Module 2 Expand and Share Activity
For this activity, I have chosen to expand and share about the Conditions of Learning, namely the external and internal conditions of the learner, under the (2.2) Instructional Theories of Conditions of Learning by Robert Gagne and Leslie Briggs.
Upon reading Module 2, I have recognized the importance of determining and understanding the external and internal conditions of learning as the primary considerations for the facilitator to be properly guided in establishing the objectives and in choosing the appropriate and effective instructional strategies.
In my quest to expand what I have learned about Gagne and Briggs’ instructional theory, I endeavored to look into the details that surround the salient features of the theory. In particular, I explored the relationship among learning outcomes, internal and external conditions, and instructional strategies.
According to my research, I have learned that Robert M. Gagne’s instruction theory primarily focuses on instruction and how established information about learning can be utilized in designing instruction (Driscoll). His first theory was anchored on the cognitive information processing theory and his standards of effective teachers in a classroom, which he based on his observations. Through his collaboration with Leslie Briggs, they were able to develop a prescriptive model which determines the content of instruction and how to create them in order to address all domains of learning.
The Gagne-Briggs theory is comprised of three components, namely the five major categories of learning outcomes, the internal and external learning conditions of the learner, and the nine events of instruction developed by Gagne. The major categories of learning by Gagne, which were also presented in Module 2, are intellectual skill, motor skill, verbal information, cognitive strategy, and attitude (Kowch, 2002). Verbal information entails knowing “that” or “what”, while intellectual skill is about applying knowledge. Gagne defined cognitive strategies as the process of employing effective ways of thinking and learning, attitudes are those feelings and beliefs that control choices of personal action, and motor skills refer to executing precise, smooth and accurately timed movements (Driscoll). These definitions are provided under the assumption that different conditions for learning are required in order to achieve them.
There are two conditions that need to exist in order for learning to ensue: internal and external conditions. Internal conditions are previous knowledge that a learner needs to have before certain intellectual skills can be learned. External conditions, on the other hand, are technically not conditions. However, Gagne and Briggs consider the nine events of instructions as external conditions. In summary, these two conditions are prerequisites to the organization of instructional events that would lead to achieving the objectives of the instruction.
In addition to understanding the importance of internal and external conditions, my research has also introduced me to the concept of hierarchy of learning. To achieve intellectual skills, the main type of learning that this theory applies to, Gagne proposed the organization of the learning tasks into a hierarchy of learning. The hierarchy will help recognize the prerequisites that a learner has to complete to facilitate learning in every level and reach the terminal goal . This was arranged according to complexity, which starts with stimulus recognition, response generation, procedure following, use of terminology, discriminations, concept formation, rule application, and problem solving. This hierarchy also provides the basis for the sequencing of instructions (Culatta, 2013).
After the skills of a learner, or his/her internal conditions, are identified, the facilitator will now have the opportunities to control the nine external events of learning established by Gagne. These events are those external conditions which are meant to support the internal conditions. In brief, the nine instructional events are gain attention, inform leader of objective, stimulate prerequisite recall, present stimulus material, provide learning guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess performance, and lastly enhance retention faster.
Learning this information helped me better understand the process of developing a lesson plan. It is important to keep in mind that there are five domains of learning outcomes to which the objectives will be categorized. Once the objectives have been established, it is time to look at the internal conditions of the learner regarding the particular learning outcome. A hierarchy of learning can then be established in order to identify the learnings prerequisite to reaching the objective. Finally, the instruction of events are chosen in order to enhance the internal process of learning. Essentially, the events will provide the structure for the lesson plan.
Out of the ideas I’ve acquired from the research, I was especially intrigued by the hierarchy of learning. This concept was not discussed in the Module, so it was something new to me. I would like to incorporate this in my teaching practice as I’ve realized that more than achieving the instructional objectives, the hierarchy of learning will better improve my students’ mastery of instruction. The increasing complexity of the tasks that the students have to surpass in order to reach the terminal goal will provide a higher opportunity to retain the lesson as well as a deeper understanding of what must be learned.
Issues regarding the research
The instructional theory of Conditions of Learning provides numerous benefits for teachers. For one, it presents a logical guideline for teachers to follow in order to reach the objectives of instruction. The concept of internal conditions as a basis for the instructional events proves to be a logical solution for the systematic presentation of the lesson. However, I came to realize that the learners are humans and are therefore not guaranteed to react the way the instructional events prescribe.
What then is the alternative course of action that a teacher should take should a situation like such arise? Would it be okay to skip certain steps or change the order if it proves to be appropriate for the situation or the lesson? The same goes for the hierarchy of learning. Is it okay to skip certain levels if the learners are not able to accomplish them, or if such levels do not apply to a certain lesson? Doesn’t the seeming rigidity of the structure present as a deterrent for both teachers and learners to be creative and flexible?
Culatta, R. (2013). Instructional Design: Conditions of Learning. InnovativeLearning.com.
Retrieved February 21, 2014, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/conditions-learning.html
Driscoll, M.P. Psychological Foundations of Instructional Designs. Section Two Learning:
Foundations and Trends. Retrieved from http://ocw.metu.edu.tr/file.php/118/driscoll-psyc-founds-inReiserCh4.pdf
Kowch, E. G. (2002). Instructional Design – Gagne and Briggs – A Summary. [Lecture notes].
Retrieved from http://people.ucalgary.ca/~ekowch/673/resources/gagnea.html