Designing instructional strategies

Learning objectives

At the end of this learning unit, you will be able to:

  • Describe the ARCS model.
  • Identify the elements of ARCS in a training module.
  • Describe Gagne’s nine instructional events.
  • Design training modules that incorporate the ARCS model and Gagne’s nine instructional events.

Once I have framed the learning objectives, how do I ensure that the content in my learning portal is interesting for the learners. Is there some way, I can gain their attention and tell about how this training will be useful for them in performing their job roles?

You are right. It is crucial to provide some motivation to the learners and establish some relevance for them to take this training. Also, once they have completed the training, they should be given an opportunity to test their learning so that they can gain confidence for using the newly learned skills in their job roles.


ARCS model

In 1983, John Keller inferred that motivation was most critical to the effectiveness of learning. Hence, the ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction) model of motivation was developed.

It is a well-known fact that motivation is an important component of instruction because despite individual differences, there is one thing common in motivated learners; they are enthusiastic and curious. This has a positive effect on their performance.

In instructional design, the ARCS model provides a framework for incorporating motivational techniques throughout a training program. According to this model, motivation design is as critical as instructional strategy and content design. 

Click on the elements below to explore more!










The first component of ARCS is gaining and maintaining learner’s attention. You can gain attention of your learner by methods such as,

Perceptual arousal -

You can increase perceptual arousal by using new, surprising, and unexpected events.

Inquiry arousa -

To increase inquiry arousal, you can stimulate information-seeking behavior, such as posing questions or having the learner solve a problem.

Variability -

You can also introduce some varying elements of instruction to gain and maintain attention.

The next component of the model is Relevance. You should make the instruction relevant to the learners’ needs and goals and match it to the learning styles of the learners.

As an author of a training documentation, you can do this by mapping the instruction to the learners’ knowledge and experience, using a familiar language with learners, and including examples and concepts from learners’ previous experiences.

You can also present goal orienting statements and objectives while explaining the purpose and necessity of instruction to establish the relevance of the training for the learners.


Authors should help learners develop confidence by presenting a degree of challenge that enables them to succeed under relevant conditions.

In addition, try to generate positive expectations. When you present performance requirements and evaluation criteria in addition to timely and corrective feedback, it helps the learners feel confident about meeting the training goals.


To build a sense of satisfaction, you need to provide the learners with opportunities to use the newly learned knowledge or skill in a real-life setting. Ensure that you maintain consistent standards and results of tasks while doing so.

In addition, provide regular feedback and reinforcements by keeping the outcomes of learner’s efforts consistent with expectations.

Gagne-Brigg’s model of instruction

Just like the ARCS model that we just discussed, there is another well-known model of instruction that combines and integrates a range of knowledge about learning and instruction into an instructional theory.


Oh! What is it? I would like to know in detail about it as well.

Sure. This is the Gagne-Brigg’s model of instruction.


One of the most powerful features of this model of instruction is the extent of its applicability, from motor skills to attitudes and intellectual skills. The three components of this model are:

  1. Selecting of prerequisites for each objective.
  2. Sequencing of content so that the prerequisite is taught before the skills for which they are prerequisites.
  3. Using the nine events of instruction for teaching each objective.

We will talk in detail about the third component in this learning unit.

Events of Instruction


Gaining Attention



Informing Learners about Objectives


Retrieval to working memory

Recalling prerequisites


Selective perception

Presenting stimulus


Semantic encoding

Providing learning guidance



Eliciting performance



Providing feedback



Assessing performance



Enhancing retention and transfer



Gaining attention

The first task in any instruction is to gain the learner’s attention. You can achieve this in many ways, such as using an analogy, photograph, magazine article, a demonstration, or any other media. A great idea can be to display an outline of your session plan in a visual form, such as an illustration, a diagram, a map, or a chart.

Informing learners about objectives

It is important to communicate the objectives to enable the learners to know exactly what they will be able to do at the end of the training. You need to ensure that the objectives are clearly stated, have no fuzzy verbs, describe what learners will be doing (performance) and what they may be using (condition). Create expectancy by using your objectives and the description of the structure of the training.

Stimulating recall of prior learning

Essential capabilities must be available for recall before new learning can happen. Try to relate each new training module to situations or knowledge that your learners are already familiar with, such as the previous training modules and analogies.

Often, just a statement recalling past learning is sufficient. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to review the previous knowledge.

Presenting the stimulus material

The range of objectives defines the range of the stimulus materials. You can present the stimulus material in the form of progressive disclosure of lists, pictorial depiction of concept and facts, examples of concepts, or a demonstration of software-related skills. The actual form of the stimulus material depends on the content and the media used.

Providing learning guidance

The purpose of providing learning guidance is to help learners acquire a specific skill. You can  provide this guidance in the form of graphical representation of concepts/principles, mnemonics, flow charts/process diagrams, checklists, or situations/cases.

Eliciting performance

You can determine if a learner is acquiring the intended skills, by asking the learner perform a specific action. For doing this, involve learners in questioning, discussion, and demonstration to confirm that they have learned from your instruction. It is important that the key content (objective) is used in questions/practices and not trivial information.

Providing feedback

Providing feedback is a critical instructional event. In case of an error, effective feedback is informative and contains the possible reasons for the error. Sometimes, feedback can also state rationale and generalizations.

Assessing performance

The purpose of this event is to check if the learner can perform what was intended from the lesson/training. You need to ensure that the assessment should be challenging and map to the objective.

Enhancing retention and transfer

You cannot assume the transfer of learning from one situation to another. You need to build it into the instruction. For this, one method is to group procedures into types that follow the same pattern and explicitly state the pattern. Repeating tasks in different and real-life contexts is another way to build generalization.


In this learning unit, you learned to:

  • Describe the ARCS model.
  • Identify the elements of ARCS in a given training module.
  • Describe Gagne’s nine instructional events.
  • Design training modules that incorporate the ARCS model and Gagne’s nine instructional events.

Thanks for explaining these instructional models so nicely Martin. They seem to be so relevant and practical for creating our training documentation. What’s coming up next?

Stay tuned for some more interesting and useful stuff in the next module.