Advanced Organizer Model (Ausubel)

David Ausubel, M.D. (1918 - 2008 )Meaningful Verbal

Biography David Ausubel was an American psychologist who did his undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania (pre-med and psychology). He graduated from medical school at Middlesex University. Later he earned a Ph.D in Developmental Psychology at Columbia University. He was influenced by the work of Piaget. He served on the faculty at several universities and retired from academic life in 1973 and began his practice in psychiatry. Dr. Ausubel published several textbooks in developmental and educational psychology, and more than 150 journal articles. He was awarded the Thorndike Award for "Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education" by the American Psychological Association (1976).


  • An 'advance organizer is a cognitive instructional strategy used to promote the learning and retention of new information
  • “ An advance organizer is information that is presented prior to learning and that can be used by the learner to organize and interpret new incoming information (Mayer, 2003).
  • “ 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.".
“ An advance organizer is not an overview, but rather a presentation of information (either verbal or visual) that are "umbrellas" for the new material to be learned.


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 believed that learning proceeds in a top-down, or deductive manner. Ausubel's theory consists of three phases, presentation of an advance organizer, presentation of learning task or material, and strengthening the cognitive organization. Ausubel's Model of Learning: The main elements of Ausubel's model are

Phase I (includes presentation of the advance organizer)

  • Clarify the aimes of the lesson
  • Presentation of the advance organizer
  • Prompting awareness of relevant knowledge

Phase II (includes making links to/from the organizer)

  • Presentation of the learning task or learning material
  • Make organization and logical order of learning material explicit

Phase III (strengthening of the cognitive organization)

  • Integrative reconciliation and active reception learning (e.g. the teacher can ask learners to make summaries, to point our differences, to relate new examples with the organizer).
  • Elicit critical approach to subject matter (have students think about contraditions or implicit inferences in the learning material or previous knowledge)
The simple principles behind advance organizers are that:
  1. Most general ideas should be presented first in an organized way (not just a summary) and then progressively differentiated.
  2. Following instructional materials should integrate new concepts with previously presented information and with an overall organization.
Therefore, advance organizers present a higher level of abstraction. They are not just simple overviews, illustrating examples etc. ! But they share with such techniques the idea, that they must be integrated with other teaching/learning activities.