Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction and Constructivist Theory by Diane

Comparison of Instructional Design Learning Theories

Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

Definition: A prominent theorist in the field of instructional design, Robert Gagne first introduced his “nine events of instruction” in 1965 in his book The Conditions of Learning. As Driscoll (2000) tells us, “With behaviorist roots, it now brings together a cognitive information-processing perspective on learning with empirical findings of what good teachers do in their classrooms” (p.144).

Gagne’s nine events of instruction is how the theory is put into action. The sequential order of events the teacher uses to present the material to the students is: 1) gaining attention 2) informing the learner of the objective 3) stimulating recall of prior knowledge 4) presenting the stimulus material 5) providing learning guidance 6) eliciting performance 7) providing feedback 8) assessing performance and 9) enhancing retention and transfer (Gagne & Dick, 1983, p.261).

The events of instruction were initially developed for military training but now are used in various training/educational settings, even in IM 404/504:)

Strengths: Works well for lesson planning and ideal for the novice instructional designer
Gives the instructor a framework to base their lesson

Limitations: Considered “old” by many in the instructional design field

Constructivist Theory

Definition: A more recent theory introduced into the instructional design and educational world is constructivism. In the constructivist world, instructional environments are created that are student-centered, student-directed and collaborative. The teacher is the supporter and facilitator of the learning process. Students are empowered to make choices about what and how they learn so the shift is from everyone learning the same material to each learner learning different things (Karagiorgi, 2005).

Strengths: Learners take ownership of their collaborative work
Learners are place in authentic situations that provide meaning to them

Weaknesses: Viewed as extreme by many designers (Richey, 1996)
True constructivist learning leaves the learner in total control of the instructional process, including selection of objectives and learning
activities (Richey, 1996)

Blended Application of the Two Theories

Gagne's nine events of instruction provide a solid framework where within this, constructivist activities for the learners can be incorporated, thus providing a "well-rounded environment" (Stollings, 2007).

An example is as follows:

Step 4 - Presenting the Material: Have students create websites, wikis, blogs, incorporate games
Step 6 - Eliciting Performance: Encoruage interactiviity through the use of social software like Skype
Step 7 - Providing feedback: Set up caht rooms for peer feedback/collaboration
Step 8 - Assessing the performance : Have students self-assess their progress
(Stollings, 2007)


Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. (2009). The systematic design of instruction (7th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.

Driscoll, M.P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. Boston : Allyn and Bacon.

Gagné, R. M., & Dick, W. (1983). Instructional psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 34, 261. Retrieved from:

Johnston, S., & Mitchell, M. (2000). Teaching the FHS way. MultiMedia Schools, 7(4), 52-55. Retrieved from:

Kruse, K. (2004). Gagne's nine events of instruction: An introduction. Retrieve from:

Reyes, D. J. (1990). Models of instruction. Clearing House, 63(5), 214.

Richey, R. C. (2000). The legacy of Robert M. Gagné. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University.

Stollings,L. (2007). Robert Gagne’s nine learning events: Instructional design for dummies Retrieved from:

Created by: Diane Crossley Gurda