Nine events of instruction

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"Nine events of instruction" is an instructional design model put together by Gagne. This is a behaviorist model that also draws from cognitivism.

The conditions of learning

“Essential to Gagne's ideas of instruction are what he calls "conditions of learning." He breaks these down into internal and external conditions. The internal conditions deal with previously learned capabilities of the learner. Or in other words, what the learner knows prior to the instruction. The external conditions deal with the stimuli (a purely behaviorist term) that is presented externally to the learner. For example, what instruction is provided to the learner.” (Cory, 1996)

Gagné's most essential ingrediants of teaching are:

  • presenting the knowledge or demonstrating the skill
  • providing practice with feedback
  • providing learner guidance

These elements have to be designed differently according to the type of learning level (learning goal) to be achieved. For Gagné, instructional design means to first identify the goal (a learning outcome) and then construct the learning hierarchy, i.e. do a task analysis of skills needed to perform a measurable activitiy that demonstrates a learning goal.

The nine events of instruction

Gagne's 9 general steps of instruction for learning are:

  1. Gain attention:
    • e.g. present a good problem, a new situation, use a multimedia advertisement, ask questions.
    • This helps to ground the lesson, and to motivate
  2. Describe the goal:
    • e.g. state what students will be able to accomplish and how they will be able to use the knowledge, give a demonstration if appropriate.
    • Allows students to frame information, i.e. treat it better.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior knowledge
    • e.g. remind the student of prior knowledge relevant to the current lesson (facts, rules, procedures or skills). Show how knowledge is connected, provide the student with a framework that helps learning and remembering. Tests can be included.
  4. Present the material to be learned
    • e.g. text, graphics, simulations, figures, pictures, sound, etc. Chunk information (avoid memory overload, recall information).
  5. Provide guidance for learning
    • e.g. presentation of content is different from instructions on how to learn. Use of different channel (e.g. side-boxes)
  6. Elicit performance "practice"
    • let the learner do something with the newly acquired behavior, practice skills or apply knowledge. At least use MCQ's.
  7. Provide informative feedback ,
    • show correctness of the trainee's response, analyze learner's behavior, maybe present a good (step-by-step) solution of the problem
  8. Assess performance test, if the lesson has been learned. Also give sometimes general progress information
  9. Enhance retention and transfer :
    • e.g. inform the learner about similar problem situations, provide additional practice. Put the learner in a transfer situation. Maybe let the learner review the lesson.

“The way Gagne's theory is put into practice is as follows. First of all, the instructor determines the objectives of the instruction. These objectives must then be categorized into one of the five domains of learning outcomes. Each of the objectives must be stated in performance terms using one of the standard verbs (i.e. states, discriminates, classifies, etc.) associated with the particular learning outcome. The instructor then uses the conditions of learning for the particular learning outcome to determine the conditions necessary for learning. And finally, the events of instruction necessary to promote the internal process of learning are chosen and put into the lesson plan. The events in essence become the framework for the lesson plan or steps of instruction.” (Corry, 1996)

See also instructional curriculum map for planning at larger scale.



  • Robert Gagne from (Includes a table of learning outcomes with examples and associated learning conditions).


  • Aronson, Dennis T., & Leslie J.Briggs, (1983). "Contributions of Gagné and Briggs to a Prescriptive Model of Instruction", in Reigeluth, C.M. (1983) (e.d). Instructional Design Theories and Models: An Overview of their Current Status. Hillsdale, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Corry, Michael, Gagne's Theory of Instruction, George Washington University, Webpage, HTML retrieved 21:13, 3 October 2006 (MEST).
  • Driscoll, M.(1991) Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Allyn and Bacon.
  • Gagne, Robert M., Briggs, Leslie, J., Wager, Walter, F. (1985). Principles of Instructional Design, Wadsworth, ISBN 0030347572
  • Killpatrick, L. (2001). Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction. In B. Hoffman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. HTML retrieved October 3, 2006.