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Robert Gagne

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Robert Gagne (1916-2002) was an American educational psychologist who developed a system called “Conditions of Learning.” Sometimes called the “Gagne assumption,” his theory states that there are different types of learning and that different instructional techniques are required.

Robert Gagne

Robert Gagne's Theory list

After receiving his Ph.D. from Brown University, Gagne taught Army Air Corps pilots during World War II. During the 1950s, he was the research director of the Perceptual and Motor Skills Laboratory for the US Air Force. In 1958, he took a position at Princeton, and wrote “The Conditions of Learning” in 1962.

Gagne’s theory states that there are five categories of learning:

  1. Intellectual skills
  2. cognitive strategies
  3. verbal information
  4. motor skills
  5. attitudes

Each of these categories requires different skills. Additionally, there are eight ways to learn, according to Gagne:

  1. Signal learning
  2. Stimulus-response learning
  3. Chaining
  4. Verbal association
  5. Discrimination learning
  6. Concept learning
  7. Rule learning
  8. Problem solving

Instruction, for Gagne, started at the lowest levels, and skills need to be mastered before moving up the hierarchy. He developed nine steps for planning instruction and nine steps of instruction. Instruction can then be evaluated by asking if objectives have been met and assessing the effectiveness of an educational program through student performance.

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