Applied Linguistics

Meaningful learning theory by david ausubel characteristics Contributions to education

Meaningful learning theory is a method of learning in which new acquired knowledge is related to previous knowledge. It is a way of learning, as opposed to traditional learning, which is more mechanical.

In meaningful learning, students actively integrate new information into older information. The mapping concept has been a useful technique for this; allows students to connect their existing knowledge with the subjects they are learning.

David Ausubel, who first spoke about this type of learning, was an American cognitive psychologist who focused on the learning of high school students; He was especially interested in what the student already knew, as, according to him, it was the main determinant of what he would learn later.

Ausubel saw learning as an active process and did not believe that it was simply a passive response to the environment around us. Students and learners actively seek to understand the environment by integrating new knowledge with what they have already learned.

Cognitive structure in meaningful learning

The key concept of Ausubel’s learning theory is cognitive structure. He saw cognitive structure as the sum of all the knowledge we acquire, as well as the relationships between the facts, concepts, and principles that make up that knowledge.

For Ausubel, meaningful learning consists of bringing something new to our cognitive structure and linking it to the existing knowledge located in that structure. In this way we form the meaning.

In the preface to his book Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View , Ausubel writes:

“The most important factor influencing learning is what the student already knows. Find out what he already knows and teach him accordingly” (Ausubel, 1968, p. Vi)

This led Ausubel to develop an interesting theory about meaningful learning and to promote the organizers.

You are reading the theory of Meaningful Learning

Characteristics of Meaningful Learning

Ausubel’s theory focuses on meaningful learning. According to his theory, to learn meaningfully, individuals must relate new knowledge to relevant concepts they already know. New knowledge must interact with the student’s knowledge structure.

Meaningful learning can be contrasted with machine learning. The latter can also incorporate new information into the existing knowledge structure, but without interaction.

Memory mechanics are used to remember sequences of objects, such as phone numbers. However, they are of no use to the person memorizing them in understanding the relationships between objects, since concepts learned through mechanical memory cannot be related to prior knowledge.

In essence, there is nothing in the person’s existing cognitive structure to which the new information can relate to form meaning. In this way, it can only be learned mechanically.

Advantages of Learning Significantly

Meaningful learning adheres to prior knowledge and becomes the basis for learning additional information. Machine learning doesn’t stick because it doesn’t have these meaningful connections. Therefore, the memory quickly disappears.

As meaningful learning involves recognizing the links between concepts, it has the privilege of being transferred to long-term memory. The most crucial element in Ausubel’s meaningful learning is how new information is integrated into the structure of knowledge.

Consequently, Ausubel believed that knowledge is organized hierarchically: new information is meaningful so that it can be related to what we already know.

When is there meaningful learning?

If a person has relevant content in their existing cognitive structure to which new materials can be related, learning can be meaningful.

If the new materials cannot be related to any prior knowledge, learning can only take place mechanically.

How to learn meaningfully?

Ausubel advocates using advanced organizers as a mechanism to help link new learning material to related ideas that already exist.

Advanced organizers or advanced organizers consist of brief introductions to a topic, providing a structure for the student so that the student relates the new information presented with their previous knowledge.

Advanced organizers have a very high level of abstraction and are the beginning of a deductive exposition; they are the beginning of an exposition that goes from the most general to the most particular. These tools have the following essential characteristics:

  • Promotion organizers are usually a small set of verbal or visual information.
  • They are introduced to the student before starting to learn a body of knowledge.
  • They are high level of abstraction, in the sense that they do not contain new information to learn.
  • Its purpose is to provide the student with the means to generate logical relationships with the new material.
  • They influence the student’s coding process.

Ausubel’s theory of advanced organizers states that there are two categories: comparative and expository.

comparative organizers

This type of organizer activates existing schemas and is used as a reminder to bring back to working memory what you may not consciously consider relevant. A comparison organizer is used to integrate information and break it down.

“Comparative organizers integrate new ideas with concepts basically similar to cognitive structure and further increase the discrimination between new and existing ideas, which are essentially different but can be easily confused” (Ausubel, 1968)

exhibition organizers

Exhibition organizers are often used when new learning material is unfamiliar to the student.

They often relate what the student already knows to new and unfamiliar material to make that little-known material more plausible to the person.

Examples of meaningful learning

In educational contexts, the best way to present advanced organizers is in written and concrete form, contrary to what Ausubel proposed, which stated that advanced organizers should be abstract in nature.

In addition, several guidelines have been suggested regarding the use of organizers:

  • Advanced organizers should only be used when subjects cannot make the proper connections on their own.
  • They must be used explicitly.
  • Organizers must provide students with sufficient time to study the materials.
  • It is advisable for students to be tested to see what they remember after a short period of time.

Hung and Chao (2007) summarize three design principles that Ausubel proposed for building advanced organizers.

First, the person who designs them must determine the content of the advanced organizer based on the principle of assimilation.

Second, the designer must consider the suitability of the content, taking into account the characteristics of the student or student.

Third and last, the designer must choose between advanced expository and comparative organizers.

assimilation theory

Unlike many other educational theories, Ausubel’s assimilation theory was developed exclusively for educational projects. Develop a way to create teaching materials that help students organize content to make it meaningful and learn better.

The four principles of assimilation theory:

  1. More general concepts should be introduced to students first and then passed on for analysis.
  2. Teaching materials must include new and previously acquired information. Comparisons between new and old concepts are crucial for learning.
  3. The existing cognitive structures should not be developed, but simply reorganized in the student’s memory.
  4. The instructor’s task is to bridge the gap between what the student already knows and what he or she should learn.

Contributions to education

Ausubel published his most important book on learning theory, Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View , in 1968, with a second edition in 1978. He was one of the first cognitive theorists during a period when behaviorism was the theory. dominant that most influenced education.

For various reasons, Ausubel never received the recognition it deserved. Many of his ideas have found their way into the stream of educational psychology, but Ausubel has not been given due credit. For example, it was Ausubel who created the advanced organizers that are common in today’s textbooks.

He was also the one who first emphasized that it was convenient to start with a general idea of ​​the subject to learn or study or with a fundamental structure and later learn the details.

This approach is practiced in many contexts today, but at the time it was in stark contrast to behavioral theories, which emphasized the importance of starting and creating small pieces of content.

Ausubel emphasized that what most influenced learning was what the student already knows, that is, the content of their cognitive structure. Currently, most educational styles attempt to combine instruction with the student’s prior knowledge so that the student learns in a meaningful way, exactly what Ausubel claimed.

Although Ausubel’s name is not widely recognized in the world of education, his ideas have a growing impact. This helped psychology to break away from the rigid educational approaches derived from behavioral theories.

It was also an impulse to start thinking about what was going on inside students’ brains when teachers were teaching them.

Ausubel was one of the first theorists to see learning as an active process, not a passive experience. He wanted education professionals to involve students in their own learning and help them relate new content to what they already know to make sense of new knowledge.

We hope that you have known about the theory of Meaningful Learning after reading this article.

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