The importance of stimulus (Post from EDCI 531)

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Case Studies | No Comments

Stimulus is the most important because the content of the stimulus can be specific to the learning outcome. For example, if the stimulus is verbal information, printed prose such as a chapter in a textbook or an audio tape will achieve the learning objective. If the stimulus is an intellectual skill, the instructor can display the object and/or symbols that require a concept or rule; or, he or she can present the problem learners need to solve.

Stimulus is to outcome as cause is to effect. For example, the stimulus to get my 16 year old driving is that the outcome is she can get to where she wants. In order to drive though, the first stimulus is the desire to get where she wants to go but she will also need to stimulate her brain to recall previously learned skills. This is extremely important for even being able to initiate driving (and her safety)!

If an IDer presents the stimulus as an initial phase of learning it will entice the learner. A clear indication of stimulus features such things as eye-catching print, graphics, a joke/cartoon or using a change in tone of voice to emphasize major themes.


The instructional techniques (based on Gagne Theory) for presenting the stimulus to different learning outcomes are as follows:

  • Intellectual Skills: Instructor delineates features or the objects and symbols that require defining as a concept or a rule
  • Cognitive Strategies: Instructor describes the problem and shows what the strategy accomplishes
  • Verbal Information: Instructor displays text or audio statements, showing or highlighting the distinctive features
  • Motor Skills: instructor displays the situation at the initiation of the skilled performance, and then demonstrates the procedure
  • Attitude: Instructor presents a human model that describes the general nature of the choice that learners will be required to make.

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