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The Line of Understanding

The Line of Understanding: integrating Bloom's Taxonomy with Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

In past blog posts, we've explored how to set up the steps of an effective and engaging lesson, using Gagné's Nine Events of Instruction.

And we've looked at how to use Bloom's Taxonomy to make anything easier to learn.

                                             I've put these two frameworks together

to create an integrated schematic I call

THE LINE OF UNDERSTANDING

Graphic showing the Line of Understanding: where Bloom's Taxonomy meets Gagne's 9 Events of Instruction The Line of Understanding © Learn and Get Smarter, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Line of Understanding © Learn and Get Smarter, Inc. All Rights Reserved


The line of understanding represents the points at which

 the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (on the vertical axis)

 meet the steps of Gagné's 9 Events of Instruction (on the horizontal axis).

Bloom's (Revised) Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy describes what the learner IS ABLE TO DO at each level of a hierarchy of thinking skills.  

These skills build on each other from the most foundational ("REMEMBER") to the most complex ("CREATE").

In order to ensure your learners' success, it's important to confirm they are capable of performing the skill you are teaching, at each level of the hierarchy, before you ask them to perform at a higher level.

Skipping levels of the taxonomy leaves gaps that learners can easily fall through, if they don't have a solid foundation (built on the skill levels below) to support them.

Here is an all-too-common scenario: the instructor demonstrates their OWN expert way of doing something (mastered over a lifetime!) and then turns to the class and says, "Now YOU do it!". That is a method that is doomed to fail.

 Learners cannot create something new (the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy) based on having seen it presented once!

They may REMEMBER the information,  and they may UNDERSTAND it, but that does not mean they are ready to APPLY it, let alone analyze it, evaluate it, or use it to CREATE something new.

Person falling through a hole

Gagné's Nine Events of Instruction

What's the solution?

For any skill you are teaching, you can use Gagné's Nine Events of Instruction to clarify how to structure your teaching to ensure learners can perform the skill at every level of Bloom's (Revised) Taxonomy.

At first, it might not seem clear how the two frameworks can be synthesized, because Bloom's (Revised) Taxonomy has six levels, which don't correlate perfectly with the nine events of instruction.

The secret to fitting the frameworks together smoothly, like cogs in a flywheel, is to realize that the first level of Bloom's Taxonomy, REMEMBER, is so important and foundational to everything above it, that it requires not one but THREE of Gagne's Events of Instruction, to ensure it is happening!  

Similarly, learning to APPLY the instruction in practical ways is so important that it requires TWO of Gagné's 9 events of instruction (Guided Practice, and Independent Performance) to make it work.

If you realize that EVERYTHING that takes place before you present the new instruction in your lesson is designed to help your learners REMEMBER what they need to know in order to learn the new material, and that being able to APPLY what was just learned requires extra support,  the two frameworks snap into place neatly like the missing pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle... closing any gaps that your learners might otherwise fall through.

Jigsaw puzzle pieces snapping together


In order for learners to be able to do the things

 indicated along the left (vertical) axis of the diagram, 

the instructor must do the things

 indicated in the corresponding color along the horizontal axis of the diagram.

The Line of Understanding mapping what learners can do to how teachers can teach them to do it © Learn and Get Smarter, Inc. All Rights Reserved

© Learn and Get Smarter, Inc. All Rights Reserved


So if you want your learners to REMEMBER, you must:

  • Gain their attention
  • Tell them what they are about to learn
  • Help them bring related things they already know, to the forefront of their minds

If you want them to UNDERSTAND, you must:

  • Present the instruction
  • (in the optimal way based on the DOMAIN OF LEARNING for that specific lesson)

If you want them to be able to APPLY the instruction, you must:

  • Provide guided practice
  • Facilitate independent performance

If you want them to be able to ANALYZE what they are learning, you must:

  • Provide ways for them to get FEEDBACK

If you want learners to be able to EVALUATE what they have learned, you must:

  • Provide meaningful ASSESSMENTS
  •  that help learners determine whether they have achieved the learning goal 

If you want them to be able to CREATE something new, you must:

  • Complete all the earlier stages of Bloom's Taxonomy and all the previous events of instruction
  • Help them remember everything they've learned in this lesson, and
  • Prepare them to take what they've learned and transfer it to new and different contexts 


Here is a chart that summarizes and synthesizes these ideas.

You can use it to ANALYZE and EVALUATE the steps you must take to present your instruction

 in ways that ensure your learners stay with you every step of the way,

and don't fall through any gaps in the learning hierarchy.


A synthesis and integration of Bloom's Taxonomy and Gagne's 9 Events of Instruction

© Learn and Get Smarter, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Does the Line of Understanding offer you a helpful framework for thinking about how to present the instruction in your online course, to ensure your course participants are learning, every step of the way?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, reflections, experiences, and reactions!

Drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com to share your thoughts.


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Three steps to take WHILE presenting instruction

blackboard with drawn checked boxes. Text next to boxes reads: Present the instruction/ Provide guided practice/ promote independent performance

You've warmed up your audience.

You've gotten their attention.

You've told them what they're about to learn, and you've reminded them of their prior related knowledge.  

It's time to start actually teaching....this is the exciting part!

"Actually teaching" is a three-step process, if you want your course participants to actually REMEMBER and be able to use what you teach.

Robert M. Gagné's "nine events of instruction" include not just presenting the instruction, but also providing learners with guided practice in APPLYING what they've just learned, with your direct guidance and help.  And once they can do what you're teaching them to do with your help, the next step is to structure in some way for them to do it on their own.

This three step process takes your learners past the point of passively absorbing YOUR expertise, and helps them begin to internalize and develop their own competencies and skill sets, based on what you have shared with them. 

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Make your online course highly effective and engaging!

We'll show you how.

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Any time you plan to present instruction, it's critical to consider how you will include guided practice, and how you will help your learners implement what you're teaching on their own.

This is what makes the difference between effective teaching and simply exposing people to information.

Over the next three weeks, I'll write blog posts that go into each of these steps in depth:

PRESENT

INSTRUCTION

Present the instruction the way that works best for the specific TYPE of learning the lesson contains. 

What are the different possible types of learning, and how do you know which one your lesson contains? I'll explain  in next week's blog post, so stay tuned!

GUIDED

PRACTICE

Provide ways for your learners to implement the instruction themselves, with your guidance, support, and help.

 This is one of the MOST important things you can do to ensure your instruction really gets learned.

INDEPENDENT

PERFORMANCE

It's not enough to just tell learners to do something...we must build structures into our courses that help them do the right thing, on their own, in the right way...

.. and to demonstrate that they know it, through their own actions.


As you think about content that you want to include in your online course, it's helpful to start brainstorming about how you can help your course participants play an active role in learning the materials... at first with your direct guidance and help, and then on their own. 

If you'd like to learn more about how to do this, check out my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online.

If you'd like to talk about it, send me an email to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com, or join us on Facebook!

Three things to do BEFORE you present instruction

Human Brain Lobes on Blackboard.

Educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné observed skilled teachers in action, and noticed that they followed nine specific steps in order to create effective learning.

He codified these steps and called them "The Nine Events of Instruction".

Let's take a closer look at the three things Gagné  noticed highly effective teachers do, BEFORE they present the new material they want their students to learn.

The first step is: Gain the learner's attention.  (See how I gained YOUR attention by using a different font color and larger text?)

How can you gain your learner's attention before presenting new instruction in your online course? 

Here's a humorous example: an attention-grabbing cat video I  designed as an ice-breaker for a (hypothetical) online piano course for reluctant first-time musicians:

I hope you got a kick out of that video,

and that it got  (and held) your attention!

Here's why it works:

  • It's funny
  • It's short
  • It's unexpected
  • It tunes in to the learner's anxiety and concerns (about being able to learn to play the piano)
  • It's supportive and encouraging
  • It leads directly into the (imaginary) piano lesson to follow
  • Everybody loves cat videos


Notice that this opening video does not actually start teaching how to play the piano. 


Gaining the learner's attention is an introductory step to take BEFORE you present the actual instruction.

What's next? 

The next step is to let your learners know what they will be learning in the instruction that is going to follow.

(You're still not presenting the instruction. 

 You're just TELLING THEM what they are going to learn).

In our imaginary music course, the instructor might say something like "In this lesson, you will learn how to play a simple chord on the piano."

And there's still one MORE thing you need to do before you actually start teaching the material. (Keep reading to find out what it is....)

Grab your learners' attention

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The third step to take before actually presenting the instruction, is to help learners recall anything they already know, that is relevant to what you are about to teach them.  

For example, in our imaginary piano course, the instructor might say, "Remember that yesterday we learned the names of the notes on the piano. In today's lesson, you will learn how to put those notes together to make a pleasing sound called a 'chord'."

Course Design Formula™ Book



If you'd like to learn more about the three steps to take BEFORE you present any new instruction, check out pages 161 to 183 of my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online.

I have a mission  for you (should you choose to accept it.... )

Think about a specific lesson that you'd like to teach online, and ask yourself these questions:

Before you begin actually teaching the lesson:

  1. 1
    How will you gain YOUR learners' attention?
  2. 2
    How will you inform them about what you're going to teach?
  3. 3
    How will you help them remember relevant things they already know, that will help them learn what you're about to teach?

I'd love to hear your ideas.

Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and let's talk about it!

The 9 Events of Instruction

9 different colored sticky notes on a blackboard

What has to happen in order to actually teach someone something?

If simply exposing people to information is not the same as actually teaching them, how DO we actually teach, especially online?

Educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné studied good teachers in action, and discovered what they were doing that made their teaching effective.

His research revealed that highly effective teachers were following nine specific steps, which he called "The Nine Events of Instruction".

It's hard to remember nine things at a time (the limits of our short term memory make five to seven things the maximum length for easy mental processing).  

So let's break the nine events of instruction down into three groups, each of which only has three things in it that you need to remember at any one time.  (See what I did there? 🤔 💭 💡⁉️)


              

        


In order to teach effectively

in any context

(but especially online):

  • There are 3 things you have to do BEFORE you present the instruction
  • There are 3 things you have to do WHILE you present the instruction
  • There are 3 things you have to do AFTER you present the instruction
One small piece being cut out of a larger pumpkin pie

So that means:

Presenting the instruction  is only ONE of NINE steps needed to teach effectively...

..and if all you are doing is PRESENTING information, you are only doing  A FRACTION of what it takes to effectively TEACH that information.

Here's your main takeaway for today (unfortunately, it's not an actual piece of  pumpkin pie):

In order to teach effectively online (or anywhere, but especially online), there are NINE THINGS you have to do, in the right order.

Presenting the information is only ONE of those nine things.

Next we will talk about the three things you have to do BEFORE you present the instruction, so stay tuned!

hilarious cat dressed in a tie and shirt collar, holding a laptop and decaf as he presents information