Effective teaching – comparing two frameworks

Saw an interesting journal article recently on the the elements of instructional sessions that make them more effective.  I was struck that Dr. Mayer (a prolific educational psychology researcher) listed Nine Evidence-based Principles for the Science of Instruction.  Those in the instructional design fields will also be familiar with Robert Gagne's "Nine Events of Instruction"

I thought, "Hey!  Nine is the common number between these two models…let's compare…"

Gagne's Nine Events: Mayer's Nine Evidence-based Principles (again, reference is here):
  1. Gain attention
  2. Inform learners of objectives
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning
  4. Present the content
  5. Provide “learning guidance”
  6. Elicit performance (practice)
  7. Provide feedback
  8. Assess performance
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job
Principles for reducing extraneous processing
    1. eliminate extraneous material (coherence)
    2. highlight essential material (signalling)
    3. place printed words near corresponding graphics (contiguity)
Principles for managing essential processing
    4. provide pre-training in names and characteristics of key concepts (pre-training)
    5. break lessons into learner-controlled segments (segmenting)
    6. present words in spoken form (modality)
Principles for fostering generative processing
    7. present words and pictures rather than words alone (multimedia)
    8. present words in conversational or polite style (peronalization)
    9. use a human voice rather than a machine voice (voice)

And now, attempting to fit one model into the other:

Gagne'
Mayer
Gain attention present words in conversational or polite style (peronalization)
use a human voice rather than a machine voice (voice)
Inform learners of objectives highlight essential material (signalling)
Stimulate recall of prior learning provide pre-training in names and characteristics of key concepts (pre-training) 
Present the content

break lessons into learner-controlled segments (segmenting)

present words in spoken form (modality)

Provide “learning guidance” present words and pictures rather than words alone (multimedia)
Elicit performance (practice)  ???
Provide feedback  ???
Assess performance  ???
Enhance retention and transfer to the job  ???
??? eliminate extraneous material (coherence)
??? place printed words near corresponding graphics (contiguity)

Well, it's nice for those of us raised on Gagne' to see additional support for his model, and I'm not terribly worried by the lack of overlap – in fact, I believe these are just similar enough to be reassuring, yet they complement each other well where they don't agree.

Mayer seems very focused on optimizing a unit of instruction that does not attempt to incorporate any strategy for ensuring retention.  The areas that don't match to Gagne' (and several that do) are focused on sequencing and message design.  As I look back into Mayer's previous research, this is clearly his focus – the design of multimedia instruction.

Gagne is very focused on practical application, feedback, assessment and job transfer.  He gives rather shorter shrift to the intricacies of content presentation and message design – apart from labeling them "learning guidance".

We can do much in education – ESPECIALLY in medical education – to focus on both of these models.  Many of our instructional sessions (lectures, small group discussions, rounds, etc.) could be greatly improved by focusing on Mayer's principles.  However, I believe that to be most effective, we, as instructors, must take up the challenge of integrating feedback, meaningful assessment and job transfer into the DESIGN of our instruction. 

If "dressed to the nines" refers to "to perfection" or "to the highest degree", then I say we use these two models to "teach to the nines"!

(I'll show myself out…)