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Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction: Time tested approach to successful instruction

Oftentimes instructors need a simple, repeatable process to help them when they are in the weeds of course design. One such process is Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction.  Robert Gagné was an American educational psychologist best known for developing multiple systems for simplifying and delivering instruction. He pioneered the science of instruction during World War II when he worked with the Army Air Corps training pilots.. Gagné was also involved in applying concepts of instructional theory to the design of computer-based training and multimedia-based learning.

Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction, along with examples, are listed below. (Courtesy of the Educational Technology website.)

puzzle pieces representing Gagne's nine events of instruction

1. Gain attention

Get the students primed and focused, so they’re ready to learn the topic at hand.

  • Use attention-grabbing “ice breaker-type” leading questions or challenges
  • Throw out a bit of interesting trivia about a controversial current event
  • Ask their opinions and comments about an entertaining topic
  • Bring out eye-catching visuals and audio stimuli

2. Inform learners of objectives

Tell students what they’ll learn during the lesson to get them in the proper state of mind and so they can anticipate what they’ll need to do afterward.

  • Deliver this information via slides, a written syllabus, or other formats
  • Include complete details about assignments, readings, activities, etc.

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning

Prime students for learning new material by refreshing their memories of prior-learned content.

  • Conduct summaries of past lessons
  • Explain how you’ll scaffold upon the foundation of prior lessons
  • Connect the material from the past to the current lesson and bridge the gap
  • Utilize discussion forums if teaching online.

4. Present the content

Once the environment is ready and students are receptive and primed, it’s time to teach the applicable lesson.

  • Ensure you did your homework and devised a carefully planned out lesson
  • Keep things flexible enough to allow for discussions
  • Incorporate a variety of content delivery methods to keep students engaged, such as audiovisual content, readings, group projects, and other creative ideas
  • Demonstrate through physical methods when applicable and appropriate
  • Allow for hands-on practice when feasible
  • Leverage the power of technology and the Internet whenever lessons can be tailored around it

5. Provide “learning guidance”

Explain clearly to students what is expected for them to understand and any instructions needed to achieve successful outcomes.

  • Don’t make students guess what they’re supposed to be learning or doing
  • Offer examples of what is acceptable versus what is not
  • Make relevant facts and guidance clear, not ambiguous
  • Use graphs, timelines, stories, rubrics, role-playing, mnemonic memory tricks, and anything else that helps students comprehend and store pertinent information

6. Elicit performance (practice)

Instruct students to practice or demonstrate their newfound knowledge so it can be assessed.

  • Be sure all steps above have been completed and that students are aware they’ll be assessed and given feedback
  • Create a stress-free environment where students can focus on showing their understanding of what was taught
  • Have students practice in groups, when possible
  • Offer a range of practice opportunities, including lab work and other hands-on activities
  • Use scaffolding techniques to ensure practice builds upon previous work and sets the stage for future work

7. Provide feedback

Offer immediate feedback on student tasks that is personalized, constructive, and positive.

  • Remember the different types of feedback and use the correct type for every circumstance:
    • Confirmatory — telling a student if they’re complying with guidance or not
    • Evaluative — appraising student work quality but without giving details
    • Remedial — guiding students to find the correct answer without telling it to them
    • Descriptive or analytic feedback — boosting student performance by giving extra assistance
    • Peer-evaluation and self-evaluation — having students help each other and themselves
  • Use formative feedback for brief assignments, and summative for fuller assessments
  • Incorporate technology tools including software that can expedite actions and increase efficiency

8. Assess performance

Conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine how well students met their learning objectives so learning gaps can be addressed.

  • Use a mix of assessment tools, including but not limited to standard tests, pre- and post-lesson quizzes, essays, activities, and hands-on assignments
  • Be transparent, objective, and fair in all assessments
  • Grade work against pre-established criteria and evaluation rubrics
  • Remember that one assessment isn’t a gauge of ability; take into consideration the unique aspects of the applicable learner as well as any obstacles to learning they may face

9. Enhance retention and transfer

Teachers should do everything possible to help students retain the information they worked so hard to learn and give them chances to personalize their learned experience to apply it to their own life or job.

  • Ask students to write an essay describing how the lesson impacted them and what they might do with the new information
  • Assemble students into discussion groups and provide prompts for them to talk about
  • If the lesson is conducive to a hands-on activity related to practical, customized use of the information given, have students complete such activities either in class or as homework

In Conclusion

As stated on 

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is a highly-organized, action-oriented methodology that empowers educators with a solid framework they can use to increase teaching efficacy in virtually any setting. It’s flexible enough to be modified for a wide range of circumstances and simple enough to be readily incorporated into your existing lesson plans. The emphasis is firmly placed on the learner and teachers doing everything possible to ensure students capture, retain, and use the information taught to them. In this regard, it’s every teacher’s dream come true!

If you have questions or would like a consultation on how to implement Gagne’s Nine Events in Brightspace, contact Paul Keys at

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