A guide to Gagné's Nine Events of Instruction


Gagné's Nine Events of Instruction model is a nine-step process for good instructional design.

It'll help you build a framework that you can use to prepare and deliver learning guidance.

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Learning theories: Introducing the Nine Events of Instruction

Teachers and educators need strategies that help students pick up new skills and new knowledge. Thankfully, we can borrow from Robert Gagné's considerable brain. He was an American educational psychologist who understood the learning process inside out.

Gagné is most famous for his 1965 book Conditions of Learning. The book also presents Gagné's model for nine instructional events and the corresponding mental conditions for learning.

These conditions are based on an information processing model that focuses on what happens in students' brains when they're shown a stimulus. You can use it to help students' learning outcomes. We're going to show you how it can help to create a mind-enhancing learning environment.

Want to create an eLearning storyboard? Learn the best practices in our step-by-step guide.

Start by writing learning objectives

Before you dive into Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction, it's a smart idea to think about your course goals and learning objectives. This will give you the context you need for the nine events, so you can make sure they fit the content and your students' knowledge.

Lucky for you, we've written a post all about it: The guide to writing learning objectives

Robert Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

1. Gaining attention (reception)


Make sure your students are ready to learn by presenting a stimulus that gets their attention.


  • Use something novel, unusual, or surprising to gain attention
  • Offer a thought-provoking question that gets students thinking
  • Ask students to pose questions for other people in the class to answer

2. Informing learners of the objective (expectancy)


Tell students what they'll be able to do by the end of the session.


  • Describe in detail what students have to do
  • Let students know the criteria for success
  • Explain how the learning will benefit them

3. Stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval)


Help students get a sense of the new information you're presenting by relating it to something they already know.


  • Ask questions about students' prior knowledge of the topic
  • Talk about students' understanding of previous concepts
  • Give students an example of an experience that's similar to what they're learning
  • Get students with more experience to work in a group with less experienced students

4. Presenting the content (selective perception)


Present students with new information, using learning strategies so that your instruction is effective. Organise and chunk content in a meaningful way, and give explanations when needed.


  • Organise your information in a clear way that's easy to understand
  • Share key vocabulary for the topic
  • Provide examples
  • Present multiple versions of the same content in different media (video, demonstration, PowerPoint, lecture, podcast, group work) to suit different learning styles

5. Providing learning guidance (semantic encoding)


Use a mix of different strategies and resources to help students learn the content.


  • Provide support as needed – like cues, hints, and prompts
  • Model different learning strategies – like concept maps, role play, and visualisations
  • Use examples as well as non-examples (to show students what not to do)
  • Highlight case studies, analogies and metaphors to support knowledge construction and real-world application
  • Cue and prompt learning with mnemonics

6. Eliciting performance (responding)


Give students something active to do to help them internalise their new skills, knowledge, or behaviour. This shows that they understand the concepts.


  • Ask students to do something with their newly-acquired behaviour
  • Present deep questions and get students to collaborate with their classmates
  • Encourage students to recall, revisit and reiterate what they've learned
  • Ask students to provide detailed responses that elaborate on basic knowledge
  • Help students integrate knowledge by providing content in real-world contexts

7. Providing feedback (reinforcement)


Give immediate feedback to students on their performance. Explain why they’re right or wrong in a constructive way.


  • Tell students what they did or were supposed to do (confirmatory feedback)
  • Let students know how accurate their response was, and what they need to do to improve (corrective and remedial feedback)
  • Help students find the answer, but don't provide it (remedial feedback)
  • Give information that helps the student understand their performance (informative feedback)
  • Present suggestions, recommendations and more information that encourages deeper connections (analytical feedback)

8. Assessing performance (retrieval)


Figure out how effective your instruction is by testing students. This will let you know whether you've achieved your planned learning outcomes.


  • Test students before beginning the learning to see how much they already know
  • Test students after the learning to see how much knowledge or skills they gained
  • Ask questions throughout the course – either verbally or through quizzes
  • Use objective criteria to measure how well the student's mastered the content

9. Enhancing retention and transfer (generalisation)


Get students to internalise new knowledge by using it in their own settings.


  • Paraphrase ideas
  • Use metaphors to aid learning
  • Generate examples
  • Make concept maps or outlines


  • Bates, B. (2016). Learning Theories Simplified. Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Gagné, R., Briggs, L. & Wager, W. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design (4th Ed.). Fort Worth, TX: HBJ College.
  • Gagné, R. & Driscoll, M. (1988). Essentials of Learning for Instruction (2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Gagné, R. (1987). Instructional Technology Foundations. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  • Gagné, R. (1985). The Conditions of Learning (4th Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

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