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Robert Gagne

Page history last edited by James Workman 9 years, 5 months ago

Robert Gagne 1916-2002

Providing a sequence of instruction to organize a lesson

Presented by James Workman


Historical Context of Work

Born:  1916

Died:  2002

Robert Gagne was born into an industrial society that was experiencing tremendous advancements in technology and travel.  Gagne was interested in making the educational process more efficient and effective.


Education and Influences


Yale, A.B., 1937

Brown, Ph. D. 1940


Gagne was influenced by his work on military training problems and his experience doing consulting work for the U.S. Department of Defense.  He was influenced by Ivan Pavlov and his conditioned reflex theory. 

Work Life

Robert Gagne was a professor by the age of 24 starting at Connecticut College and Penn State University.  Dr. Gagne then went on to become director of Perceptual and Motor Skills Laboratory for the U.S. Air Force.   In 1965 Robert Gagne wrote The Conditions of Learning, which is the work that he is best known for.  Gagne proposed a sequence of nine instructional events that are necessary for effective instruction that are still in use today. 

Professor, Connecticut College (1940-1949)

Professor, Penn State University  (1945-1946)

Director of Perceptual and Motor Skills Laboratory, U.S. Air Force (1949-58)

Director of Research, American Institute of research (1962-1965)

Professor, Florida State University (1969-1985)


Impact on Best Practices

What are conditions needed to enhance student learning?

Conditions of Learning

  1. Get attention
  2. Give the learner an objective
  3. Connect material to previously taught concepts
  4. Present stimulus material
  5. Provide learner guidance
  6. Eliciting the performance
  7. Provide feedback
  8. Assess performance
  9. Enhance retention and transfer


How do you make the content relevant to individual students?

Central to Gagne's theory on conditions of learning is that instruction must be designed specifically in the context of the learner's needs.

How do you reach all children in a diverse class?

Instruction should be designed to include a variety of instructional methods in order to meet the needs of different learners

Problems or Failures

Gagne did not really have any failures; however it did take a while for some of his theories to become accepted.

Other Interesting Facts

Gagne started developin his learning theories by trying to create a program for military training which is the foundation for his Conditions of Learning.

Impact on Others

Reiser & Richey-Gagne’s The Conditions of Learning is still in use today.  They believe that the nine events are still the foundation of current instructional design practice.  “Gagne has been a central figure in the infusion of psychology into the field, and indeed in the creation of the domain of instructional design.”


Fields, Dennis-Gagne has influenced teaching and curriculum development through research and theory.  Gagne was always aware of the gap between theory and practice and addressed this gap by focusing his investigations on practical problems.  Finally, a quote by him, “Gagne’s theories and research have had significant impact on practitioners in general and of instructional designers in specific.”



Fields, D. (1996).   The Impact of Gagne’s Theories on Practice. Eric Publicatons.


Gagne, R. (1985). The Conditions of Learning (4th Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston .


McGovern, C. & Bray, B. (2007). Instructional Development Timeline. Retrieved from  http://my-ecoach.com/project.php?id=12152&project_step=28465


Richey, R. (2000). The Legacy of Robert Gagne. Eric Publications.


Learning Theory. Retrieved from http://www.csulb.edu/~dkumrow/conference/learning_theory.html



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