Planning for teaching

Robert Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction supports the sequencing of learning and teaching to enhance student engagement and learning.

Source: Lesson planning, Singapore Management University Centre for Teaching Excellence.

This process can be applied within online learning content to provide guidance about how to sequence online learning content and activities to support students to learn and make meaningful connections.

Robert Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

The following steps have been adapted from Gagné, Briggs, and Wager (1992) and Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (2020).

Step 1

Gain the attention of the students

This is an opportunity to hook the learner and draw them into the learning content. Consider trying to bring in elements that stimulate interest by being novel, unexpected, or surprising.

This can be achieved in several ways but might include:

  • Interesting or unexpected case studies/industry examples
  • Stories from authentic contexts or in the public domain (news stories, etc.)
  • Interesting or thought-provoking questions which challenge students to think about their learning from a different perspective
  • Ice-breaker activities that build students as a cohort

This can also form a golden thread (recurring thematic metaphor) in which you weave through the entire topic to connect concepts or tie things together for the learner.

Step 2

Inform students of the outcomes

Help students to understand what is expected of them for this topic. Help them make connections to how these expectations about what they will learn and do relate to the entire subject and to their emerging professional identity.

This supports students to organise their thoughts and prioritise their attention.


  • Prompting learners to personalise the outcomes by creating a question (related to the learning outcomes) they want to be able to answer by the end of the topic.
Step 3

Stimulate recall of prior learning

It is easier to learn something new when students can attach it to something they already know. Prior knowledge activation via a learning activity can improve comprehension of new information.

Some methods for stimulating recall:

  • Ask questions about previous experiences/learning.
  • Give a shared space for students to articulate their current understanding and engage with others.
  • Get students to create a mind map of what they already know about the topic/concept.
Step 4

Present the content

Now is the perfect time to present new content to your students. It is important to consider the sequencing of the content and how to organise and group content to make meaningful connections for the students.

Teacher explanations and insights can be a powerful way to help students learn.

Some useful strategies for presenting content:

  • Consider presenting the same information in multiple modes (text, video, demonstration, podcast, etc.).
  • Use a variety of media to help engage students.
  • Include opportunities for the student to actively apply their new learning and to keep students engaged.
  • Consider how your students will access the information and ensure that all students can engage with the learning content.
Step 5

Provide learning guidance

Your role as the teacher gives you the opportunity to give students insights into how to learn and ways of engaging with the concepts being presented in effective ways.

This is a powerful strategy and helps students learn how to learn.

Some useful strategies for providing learning guidance:

  • Provide scaffolding and learning support advice. This can be slowly removed as a student learns and demonstrates mastery of different content and skills.
  • Model different learning strategies (concept mapping, mnemonics, etc.) and consider using them as the basis for future learning activities.
  • Use case studies, analogies, real-world examples to help connect the content and skills to application and/or practice.
  • Consider using non-examples to show what not to do or the consequences or ramifications.
Step 6

Elicit performance

Getting students to apply their learning reinforces new knowledge and skills. It also allows students to confirm their understanding and abilities which is crucial for developing independent learners.

Some useful strategies for activating learner processing:

  • Offer facilitation and guidance to learning activities. Ask deep questions, ask students to find real-world examples, get students to work with their peers to discuss new concepts.
  • Provide formative assessment opportunities by giving students feedback on learning activities which helps them to confirm their progress.
  • Design opportunities for students to get feedback on their formative learning activities and assessment. This can be dot points that indicate common responses, formative quizzes, debriefing about activity during synchronous learning opportunities, or writing back to responses on a discussion board.
Step 7

Provide feedback

Timely feedback about student performance can facilitate learning and encourage students to self-assess gaps in their learning prior to weighted assessment.

Confirming a student did what they needed to do can be a great way to reinforce performance and motivate students to continue. This type of feedback does not feature any information about improvement.

  • Evaluative feedback gives students information about their performance.
  • Remedial feedback helps students to find the correct response but does not give the correct response. It can a great way to prompt students to evaluate their own performance, whilst giving broad guidance.
  • Descriptive feedback gives information or consultation which will support enhanced performance.
  • Peer evaluation allows students to get feedback from their peers and to offer their own feedback to their fellow students.
Step 8

Assess performance

Within learning content, this can be as simple as providing a connection between the new learning and upcoming weighted assessment.

More broadly this references the assessment schedule for the subject and how it works to guide, reinforce and assess progression towards mastery of learning outcomes.

Ensuring alignment between your learning outcomes, learning content, and learning activities, and assessment ensures students are prepared for the requirements of assessments.

A variety of assessment methods and modes will give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency. Authentic assessment, including industry-relevant text types, is recommended to enhance skill and knowledge acquisition.

Step 9

Enhance retention and transfer

Provide connections to real-world application and to previous and upcoming learning to enhance retention.

Associate the new learning with other concepts and consider providing review opportunities that cover previous learning to reinforce the connected nature of the learning.

Consider getting students to create a summary of their new learning or convert key information from one format to another (text into a concept map, etc.) to enhance retention.

Provide reflection and closure to any guiding questions or themes within your topic.


Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of instructional design (4th ed.). Forth Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Laurillard, Diana. (2012). Teaching as a design science. In Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Routledge.

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Gagné’s nine events of instruction. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from

Schuell, T. J. (1986). Cognitive conceptions of learning. Review of Educational Research, 56, 411-436.

Singapore Management University Centre for Teaching Excellence, Lesson planning. Retrieved from

The University of Queensland, Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, Designing learning activities Retrieved from

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We explore several ed-tech supported approaches to planning your upcoming teaching session and planning individual / clusters of lessons for both online and hybrid delivery.