Table of Contents Previous Chapter

Appendix 2 Instructional Design Theory: Sequencing & Chunking of Educational Material

Gagné's steps of instruction

What is the optimal sequencing of courseware and how is it related to various types of learning? Gagné suggests nine universal steps of instruction (cf.Gagné 85 or Aronson 1983) which should be found in any instructional context:

  1. Gain attention e.g. present a good problem, a new situation, use a multimedia advertizement.
  2. Describe the goal: e.g. describe the goal of a lesson (task,...), state what students will be able to accomplish and how they will be able to use the knowledge, give a demonstration if appropriate.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior knowledge e.g. remind the student of prior knowledge relevant to the current lesson (facts, rules, procedures or skills). Show how knowledge is connected, provide the student with a framework that helps learning and remembering. Tests can be included.
  4. Present the material to be learned e.g. text, graphics, simulations, figures, pictures, sound, etc. e.g. follow a consistent presentation style, chunking of information (avoid memory overload, recall information)
  5. Provide guidance for learning e.g. presentation of content is different from instructions on how to learn. Should be simpler and easier that content. Use of different channel.
  6. Elicit performance "practice", let the learner do something with the newly acquired behavior, practice skills or apply knowledge
  7. Provide informative feedback show correctness of the trainee's response, analyze learner's behavior (or let him do it), maybe present a good (step-by-step) solution of the problem
  8. Assess performance test, if the lesson has been learned. also give sometimes general progress information
  9. Enhance retention and transfer inform the learner about similar problem situations, provide additional practice. Put the learner in a transfer situation. Maybe let the learner review the lesson.

Reigeluth's "Elaboration Theory of Instruction

Elaboration theory (Reigeluth 83:342) proposes seven major strategy components:

  1. an elaborative sequence
  2. learning prerequisite sequences
  3. summarizers
  4. synthesizers
  5. analogies
  6. cognitive strategy activators
  7. a learner control format
The first component is the critical as far as elaboration theory is concerned. The elaborative sequence is defined as a simple to complex sequence in which the information epitomizes (rather than summarize or abstract) the ideas that follows. Epitomizing should be done on the basis of a single type of content (concepts, procedures, principles) and involves the presentation of a few fundamental or representative ideas that can form the basis for the lesson/course.

Merill's Component Display Theory (CDT)

Merrill's CDT is probably still the most detailed theory on how to teach a single idea or concept. It provides at a micro-level what Gagné-Briggs provide at a macro-level. Not surprisingly it is more concerned with cognitive issues than with instructional ones: CDT attempts to indicate what set of methods is most likely to optimize learning under some specified conditions. CDT classifies learning objectives on 2 dimensions:

  1. Content
  2. Performance
(to be continued ..... )

Table of Contents Next Chapter