In this unit you will be introduced to many of the issues to understanding and applying Gagne's Instructional Design Theory for instructional design purposes. The objectives for this unit are these:
Textbook: Driscoll, Chapters 10, 12 (reread)
Available through course website:
Alutu, A.N.G. (2006). The guidance role of the instructor in the teaching and learning process. Journal of Instructional Psychology , 33 (1), 44-49.
Cunningham, D. J. (2005). May you teaching in interesting times , Ch 4. The Impact of the Cognitive Revolution on Educational Psychology, pp 87-103.
Deubel, P. (2003). An investigation of behaviorist and cognitive approaches to instructional multimedia design. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 12 (1), 63-90.
Kirchner, P. A., Sweller, J. & Clark, R. E. (June, 2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41 (2), 75-86.
Richey, R. (2000). The Legacy of Robert M. Gagne. Retrieved Thursday, July 27, 2006 from the ERIC database.
In this unit we make a distinctive crossing from theories of human learning to a particular, influential theory of instructional design. Robert M. Gagne's principles of instructional design, as Richey notes, “provide not only a theoretical orientation to an instructional design project, but also have prompted a number of design conventions and techniques” (p. 595). Also, as a way to bring this course to a close we end by returning to principles of Behaviorism and Cognitivism in light of what we've learned about Constructivism. The overall goal is to ensure you have a sound, working knowledge of these paradigms and a healthy skeptical view of any one being superior in all learning and instruction contexts.
Introduction to Gagne
Gagne's work has been particularly influential in training and the design of instructional materials. In fact, the idea that instruction can be systematically designed probably can be attributed to Gagne and a handful of others. It's interesting to speculate how his early work in Air Force training may have shaped his theory. Would is ideas have evolved differently had he been working with college students, or 3rd graders? Given the theorists and ideas we've covered in this class, there's a pretty good chance they would have. Lesson learned: Theorists and their theories are bound by history and context.
Gagne's theory is more properly classified as an instructional design theory, rather than a learning theory. A learning theory, you will recall, consists of a set of constructs and propositions that account for how changes in human performance abilities come about. An instructional theory seeks to describe the conditions under which one can intentionally arrange for the learning of specific performance outcomes. Instructional theories are often based on one or more learning theories, but there is rarely a simple correspondence between the two.
Gagne's instructional theory has three major elements. First, it is based on a taxonomy , or classification, of learning outcomes . Second, it proposes particular internal and external conditions necessary for achieving these learning outcomes . And third, it offers nine events of instruction , which serve as a template for developing and delivering a unit of instruction.
Gagne's taxonomy of learning outcomes
The notion of different “levels” of learning or knowing something is a very useful one in education. You have probably been in or observed a class where the teacher said she or he wanted to help students achieve high-level skills such as being able to analyze problems, evaluate cases, etc. Nevertheless, when you looked at the test items for the class, they mostly had to do with memorizing terms and definitions. This is a “learning-levels” problem.
For example, what does it mean to ask if someone “knows” a concept such as analysis of variance (ANOVA), a statistical procedure that some of us have encountered? Do we want to know if they can
* state or write the formula for ANOVA?
* explain what the formula means?
* use the formula correctly when told to do so?
* know when to use it, without being told?
* know how to interpret the results?
Gagne and others thought it was important for teachers and instructional designers to think carefully about the nature of the skill or task they wanted to teach, then to make sure that the learner had the necessary prerequisites to acquire that skill. Gagne also stressed that practice and assessment should match the target skill. In other words, if we want someone to know when to use an ANOVA, and be able to use it to answer real questions, then it is of little use to test them only on their ability to write the formula.
Of the five categories of learning outcomes Gagne proposes, the one that seems to have gotten the most attention is intellectual skills . It is important to understand that the five sub-categories of intellectual skills are believed to be hierarchical. That is, for a given skill at, say, the level of “defined concepts,” there should be underlying discriminations and concrete concepts that must first be mastered.
A common error in understanding Gagne's intellectual skill classifications is assuming too high” a level for discriminations and concrete concepts. Remember that, according to Gagne's definition, discrimination is a very low-level skill. It is simply the ability to recognize that one object or class of objects differs from another. But discrimination does not include the ability to name the class of objects. If the learners can do that, they have acquired a concept.
Similarly, remember that a concrete concept is one that can be defined entirely by the physical, perceptual features (appearance, sound, smell, etc.) of the object or event. If it takes any abstract reasoning ability, then it is a defined concept.
Here's an abbreviated definition of each of Gagne's outcome categories and sub-categories:
Lesson 7.1: summary & analysis
Concisely summarize what you have read and learned in this unit. Below are help and directions for completing this assignment.