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Meaningful Reception Learning Theory

Ausubel's Meaningful Reception Theory is concerned with how students learn large
amounts of meaningful material from verbal/textual presentations in a school setting.
Ausubel proposed that learning is based upon the kinds of superordinate,
representational, and combinatorial processes that occur during the reception of
information. A primary process in learning is subsumption in which new material is
related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a non-verbatim basis.
Meaningful learning results when new information is acquired by linking the new
information in the learner's own cognitive structure.

A major instructional mechanism proposed by Ausubel is the use of advance organizers.


Ausubel emphasizes that advance organizers are different from overviews and summaries
which simply emphasize key ideas and are presented at the same level of abstraction and
generality as the rest to the material. Organizers help to link new learning material with
existing related ideas.

Ausubel indicates that his theory applies only to reception (expository) learning in school
settings. He distinguishes reception learning from rote and discovery learning. Rote
learning does not involve subsumption and discovery learning requires the learner to
discover information through problem solving.

Ausubel believed that children have a natural tendency to organize information into a
meaningful whole. Children should first learn a general concept and then move toward
specifics.

Principles of Ausubel's Meaningful Reception Learning Theory within a classroom


setting include:

1. The most general ideas of a subject should be presented first and then
progressively differentiated in terms of detail and specificity.
2. Instructional materials should attempt to integrate new material with previously
presented information through comparisons and cross-referencing of new and old
ideas.
3. Instructors should incorporate advance organizers when teaching a new concept.
4. Instructors should use a number of examples and focus on both similarities and
differences.
5. Classroom application of Ausubel's theory should discourage rote learning of
materials that can be learned more meaningfully.
6. The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already
knows.
Subsumption Theory (D. Ausubel)
Overview:

Ausubel's theory is concerned with how individuals learn large amounts of meaningful
material from verbal/textual presentations in a school setting (in contrast to theories
developed in the context of laboratory experiments). According to Ausubel, learning is
based upon the kinds of superordinate, representational, and combinatorial processes that
occur during the reception of information. A primary process in learning is subsumption
in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a
substantive, non-verbatim basis. Cognitive structures represent the residue of all learning
experiences; forgetting occurs because certain details get integrated and lose their
individual identity.

A major instructional mechanism proposed by Ausubel is the use of advance organizers:

"These organizers are introduced in advance of learning itself, and are also presented at a
higher level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness; and since the substantive
content of a given organizer or series of organizers is selected on the basis of its
suitability for explaining, integrating, and interrelating the material they precede, this
strategy simultaneously satisfies the substantive as well as the programming criteria for
enhancing the organization strength of cognitive structure." (1963 , p. 81).

Ausubel emphasizes that advance organizers are different from overviews and summaries
which simply emphasize key ideas and are presented at the same level of abstraction and
generality as the rest of the material. Organizers act as a subsuming bridge between new
learning material and existing related ideas.

Ausubel's theory has commonalities with Gestalt theories and those that involve schema
(e.g., Bartlett) as a central principle. There are also similarities with Bruner's "spiral
learning" model , although Ausubel emphasizes that subsumption involves reorganization
of existing cognitive structures not the development of new structures as constructivist
theories suggest. Ausubel was apparently influenced by the work of Piaget on cognitive
development.

Scope/Application:

Ausubel clearly indicates that his theory applies only to reception (expository) learning in
school settings. He distinguishes reception learning from rote and discovery learning; the
former because it doesn't involve subsumption (i.e., meaningful materials) and the latter
because the learner must discover information through problem solving. A large number
of studies have been conducted on the effects of advance organizers in learning (see
Ausubel, 1968, 1978).

Example:
Ausubel (1963, p. 80) cites Boyd's textbook of pathology as an example of progressive
differentiation because the book presents information according to general processes
(e.g., inflammation, degeneration) rather than by describing organ systems in isolation.
He also cites the Physical Science Study Committee curriculum which organizes material
according to the major ideas of physics instead of piece-meal discussion of principle or
phenomenon (p. 78).

Principles:

1. The most general ideas of a subject should be presented first and then progressively
differentiated in terms of detail and specificity.

2. Instructional materials should attempt to integrate new material with previously


presented information through comparisons and cross-referencing of new and old ideas.
Ausubel - Presentation Transcript

1. David Ausubel A Perspective By Sean Hagon N515


2. Bio-So Who Was He?
o David P. Ausubel Born in 1918 and resided in Brooklyn, N.Y.
o Attended University of Penn as a pre-med student and majoring in psychology
o Graduated from medical school at Middlesex University
o Received his Ph D in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University
3. Professional Life
o Served in the military with the US Public Health Service
o He taught as a professor of psychology at various colleges including: University of
Illinois, University of Toronto, and in the European universities at Berne, the Salesian University at
Rome, and the Officer's Training College at Munich.
o Retired in 1973 from academic life to devote himself full time to his psychiatric practice
o He retired from professional life in 1994 while still devoting his time to writing books.
o He died in July of 2008 at the age of 89
4. Achievements
o He wrote a series of books on developmental and educational psychology
o Theory and Problems of Adolescent Development and In Defense of Advanced
Organizers
o Education Psychology and specialized topics such as drug addiction, psychopathology,
and ego development
o Over 150 articles in psychological and psychiatric journals.
5. Ausubel’s Major Contributions That Apply To Multimedia
o Conceived a major instructional mechanism he called “Advanced Organizers ”
o Simply put-This method provided a means for students to organize the ideas to be
presented by stating in advance what the lesson will focus on and how it will be structured.
o Lessons begin by linking new knowledge to what was already known through
examples, analogies and metaphors.
o Use periodic review questions and then a final summary. All would apply to an online
learning e-course.
6.
o As a result, Ausubel's theory, like Gagne's, suggests how teachers or
instructional designers can best arrange the conditions that facilitate learning for students.
o The main idea in Ausubel's theory is that knowledge is sequentially and
hierarchically organized; that new information is meaningful to the extent that it can be related
(attached, anchored) to what is already known.
7. Principles Related To Multimedia
o In applying these principles, Ausubel developed his theory of Reception Learning
o This places the teachers and students in specific roles and follows a certain sequential
path
o Let’s take a closer look at how these roles would work…
8. For The Student
o Relate new ideas that have already been established or learned
o Seek to understand the similarities and differences between new material and related
concepts
o Translate what is learned into an organized reference that reflects upon past
experience or prior knowledge
o Reorganize this existing knowledge to formulate new ideas
9. For The Teacher
o Start the lessons with “advanced organizers” that include general principles or by using
questions that will aid students in learning to systematically integrate the material.
o Introduce the students to key concepts and briefly describe the learning objective.
o Present new information in small, logically organized steps and in a sequence that is
easy to follow.
o Regularly receive responses to engage the learner and confirm that each step is
thoroughly understood before moving on to the next one.
o Finish the lesson with a review or summation of the main points.
o Follow up the lesson with questions, activities or assignments that require the learner
to encode the material on their own and apply it.
10. In Summation
o The general ideas of a subject should be presented first and then progressively
differentiated in terms of detail and specifics.
o It’s important for instructional materials to integrate new material with previously
presented information by comparing and cross-referencing new and old ideas.
11. In Other Words…
o “ Tell them what you are going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told
them.”
o - David Ausubel
12. References
o The Psychology of Learning and the Art of Teaching By John A. Kaufhold. Published
by iUniverse, 2002
o Strategies For Effective Teaching 2nd Edition By Allan C. Ornstein. Published by
Brown & Benchmark, 1995
Subsumption Theory
From: http://tip.psychology.org/ausubel.html

David Ausubel

Overview :

Ausubel's theory is concerned with how individuals learn large amounts of meaningful
material from verbal/textual presentations in a school setting (in contrast to theories
developed in the context of laboratory experiments). According to Ausubel , learning is
based upon the kinds of superordinate , representational, and combinatorial processes that
occur during the reception of information. A primary process in learning is subsumption
in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a
substantive, non-verbatim basis. Cognitive structures represent the residue of all learning
experiences; forgetting occurs because certain details get integrated and lose their
individual identity.

A major instructional mechanism proposed by Ausubel is the use of advance organizers:

"These organizers are introduced in advance of learning itself, and are also presented at a
higher level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness; and since the substantive
content of a given organizer or series of organizers is selected on the basis of its
suitability for explaining, integrating, and interrelating the material they precede, this
strategy simultaneously satisfies the substantive as well as the programming criteria for
enhancing the organization strength of cognitive structure." ( 1963 , p. 81).

Ausubel emphasizes that advance organizers are different from overviews and summaries
which simply emphasize key ideas and are presented at the same level of abstraction and
generality as the rest of the material. Organizers act as a subsuming bridge between new
learning material and existing related ideas.

Ausubel's theory has commonalities with Gestalt theories and those that involve schema
(e.g., Bartlett ) as a central principle. There are also similarities with Bruner's "spiral
learning" model , although Ausubel emphasizes that subsumption involves reorganization
of existing cognitive structures not the development of new structures as constructivist
theories suggest. Ausubel was apparently influenced by the work of Piaget on cognitive
development.
Scope/Application:

Ausubel clearly indicates that his theory applies only to reception (expository) learning in
school settings. He distinguishes reception learning from rote and discovery learning; the
former because it doesn't involve subsumption (i.e., meaningful materials) and the latter
because the learner must discover information through problem solving. A large number
of studies have been conducted on the effects of advance organizers in learning (see
Ausubel , 1968, 1978).

Example :

Ausubel (1963, p. 80) cites Boyd's textbook of pathology as an example of progressive


differentiation because the book presents information according to general processes
(e.g., inflammation, degeneration) rather than by describing organ systems in isolation.
He also cites the Physical Science Study Committee curriculum which organizes material
according to the major ideas of physics instead of piece-meal discussion of principle or
phenomenon (p. 78).

Principles :

1. The most general ideas of a subject should be presented first and then progressively
differentiated in terms of detail and specificity.

2. Instructional materials should attempt to integrate new material with previously


presented information through comparisons and cross-referencing of new and old ideas.

References:

Ausubel , D. (1963). The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York : Grune
& Stratton.

Ausubel , D. (1978). In defense of advance organizers: A reply to the critics. Review of


Educational Research, 48, 251-257.

Ausubel , D., Novak, J., & Hanesian , H. (1978). Educational Psychology: A Cognitive
View (2nd Ed.). New York : Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

From http:// www.davidausubel.org

David P. Ausubel was born in 1918 and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He attended the
University of Pennsylvania, taking the pre-medical course and majoring in Psychology.
After graduating from the medical school at Middlesex University, he completed a
rotating internship at Gouveneur Hospital (NY City Department of Hospitals) located in
the lower east side of Manhattan, including the Little Italy and Chinatown of 1944.
His military service began then with the US Public Health Service. He was assigned to
UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) in Stuttgart,
Germany working with displaced persons. Three psychiatric residences followed: with
the US Public Health Service in Kentucky, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, and Bronx
Psychiatric Center. With assistance from the GI Bill, he earned a PH D in Developmental
Psychology from Columbia University. A series of psychological professorships ensued
at schools of education: the University of Illinois, University of Toronto, and in the
European universities at Berne, the Salesian University at Rome, and the Officer's
Training College at Munich. He received a Fulbright Research Grant in 1957-58 to do a
comparative study of the vocational motivation of Maoris and Europeans.

In 1973 he retired from academic life to devote full time to his psychiatric practice. His
principal interests in psychiatry have been general psychopathology, ego development,
drug addiction, and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Ausubel published extensively : t extbooks in
developmental and educational psychology and books on specialized topics such as drug
addiction, psychopathology, and ego development, and over 150 articles in psychological
and psychiatric journals. In 1976 he received the Thorndike Award from the American
Psychological Association for "Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education".

He retired from professional life in 1994 to devote himself full time, at the age of 75, to
writing. Four books resulted.
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
DAVID AUSUBEL

The Person and His Time

Ausubel was influenced by Piaget’s cognitive development theory. He was very active in
his field in the 1950’s to 1970’s. He developed his instructional models based on
cognitive structures.

His Theory
Ausubel’s theory is involved with how individuals learn large amounts of "meaningful"
material from verbal/textual lessons in school. This is in contrast to theories developed in
the laboratory.

In Ausubel’s subsumption theory, he contended that "the most important single factor
influencing learning is what the learner already knows." (Ausubel, 1968) A primary
process in learning is subsumption in which new material is related to relevant ideas in
the existing cognitive structures. A major instructional mode proposed by Ausubel is the
use of advance organizers. He emphasizes that advance organizers are different from
overviews and summaries which simply emphasize key ideas and details in an arbitrary
manner. Organizers act as a "subsuming bridge" (Ausubel, 1963) between new learning
material and existing related ideas.

Scope/Application
Ausubel specifies that his theory applies only to reception (expository) learning in school
settings. He states that there are differences between reception learning and rote and
discovery learning. Rote learning does not involve subsumption (i.e., meaningful
materials) and in discovery learning the learner must discover information through
problem solving.

Principles
• The most general ideas of a subject should be presented first and them
progressively differentiated in terms of detail and specifics.
• Instructional materials should attempt to integrate new material with previously
presented information through comparisons and cross-referencing of new and old
ideas.

How Theory Can Help Teachers:


• We need to remember that inputs to learning are important.
• Learning materials should be well organized.
• New ideas and concepts must be potentially meaningful to learner.
• Anchoring new concepts into the learner’s already existing cognitive structure
will make the new concepts recallable.

Learning theory
David Ausubel and others (Ausubel 1963; 1968; Ausubel, Novak and Hanesian 1978)
formulated a learning theory that has shown great promise for practical use in the
educational forum. The primary idea of Ausubel's theory is that learning of new
knowledge is dependent on what is already known. In other words, construction of
knowledge begins with our observation and recognition of events and objects through
concepts we already possess. We learn by constructing a network of concepts and adding
to them. A concept map is a instructional device that uses this aspect of the theory to
allow instruction of material to learners of different prior knowledge.

Another major concept of Ausebel's theory focuses on meaningful learning. To learn


meaningfully, individuals must relate new knowledge to relevant concepts they already
know. New knowledge must interact with the learner's knowledge structure. Meaningful
learning can be contrasted with rote learning which also can incorporate new information
into the knowledge structure but without interaction. Rote memory is fine for
remembering sequences of objects (i.e. lists of structures) but does not aid the learner in
understanding the relationships between the objects. Meaningful learning, therefore, is
personal, idiosyncratic and involves a recognition of the links between concepts.

Both rote and meaningful learning may be achieved no matter what instructional strategy
is used (Novak and Gowin 1984). Either reception learning (passive listener with teacher-
directed agenda) or discovery learning (active learning where the learner chooses
information to be learned) may result in meaningful learning. Therefore, its not
necessarily how information is presented but how the new information is integrated into
the old knowledge structure that is crucial in order for meaningful learning to occur.

A third key idea of Ausubel's theory is that concepts are of different depth. That is,
concepts can range from the very general to the very specific. Furthermore, general
concepts include (subsume) less general concepts which include most specific concepts.
As such, concepts can be progressively differentiated by their level of specificity. In
order to learn meaningfully, concludes Ausubel, the learner must discern the level of new
concepts and then place them within progressively inclusive levels of specificity in their
knowledge structure.
"Ausubel's "meaningful reception learning"
Ref: http://www.education.indiana.edu/~p540/webcourse/cip.html

Introduction to Ausubel's theory

You probably noticed that Ausubel's theory has at least one thing in common
with Gagne's: that it concerns itself primarily with intentional, or "school"
learning. In that way, both theories differ from behaviorism and cognitive
information processing, which attempt to explain aspects of all human learning or
memory. Thus, Ausubel's theory, like Gagne's, suggests how teachers or
instructional designers can best arrange the conditions that facilitate learning for
students.

The overarching idea in Ausubel's theory is that knowledge is hierarchically


organized; that new information is meaningful to the extent that it can be
related (attached, anchored) to what is already known.

Ausubel stresses meaningful learning, as opposed to rote learning or


memorization; and reception, or received knowledge, rather than discovery
learning. (Ausubel did not contend that discovery learning doesn't work; but
rather that it was not efficient.)

The processes of meaningful learning

Ausubel proposed four processes by which meaningful learning can occur:

Derivative subsumption. This describes the situation in which the new


information I learn is an instance or example of a concept that I have already
learned. So, let's suppose I have acquired a basic concept such as "tree". I know
that a tree has a trunk, branches, green leaves, and may have some kind of fruit,
and that, when fully grown is likely to be at least 12 feet tall. Now I learn about a
kind of tree that I have never seen before, let's say a persimmon tree, that
conforms to my previous understanding of tree. My new knowledge of
persimmon trees is attached to my concept of tree, without substantially altering
that concept in any way. So, an Ausubelian would say that
I had learned about persimmon trees through the process of derivative
subsumption.

Correlative subsumption. Now, let's suppose I encounter a new kind of tree that
has red leaves, rather than green. In order to accommodate this new information, I
have to alter or extend my concept of tree to include the possibility of red leaves.
I have learned
about this new kind of tree through the process of correlative subsumption. In a
sense, you might say that this is more "valuable" learning than that of derivative
subsumption, since it enriches the higher-level concept.

Superordinate learning. Imagine that I was well acquainted with maples, oaks,
apple trees, etc., but I did not know, until I was taught, that these were all
examples of deciduous trees. In this case, I already knew a lot of examples of the
concept, but I did not know the concept itself until it was taught to me. This is
superordinate learning.

Combinatorial learning. The first three learning processes all involve new
information that "attaches" to a hierarchy at a level that is either below or above
previously acquired knowledge. Combinatorial learning is different; it describes a
process by which the new idea is derived from another idea that is neither higher
nor lower in the hierarchy, but at the same level (in a different, but related,
"branch"). You could think of this as learning by analogy. For example, to teach
someone about pollination in plants, you might relate it to previously acquired
knowledge of how fish eggs are fertilized.

Instructional implications of Ausubel's theory

Ausubel's theory is not particularly in vogue today, perhaps because he seems to


advocate a fairly passive role for the learner, who receives mainly verbal
instruction that has been arranged so as to require a minimal amount of
"struggle". Nevertheless, there are some aspects of his theory that I find
interesting.

The advance organizer. This seems to be the most enduring Ausubelian idea,
even though it can be tricky to implement. There is a fair amount of intuitive
appeal to the idea of epitomizing an idea before trying to teach the details. We've
all had the experience of needing to understand the "big picture" before we can
make sense of the details. You could think of the advance organizer as Ausubel's
notion of how
to provide this.

The comparative organizer. How do we remember concepts and keep them


from fading or being lost into higher-level ideas? Ausubel proposed the
comparative organizer as a way of enhancing the discriminability of ideas; i.e.,
permitting one to discriminate a concept from other closely related ones. A
comparative organizer allows you to easily see the similarities and differences in
a set of related ideas.

Progressive differentiation. According to Ausubel, the purpose of progressive


differentiation is to increase the stability and clarity of anchoring ideas. The basic
idea here is that, if you're teaching three related topics A, B, and C, rather than
teaching all of topic A, then going on to B, etc., you would take a spiral approach.
That is, in your first pass through the material, you would teach the "big" ideas
(i.e., those highest in the hierarchy) in all three topics, then on successive passes
you would begin to elaborate the details. Along the way you would point out
principles that the three topics had in common, and things that differentiated
them."

FNF: David Ausubel http://www.hi.is/~joner/eaps/wh_ausub.htm Gert: 99.08.26

Meaningful Learning Model

David Ausubel is a psychologist who advanced a theory that contrasted


meaningful learning from rote learning. In Ausubel’s view, to learn meaningfully,
students must relate new knowledge (concepts and propositions) to what they
already know. He proposed the notion of advanced organizers as a way to help
students link their ideas with new material or concepts. Ausubel's theory of
learning claims that new concepts to be learned can be incorporated into more
inclusive concepts or ideas. These more inclusive concepts or ideas are advance
organizers. Advance organizers can be verbal phrases (the paragraph you are
about to read is about Albert Einstein), or a graphic. In any case, the advance
organizer is designed to provide, what cognitive psychologists call the "mental
scaffolding: to learn new information.

Meaningful Learning Contrasted with Rote Learning

Type of Learning Characteristics


Meaningful Learning Non arbitrary, non-verbatim, substantive
incorporation of new knowledge into
cognitive structure

Deliberate effort to link new knowledge


with higher order concept in cognitive
structure

Learning related to experience with


events or objects
Affective commitment to relate new

knowledge to prior learning


Rote Learning Arbitrary, verbatim, non-substantive

incorporation of new knowledge into

cognitive structure

No effort to integrate new knowledge


with

existing concepts in cognitive structure

Learning not related to experience with

events or objects

No affective commitment to relate new


knowledge to prior learning

 David Ausubel is a psychologist who advanced a theory which contrasted


meaningful learning from rote learning.
 Ausubel’s theory is involved with how individuals learn large amounts of
“meaningful” material from verbal/textual lessons in school, as opposed to
theories of learning developed in laboratories.
 Ausubel’s subsumption theory contends that “the most important single factor
influencing learning is what the learner already knows” (Ausubel, 1968).
 According to Ausubel, a primary process in learning is subsumption in which new
material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structures.
 Ausubel proposes an instructional mode using advance organizers. He emphasizes
that advance organizers are different from overviews and summaries which
simply emphasize key ideas and details in an arbitrary manner. Organizers act as
a “subsuming bridge” (Ausubel, 1963) between new learning material and
existing related ideas.
 Rote Learning
 Arbitrary, verbatim, non-substantive incorporation of new knowledge into
cognitive structure.
 No effort to integrate new knowledge with existing concepts in cognitive
structure.
 Learning not related to experience with events or objects.
 No affective commitment to relate new knowledge to prior learning.

 Meaningful Learning
 Non-arbitrary, non-verbatim, substantive incorporation of new knowledge
into cognitive structure.
 Deliberate effort to link new knowledge with higher order concepts in
cognitive structure
 Learning related to experiences with events or objects.
 Affective commitment to relate new knowledge to prior learning.