Bloom, Gardner and Gauge

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Bloom, Gardner, and Gagne:

How learning occurs in the classroom

Geneva Baker

Northern Arizona University


Educational theorists have long debated the definition and significance of intelligence. Gagne, Bloom, and Gardner are the foremost authorities on intelligence and its application in the classroom. Gagne recommends that conditions of learning must be in place prior to instruction. Bloom advises instructors have a goal in mind when planning a lesson, and address the hierarchy of cognitive domain. Gardner propounds that there are multiple intelligences, which should be taken into consideration when developing curricula.

In education, there has been a plethora of information regarding best practices in the classroom. There has been much made of late regarding differentiated instruction. This is not a relatively new concept; rather it has been floating around academia for at least fifty years beginning with Robert Gagne. Gagne introduced instructional design that should center on different delivery methods. Benjamin Bloom at around the same time discovered that educational activities were divided into three domains. (Clark, 1999) Later Howard Gardner established the theory that instead of all intelligence being the same, each person was blessed with strengths in different areas. Each of these three educational theorists had a huge impact on educational practices. Though each theorist had a distinct theory, all seem to address the idea that students are not made from the same cookie cutter mold, and teaching should be adjusted accordingly.

Robert Gagne

Robert Gagne stated, “Learning is something that takes place inside a person’s head-in the brain.” (Robert Gagne, 2005) Robert Gagne proposed there were many different ways to learn. There are five major categories of learning: intellectual, cognitive, motor, verbal, and attitudes. In order for each type of learning to occur, certain conditions must be in place. His theory was named “Conditions of Learning” after this particular idea. Additionally, depending on the objective, specific tasks must be followed in order to meet the objective.

When referring to the five major categories of learning, Gagne spends quite a bit of time discussion the intellectual category. He specified that tasks that require intellectual aptitude could be structured in a “hierarchy according to complexity.” (Kearsley, 2005, p. 1) The implication of using the hierarchy is to recognize fundamentals that must be completed in order to produce successful learning.

Another interesting idea Gagne propounds is Task Analysis. To do this, the instructor must be aware of the specific outcome he or she requires. After that is accomplished, if the instructor follows a set task analysis, the student’s chance of being successful is greatly enhanced. Gagne stated there are nine steps in a task analysis, instructional design, which must be present. (Kearsley, 2005, p.1) There are, in order,

“Gaining attention (reception), informing learners of the objective (expectancy), stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval), presenting the stimulus (selective perception), providing learning guidance (semantic encoding), eliciting performance (responding), providing feedback (reinforcement), assessing performance (retrieval), enhancing retention and transfer (generalization).” (Kearsely, 2005, p.1)

This can be viewed as a framework for any instructors lesson plan, and interestingly enough looks like the traditional Madeline Hunter model of instructional design.

Benjamin Bloom

Benjamin Bloom stated, “The purpose of education is to change the thoughts feelings and actions of students.” (Benjamin Bloom, 2005, p. 1) Bloom revolutionized education with...
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