Gagne's Outcomes of Learning


Bloom's Taxonomy is not the only way to classify educational outcomes. Gagne (1985) has categorized the outcomes of learning into the five major groups summarized in Table 3.4. Gagne states that it is important to know what kind of outcomes comprise the objectives of a unit of instruction, because different strategies are essential to promote mastery of various outcomes. For example, in order to help a learner master verbal information, the teacher needs to (1) draw attention to its important features, (2) encourage chunking of information. (3) provide a meaningful context for encoding, and (4) supply cues to stimulate recall and transfer. On the other hand, to help a learner master a rule (or principle), the teacher should (1) recall the component concepts of subordinate rules, (2) demonstrate a verbal statement of the rule, (3) have the student demonstrate an application of the rule, and (4) use a variety of contexts to promote transfer.

It should be noted that Gagne's outcomes are not entirely independent: concepts, for example, may build on factual information and involve attitudinal components. One of the main benefits of a task analysis (discussed in chapter 15) is that it is possible to determine the separate outcomes in an overall instructional unit and to apply the appropriate strategies to each of the subtasks comprising a unit's instructional objectives.

There is not room in this book to describe in detail each of Gagne's outcomes of learning. A careful reading of Table 3.4 will help readers review or understand the important distinctions among them. Review Quiz 5 will help you determine whether you understand these distinctions. Additional information can be found in the Workbook and in Gagne, Briggs, & Wager (1988).

There are many other ways to classify learning. For example, Krathwohl et al. (1964) have devised a taxonomy of affective objectives, and Simpson (1966) a taxonomy of psychomotor objectives. To avoid jargon-shock, we'll now stop listing taxonomies and outcomes. The key point is that learning in all areas can often be conceived as hierarchical, and there are specific strategies that are useful for accomplishing and assessing the many possible educational outcomes.




 Table 3.4. Gagne's Outcomes of Learning

 Learning Outcome
Critical Learning Conditions

 Verbal Information



 The organized bodies of knowledge that we acquire.

Reciting a poem from memory.

Stating the definition of a term in science class.

1. Draw attention to important features.

2. Encourage chunking of information.

3. Provide a meaningful context for encoding.

4. Provide cues to stimulate recall and transfer.



 (Includes discrimination, concrete concepts, defined concepts, rules, and higher-order rules - all described below.)

 Knowing how to do something.


 1. Draw attention to distinctive features.

2. Stay within the limits of the capacity of working memory.

3. Stimulate the recall of previously learned component skills.

4. Use verbal cues to help order and combine the component skills.

5. Schedule occasions for distributed practice and review.

6. Use a variety of contexts to promote transfer.



The ability to distinguish one feature of an object from another.


Distinguish between printed b’s and d’s.

Distinguish between the m sound and the n sound.



Concrete concept


The ability to classify objects and events according to their distinguishing features.


When asked to point to the cow, do so correctly.

When asked to choose the large box, do so.



Defined Concept




The ability to classify objects, events, or ideas according to definitions.


Distinguish between examples of punishment and extinction.





The ability to do something using concepts or symbols.


Apply the rule of changing y to i before adding ed to form the past tense of most verbs that end in y.



Higher-order rule


The ability to combine several simple rules into a complex rule to do something.


Write an entire paragraph, using and combining a large number of composition rules.



Cognitive strategy


A manner in which learners guide their attending, learning, remembering, and thinking.


Adopting a strategy of asking oneself questions at the end of each paragraph in a textbook.


1. Describe or demonstrate the strategy

2. Provide opportunities to practice the strategy.

3. Provide feedback for use of the strategy.




An acquired internal state that influences the choice of personal action toward some class of things, persons, or events.


Preferring Shakespeare to Milton as a topic for an English composition.


1. Associate the attitude with success.

2. Associate the attitude with admired models.

3. Arrange for personal action associated with the attitude.

4. Give feedback for successful performance.


Motor Skill


The ability to do precise, smooth, and accurately timed performances with muscle movements.


Playing a song correctly on the alto saxophone.


1. Use verbal guidance for executive routine.

2. Arrange repeated practice.

3. Give immediate feedback.

4. Encourage mental as well as physical practice.



Review Quiz 5 - Gagne's Outcomes of Learning


Match each objective below with the outcome of learning that it describes.

a. Verbal Information

b. Intellectual skills

c. Cognitive strategies

d. Attitudes

e. Motor skills


1 _____ The student should be able to list and define Gagne's outcomes of learning.

2 _____ The student will correctly remove the old memory chip and insert the new chip into the computer.

3 _____ The student should be able to transfer information between long-term and working memory as effectively as possible.

4 _____ The student should begin to engage in appropriate verbal mediation while solving problems.

5 _____ The student should be able to specify which of Gagne's outcomes of learning is exemplified by a given instructional objective.

6 _____ The student will perceive himself as a successful learner.

7 _____ The students will voluntarily attend a ballet performance when given a chance to do so.

8 _____ The student will sing the first stanza of the national anthem on key to the satisfaction of the music teacher.

9 _____ Given a general educational goal, the student should be able to classify it as one of Gagne's outcomes of learning and describe methods for most effectively helping students attain that goal.

10 _____ The student will monitor the degree to which she understands information being communicated in the textbook by asking herself questions at the end of each paragraph.




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