The Work of Robert Gagné
The fundamental concern of instructional design is the creation of more effective learning environments for learners. In order to do this, instructional designers must consider the various learning styles and stages of development of the learners as they interact with course material and develop a mature understanding of a topic.
According to Ormrod (1995), theories of learning provide explanations about the underlying mechanisms involved in the learning process. Theories allow us to summarize the results of many research studies and integrate numerous principle of learning. Principles of learning identify specific factors that consistently influence learning and describe the particular effects that these factors have. Studies have shown given the same piece of information, individuals interpret it differently and learn it at different rates through different methods. Thus, the challenge of effective instruction is not only delivering the desired instruction, but in a way that learners of various background, skills, and experiences can take that learning into their personal world of knowledge and make it their own. By addressing the fundamental concern of instructional design and incorporating learning theories to support the process of learning, Robert Gagné's instructional design theory has emerged as a primary model used for effective instructional design. This paper will outline Gagné's instructional design theory and provide information on how it is applied to instructional technology.
Gagné's Instructional Design Theory
"Instructional design theories, such as Gagné's theory, take the cognitivist paradigm one logical step further by claiming that an instructional plan can generate both appropriate environmental stimuli and instructional interactions, and thereby bring about a change in the cognitive structures and operations of the learner (Streibel, 1995) (pg. 147)." Robert Gagné investigated the foundations of effective instruction, which he referred to as conditions of learning. According to Gagné (1988), the purpose of psychology is to observe conditions under which learning occurs and to describe them in objective terms. Thus, his conditions of learning are the various sets of observable circumstances that can be set up for learning to occur (Gagné & Driscoll, 1988). Gagné also believed we could enhance learning by identifying and distinguishing the variety of capabilities. His theory has three major components: conditions of learning, learning outcomes, and the nine events of instructions.
In Gagné's 1985 book, The Conditions of Learning, he distinguished eight different conditions of learning in which learner learn with the assumption that different capabilities require different conditions.
1. Signal Learning - The individual learns to make a general response to a signal similar to the
classical conditioned response of Pavlov.