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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