. Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning (Retrieval)

Assist pupils in making sense of new knowledge by connecting it to something they already know or have experienced.

There are numerous techniques for increasing recall:

  • Inquire about previous experiences.
  • Inquire with students about their comprehension of previous concepts.
  • Connect previous course material to the current topic.
  • Allow students to incorporate prior knowledge into current activities.
  1. Present the Content ( Selective perception)

To deliver more effective training, use techniques to present and communicate course content. Structure and group content in logical ways, and follow demonstrations with explanations.

The following are some examples of how to present and cue content in a lesson:

  • Multiple versions of the same content should be presented (e.g. video, demonstration, lecture, podcast, group work, etc.)

  • Use a range of mediums to keep pupils interested in what they're learning.

  • To keep children engaged, incorporate active learning practices.

  • Make content available on Blackboard so that students can access it outside of class.

  1. Provide Learning Guidance (Semantic encoding)
  • Advise students on how to use ways to help them understand information and what resources are accessible to them. To put it another way, assist kids in learning how to learn.

  • The following are some examples of learning guidance methods:

  • As needed, provide instructional support, such as scaffolding that can be gradually removed as the student learns and masters the task or material. Model a variety of learning tactics, such as mnemonics, idea mapping, role-playing, and visualizing.

  • Use both examples and non-examples; examples show pupils what to do, while non-examples show them what not to do.

  • Provide case studies, visual pictures, analogies, and metaphors — Case studies provide real-world examples, visual images aid with a visual association, and analogies and metaphors help people think about things in new ways. To help pupils connect with new concepts, use familiar information.

  1. Elicit Performance (Responding)
  • Students should use what they've learned to reinforce new skills and information, as well as to validate that they've grasped the course principles correctly.
  • Here are a few ideas for getting learner processing going:
  • Ask deep-learning questions, have students collaborate with their classmates, and promote practical laboratory experiments to name a few examples.
  • Provide chances for formative evaluation, such as written assignments, individual or group projects, and presentations.
  • Create excellent quizzes and examinations, which allow students to demonstrate their understanding and application of course content (as opposed to simply memorization and recall)
  1. Provide Feedback (reinforcement)
  • Give timely feedback on students' performance in order to assess and support learning, as well as to assist students to recognize comprehension gaps before it's too late.

  • Here are some examples of feedback you could provide students:

  • Confirmatory feedback assures the student that they completed the task at hand. This form of feedback encourages the learner rather than telling her what she needs to improve on.

  • Evaluative feedback informs students on the accuracy of their performance or response, but it does not offer suggestions for how to improve.

  • Students are directed to locate the correct answer by remedial feedback, but the correct answer is not provided.

  • Descriptive or analytic feedback provides suggestions, directives, and information to the learner in order to assist them to improve their performance.

  • Learners can use peer and self-evaluation to uncover learning gaps and performance flaws in their own and their peers' work.

  1. Assess Performance (retrieval)
  • Examine whether the predicted learning results for the previously mentioned course objectives have been met.

  • The following are some examples of learning assessment methods:

  • Pre- and post-tests should be given to determine whether or not students have progressed in terms of content or skills.

  • Use oral questioning, short active learning exercises, or quizzes to incorporate formative evaluation chances into your lessons.

  • Provide students with several opportunities to demonstrate proficiency by using a variety of evaluation methods.

  • To evaluate written assignments, projects, or presentations, create objective, effective rubrics.

  1. Enhance Retention and Transfer (Generalization)
  • Assist students in retaining more knowledge by allowing them to connect classroom concepts to possible real-world applications.

  • The following are some strategies for assisting students in internalizing new information:

  • Do not isolate course information is not a good idea.

  • To reinforce links, associate course concepts with earlier (and future) concepts and build on prior (and anticipate future) learning.

  • Incorporate questions from past tests into subsequent exams on a regular basis to reinforce course material.

  • Students should be asked to convert material from one format to another (e.g. verbal or visuospatial).

These nine events should provide the conditions for learning and serve as the basis for designing instruction and selecting appropriate media.

A Review of the Levels of Learning


As an instructional designer, the domains of learning outcomes help me organize my thoughts during the analysis phase. It helps me identify the learning objectives which helps me create a structure for the learning scenario I am building and it has helped me better understand the types of learning to expect from my students.


However, I have come to realize from experience that some goals are easier to identify and classify into learning outcomes than others. In applying Gagne`s 9 levels of learning I have occasionally struggled with identifying what categories some learning objectives fit into. This process has required extensive reading and the expanding of large amounts of mental energy.

Furthermore, I have found that instructors struggle with the rigid nature of performance verbs used to express goals.

Thank you, Robert Gagne!

As an instructional designer in the 21st Century, I am extremely grateful for this framework which helps me develop lessons plans, structure the learning environment to ensure it is optimal for learning, follow a hierarchy of learning that is measurable, and understand the conditions of learning. Thank you Robert Gagne for developing the 9 events of learning!

More in Instructional Design

  1. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/gagne.htm
  2. https://hackernoon.com/6-levels-of-learning-in-blooms-taxonomy-from-1d-to-2d-realm
  3. https://hackernoon.com/the-addie-training-model-of-instructional-design-an-in-depth-analysis


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