Communication, Gagne's Nine Events, Teaching, Students, Friends, Group

Benjamin Samuel Bloom believes that the objective of teaching should support maximum learning. Teaching should fulfil cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains that ultimately helps process information through the right proportion of physical skills, attitude, and emotions. According to Bloom, the brain is lateral than being linear in terms of behaviour. Thus, Bloom taxonomy progresses from cognitive thinking to meta-cognitive thinking leading to creativity (McNulty, N, 2019, Dec 31). The same reflects in Gagne’s approach to teaching through the nine events.

Gagne’s phases of Learning & teaching events

Gagne believes that teachers are responsible for making students learn by first making them responsible, comfortable and then allowing them to explore. Gagne’s nine events begin withdrawing their attention to focus on what is offered and to participate. For this, the teacher has to follow generalizability, the reverse model of enhancing interest and transferring concept through a creative or innovative approach of teaching that will draw attention. It is essential that students are aware of the objective or purpose of learning. It is here that we appeal to their rationality and logic, leading to cognitive thinking. This could begin with cueing retrieval, allowing them to relate to something they have known and acceptable. This should be further extended to the individual and collective expectancy, expectancy they have for and from themselves and what others have from them. Once they know what to expect is when the teacher has to provide them with stimuli to recall, which has already been initiated through cueing retrieval process and further reinforced to remember and store knowledge. The students are now ready to acquire knowledge (Schunk, D. H., 2012).

Readiness to acquire knowledge is what Bloom states are the beginning of the cognitive thinking stage. This cognitive thinking should then be allowed to grow and made relevant to be applied in the present context and environment. To do so, the teacher should now narrow the focus of attention by providing specific information helping them develop specific perception. This perception is then fed with necessary guidance or Semantic encoding, helping them to build on to new concepts, knowledge, ideas, and experiences (Schunk, D. H., 2012).

If students are able to demonstrate the application of their learning is when learning is complete. To reflect the same, students should be challenged to retrieve their learning and interpretation through practice, highlighting problem-solving strategies and applying the learning in a real-life context, thus showcasing elicit performance. (Berkeley Lab., (n.d.)). Every response to a given stimulus is a consequence that helps better the future stimuli, resulting in better response which enhances reinforcement and retention of the learning, which is the effective way of transferring learning (Schunk, D. H., 2012). This is possible with proper feedback, followed by further assessment of performance and transfer of knowledge (Berkeley Lab., (n.d.)). This prepares students to be able to attend to their challenges of life.

Behaviourism and Cognitive Approach

Behaviourism psychology is a journey between stimuli and response. The stimuli and the corresponding response after regular occurrence could turn into a habit, thereby reflecting through one’s behaviour. Behaviour is developed through emotional conditioning, classic (mental) conditioning, contiguous (action) conditioning, and operant (environment) conditioning. In each case, the response is quick, and this is the very difference with cognitive thinking, where the awareness of connecting between stimuli and response is realised. Under cognitive thinking, an individual reflects on the knowledge and respond accordingly. The realisation allows an individual to respond with a purpose and not through the felt feeling (Schunk, D. H., 2012).

Gagne’s nine events do reflect a cognitive approach that leads finally towards cognitive thinking and response. While following the nine events of teaching, when the elicit performance occurs, the response, the right feedback, is a classic conditioning state for a teacher to provide feedback that will drive the student to apply the knowledge, be assessed, which allows the transfer of knowledge for future applications. This is further emphasised through assessment. The right feedback and assessment offer necessary reasoning, which gets converted into a new idea, application, or concept, thereby being able to transfer learning.

One of the key elements of a successful individual is the ability to communicate with others. Communication is the key to any healthy relationship and to accomplishing a task.

Communication is about an exchange of views, ideas, and felt feelings to make the most of the relation or achieving the purpose. Communication is a two-way process where speaking and listening. both being active are crucial. If I listen right, will I respond rightly? If I speak with the right tone, emphasis and pronunciation, clarity, and emotions is when the message will be heard. The other aspect of communication is the awareness that the communicator has with regards to whom s/he is communicating and why. Having thinking-oriented communication allows one to build clarity and be objective. This is even more crucial in a professional setup. The classroom is also a professional set-up where the ultimate objective is understanding the subject and its application. Using Gagne’s nine events of teaching, through a cognitive approach, could help teachers achieve their purpose, thus allowing the information transferred to easily move from the temporary to the permanent memory zone. The same is demonstrated through a classroom experience where the topic itself is ‘Communication’.

Reflecting Gagne’s nine events through Cognitive approach

The example reflects Piaget’s understanding of Cognitive development. This development allows students to progress by using their mental faculty in organising the understanding and its process, which has an influence on biological maturation and is also nurtured through the environmental experience in the class (McLeod, Saul., 2018). Thus, the teacher needs to prepare well their teaching goals and objectives to represent the events in an effective manner with a proper understanding of student’s capacity and according to the content (Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning., 2020). When I was to teach Communication,

Draw AttentionI simply made noises, spoke a different language that helped me build curiosity and drew the attention of the class.
Inform Objectives

(Expectancy)

I then began asking students what was coming into their mind? What do they want to know? Do they want to know what I was doing? Do they want to know what I spoke – the language, the content? Answers to these questions helped me introduce Communication and its purpose of being effective for others to understand us and respond accordingly.
Stimulate Recall

(Retrieval)

Students were encouraged to share a joke, recite a poem, say a dialogue. This helped identify the alphabets, words, sentence formation, language, outcome, people/toys (to whom we speak).
Present the Content

(Selective Perception)

This is then used to define communication as a two-way process, sharing of thoughts, ideas, feelings. Effective communication is when there is a response as expected.
Provide Guidance

(Semantic Encoding)

The difference in a poem, joke, and dialogue delivery is explained in relation to its purpose, impact, and response. This helps students understand and reflect upon their personal experiences.
Elicit Performance

(Retrieval and Responding)

The next stage is to make them read from the storybooks with various emphasis and emotions – first with the teacher and then independently. Then the students are made to speak in pair, and more emphasis is given on starting the conversation.
Give Feedback

(Reinforcement)

Individual reading and speaking are analysed and responded to by the teacher and peers. The exercise also is further reflected upon as to how the feedback has been communicated.
Assess Performance

(Cueing Retrieval)

The subject is given individually to every student to prepare and share in front of the class. It is assessed and evaluated based on the rubrics, in which the students are informed in advance.
Enhance Retention and Transfer

(Generalizability)

Based on the assessment and the collective reflection, the students are again asked to write on the subject and also create a power-point presentation (with images) showcasing the same communication in different forms.

The entire classroom experience reflects the objective and the desired outcome of the subject. The above experience also helps us realise that the learning is extended beyond, encouraging students to apply the understanding through project-based learning.

The teacher’s role in helping students learn is primary, and the same can be achieved by following the nine events suggested by Gagne, which do relate to Bloom’s revised taxonomy where the journey of learning begins from remembering to creating, reflecting the transfer of learning. The first stage is crucial where a teacher has to work towards drawing the attention of the students. But the most significant event is sharing the objective of learning and its relevance which helps sustain interest and encourages collaboration between student and teacher. This reflects the behaviourism shift in students towards learning which is essential to implementing the following seven events of Gagne’s teaching approach. Every stage, drawing attention, sharing the objective, sustaining the interest, encouraging collaboration, and helping students be independent, are the levels of communication that every teacher needs to realise and prepare accordingly.

Disadvantages of Gagne’s learning theory

While we have understood how Gagne’s learning theory is effective, we also need to know the probable disadvantages to it. One of the significant cons is that the process is time-consuming, may seem difficult to implement for the higher grade. The teacher needs to be in control, yet there could be reasons and possibilities that the shift from teacher to facilitator could be difficult for some. Pre-work is very crucial in order to not miss the objective. Also, most of the stages seem to not allow collaborative learning between the teacher and the student, and also among peers. It is here that the teacher needs to be cautious, and pre-work is necessary to overcome the above-referred disadvantages. The passive phase needs to be worked upon through the Feedback and Assessment stages by involving peers to take up the role and help students with the ability to be alert while simultaneously taking cognition of the subject.

Using Gagne’s learning theory into Online Teaching

As teachers, when we realise the above stages, we are to work accordingly on our lesson plans. Most of the time, our lesson plans focus upon the learning outcomes but do not encourage us to include the approach that we will be applying, the action plan. It is very important that we not only record the tools we will use but equally important is the approach. While teaching Communication, to draw attention, we could decide to begin with a story, but equally important is to prepare the way the story will be delivered. A rehearsal of the same for beginners is recommended. The more we do the mock sessions, will bring ease and reflect through the body language we will demonstrate. Making a note of what is to be worn is also important; whether they compliment or could block our performance is to be made a note of. The same is applicable for online teaching. Creating an environment even before we get into the subject is crucial. This can be possible by not concentrating initially on those who have not logged in or have not witched on their videos. But more important to concentrate on those who are with us. The most crucial events out of the nine of Gagne’s events are – Drawing attention, elicit performance, Giving Feedback, Enhancing Retention and Transfer Information.

It is very important that feedbacks should be encouraging and progressive; encouraging other peers to share what they found interesting could gradually help us draw attention and reflect collective participation. The application should be very precise and limited. For this, the teacher needs to break the expected outcome into further small segments or targets, which could be easily achieved within the given situation. They should equally be time-consuming and preferably non-technical. By non-technical, we expect the application-based exercise to be related to creativity, demonstration, quiz and so on. These non-technical exercises could be well related to a television programme, making students look at the online classes as watching television which is the most attractive element of their lives. Thus, making the class feel like a television episode could build interest in the students. This approach should not be a regular affair but could be identified for select days, assuring more engagement and participation. The next and most effective transfer of knowledge could be demonstrated by asking the students to prepare formats of online teaching and deliberate on its impact. This will itself reflects whether the communication has been understood and also help us get ready tools to teach the particular or any subject through a student’s perspective.

Conclusion

Gagne’s learning theory broadly has three stages – Preparation for Learning, Acquisition and Performance, and Transfer of Learning. It is about the shift from teacher-centric to student-centric approach, only possible when the stages are understood and worked upon during the preparatory stage of the lesson plan. While Gagne’s learning theory has both behaviourism and cognitive aspect, the focus should be drawn more towards the cognitive approach helping students process and apply their learning. As teachers, we need to be able to provide/facilitate our students to understand the subject, maybe sharing our perspective, but gradually helping them look at it through their lenses through the real-time situations that we can help them relate to and work on understanding and resolving problems. However, this theory seems to be more passive with the student perspective but could cater to a diverse class and help each student evolve at least to the basic expectations and encourage meta-cognition through Assessments and Feedbacks initially through teachers and gradually sharing positive responses among peers.

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