The Learning Process
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Cumulative Learning Theory

The Contributions of Robert M. Gagné

Robert Gagné's Impact on Instructional Design Theory and Practice of the Future
Abstract:         Robert Gagne has been a central figure in the infusion of instructional psychology into the field of instructional technology, and in the creation of the domain of instructional design.

        Gagne's design principles provide not only a theoretical orientation to an instructional design project, but also have prompted a number of design conventions and techniques.

        This paper examines the extent to which Gagne's theories continue to influence the field as design research expands and as design practice changes in response to new demands and pressures.

        Discussion includes the emerging tension between learner-oriented and content-oriented instruction trends in learner-centered instruction:
  • The role of learner characteristics, learner involvement, and individualized instruction in Gagne's work;

  • The emerging role of context in instructional design theory trends in context-centered instruction;

  • The generic nature of Gagne's design theory and the de-emphasis of rooting design in a single context;

  • The continuing dominance of Gagne's learning conditions, outcomes-based design, pre-design analysis;

  • Events of Instruction which provide a framework for creating those external conditions that promote learning;

  • The stability of Gagne's orientation to practice.

(Contains 27 references.) (AEF)
Source -

Learning & Human Development

        As an instructional psychologist, Gagné was primarily interested in determining what knowledge and skills are required for a person to effectively perform a given job.

        Gagne suggested that there are five categories of learning. Such categories can be formed because each leads to a different class of human performance and each requires a different set of instructional conditions for effective learning (Gagné. 1974). The categories are:
  1. Intellectual skills.  These skills are the capabilities that make the human individual competent.  They enable him to respond to conceptualizations of his environment.

  2. Cognitive strategies.  These skills are the ones that govern the individual capability to learn, think and remember.

  3. Verbal information.   Stored in our memory to recall when needed, such as names of months, days of week, letters, numeral e.t.a.

  4. Motor skills. The capability to learn: to ride a bike, drive a car, write, draw a straight line.

  5. Attitudes.   All of us possess attitudes of many sorts towards different things, persons and situations.  These attitudes may affect our position toward those things.

Source - Robert M Gagné

        The following chapters in Robert M. Gagné's book present his explanation of the nature of human intellectual development, cumulative learning theory.

        His Cumulative Learning Theory provides an alternative to the concept of instructional sequencing which was widely used.

Recommended Reading:

The Learning Process and Skill Development

Skill Development Environment

Mental Training


Learning Topics:


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

The System of Learning
Topics of Learning
PDF  Attentional Focus
Training Feedback
Processing Criticism
Articles by Robert Gagne

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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