Monday, May 18, 2009

Heroes of Learning # 1 - Robert Gagne

Today, to accompany my back to basics series I am commencing something I have wanted to do for a while; my heroes of learning, i.e. those theorists who still have an impact on how I design learning that I know will have an impact on my final product. Today's hero is Robert >Gagne and his "Conditions of Learning" theory.

His theory posits several different types or levels of learning. The significance of these is that each different type requires different types of instruction.

>Gagne identifies five major categories of learning:
  • verbal information,
  • intellectual skills,
  • cognitive strategies,
  • motor skills and
  • attitudes.

In addition, the theory lists and describes nine instructional events and corresponding cognitive processes:

  1. gaining attention (reception)
  2. informing learners of the objective (expectancy)
  3. stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval)
  4. presenting the stimulus (selective perception)
  5. providing learning guidance (semantic encoding)
  6. eliciting performance (responding)
  7. providing feedback (reinforcement)
  8. assessing performance (retrieval)
  9. enhancing retention and transfer (generalization).

These events should satisfy or provide the necessary conditions for learning and serve as the basis for designing instruction and selecting appropriate media (>Gagne, Briggs & Wager, 1992).

The reason I have started with >Gagne is that over my 20 years in this field, his theory has served me time an again whether the work has been minor or major or whether there has been time constraints or not.

IMHO, "Conditions of Learning" returns, in the most part, positive outcomes for the learning that one has to design.

If you have not experienced Gagne's work please take the time to do so. You will be justly rewarded.

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