9 julio, 2024

Eclectic Theory: Phases, Conditions, Results of Learning

The eclectic theory or eclectic learning theory, was postulated by the American psychologist Robert Gagné. It is a theoretical current that frames a model of information processing in a rational, systematic and organized way.

The theory is based on the reception of content through the nervous system, going through a series of hypothetical statements that are later reorganized and stored. According to Gagné, all this theoretical structure leads to the real process of learning.

This approach derives from the integration of various cognitive concepts, such as Edward Tolman’s current, Jean Piaget’s evolutionary position and Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning.


phases of learning

The theory is divided into 8 phases that specify the individual’s act of learning. These phases are the following:

motivation phase

Motivation acts as a driver of learning. For this, there must be some element, whether internal or external, that fosters in the individual the necessary impulse to learn. In this phase, expectations or personal interests are used to generate this motivating effect.

The motivation phase also makes use of reinforcement contingencies. That is to say, in order to maintain the motivating behavior, external reinforcements are needed to inform and guide the learner about the product of their responses in relation to the conceived expectations.

The apprentice can also be motivated by means of rewards as he or she achieves the established objectives.

understanding phase

The comprehension or apprehension phase is what is known as selective perceptual attention, which focuses on stimulating certain aspects of learning.

The information received goes through a flow of attention and perception, where only some of these aspects will be selected to be transformed into the sensory register. Upon completion, this information will be processed and stored in short-term memory.

acquisition phase

When information, be it images or words, enters the storage space of short-term memory, it is encoded and then stored in long-term memory.

In this phase, strategies already acquired are reinforced so that the encoding of information is easily digested in long-term memory.

retention phase

It is the retention of elements in memory. During this phase, it is determined what kind of information will go from short-term memory to long-term memory.

However, the information may be stored for an indefinite period or gradually fade away.

recovery phase

The recovery phase occurs when external or internal stimuli promote the recovery of information stored in long-term memory. In this way, the encoding process occurs again as a search method.

Generalization and transfer phase

During this phase the student will be involved in different situations that allow him to put into practice the knowledge and skills acquired.

Such situations need to be posed in a completely different context by which the individual was previously subjected.

For the generalization and transfer process to be successful, it is vital that the student work to effectively retrieve information from long-term memory.

performance phase

The performance phase focuses on verifying the degree of knowledge acquired by the student. It is carried out based on the behavior and responses that the individual favors in particular situations.

feedback phase

The feedback reinforces the information and allows the student to compare between the objective achieved by the student and the original expectations.

The process is complete when the student compares their performance to see if their answers match the expectations model. If they do not coincide, the feedback process is carried out, in which the student learns from his mistakes and modifies the information in memory.


Gagné names the conditions of learning as events that facilitate it, and they can be divided into two:

internal conditions

Internal conditions originate in the mind of the student, specifically within the central nervous system. They are usually stimulated by observations of external conditions.

external conditions

External conditions are the stimuli that address the individual to produce a response. That is, it is the reality and factors that surround it.


Learning is a process that depends on various factors. Therefore, several results are generated as a product of learning. These results can be divided into five categories:

motor skills

Motor skills are essential to support activities that involve some aptitude of the human muscular system.

This capacity is of vital importance in some areas of learning, since it requires a lot of practice and training to be able to obtain regularity in the answers.

verbal information

Learning this ability is achieved when the information is well organized within the system and is highly significant. It refers to the processing and retention of specific data, such as names or memories.

intellectual skills

They are the principles, concepts or rules combined with other cognitive abilities that are in constant interaction with reality.

In this capacity, intellectual dexterity is combined with previously acquired verbal information. It is very useful to discriminate and associate certain stimuli or symbols with reality.


Gagné demonstrates his eclectic position by defining attitudes as an internal state that influences the choice of personal actions. In turn, this internal state can be examined through the behavior and responses of the individual.

Although behavior and conduct are some capacities that define and shape the individual, there are also the concepts of positive and negative attitudes that can be developed through imitation and reinforcement.

cognitive strategy

It refers to the cognitive skills that we use to work, capture and analyze memories.

Cognitive skills do not have their own intrinsic content but indicate the internal organization process that information follows. That is, they indicate the response style that is used to emphasize learning in general.


Campos, J. Palomino, J. (2006). Introduction to the Psychology of Learning. Peru, San Marcos editorial.
Capella, J. (1983). Education. Approaches for the formulation of a theory. Lima-Peru, Zapata Santillana.
Gagne, RM (1970). The conditions of learning. USA Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Oxford, R.L. (1990). Language Learning Strategies. USA Heinle and Heinle.
Poggioli, Lisette. (1985). Cognitive strategies: a theoretical perspective. Nova Southeastern University.

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