9-Step Instructional Process that Just Works

Back in 1965, Robert Gagne detailed a nine-step instructional process that many teachers, trainers, and instructional designers still use today when creating their learning events. The steps are not meant to be absolute rules, but they do provide a a good place to start during the creation process. Truth is, there are many design models you can use, so feel free to just add this one to your toolbox as it could very well prove useful.

1. Gain Attention – In the beginning of any training course, it is helpful to present a new problem or scenario to pique the interest of the audience and to grab their attention. There are a variety of ways to do this, but usually some kind of story is effective.

2. Describe the Objective – After you have gained the attention of the learners, you need to inform them about what they will be able to accomplish, and how they will use the new knowledge they are about to gain. The key here is to make it relevant to them. If it makes something in their lives easier, then let them know!

3. Stimulate Recall of Prior Knowledge – Remind the learners of related information or knowledge that they already have to help them build on previously gained knowledge and skills. This helps the anxiety people naturally feel when they sense that something is going to “change” from what they previously have known.

4. Present the Material – Once items one through three have been established, you can present the material. Use various methods, like text, videos, images, sounds, and simulations. Present the material in small chunks so as to avoid information overload.

5. Provide Learner Guidance – Provide guidance strategies like examples, case studies, apologies, and mnemonic devices to help learners store the new information in their long-term memories.

6. Elicit Performance (Practice) – Allow the learner to practice the new skill or behavior they are learning. This provides an opportunity for learners to confirm their understanding, and even to fail in a safe environment.

7. Feedback – Provide learners with specific and immediate feedback when they are practicing the new skill or behavior they have learned. Explain in detail the concept to those who are not as quick at picking it up. Give more than “you’re right” or “you’re wrong” feedback.

8. Assess Performance – After ample practice has been given, test the learners to determine if the lesson has indeed been learned.

9. Enhance Retention & Transfer – Provide the learners with additional practice and materials (job aids, quick reference guides, additional tests) so that they may review the material on their own time at a later date.