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Advance Organizers

In the psychological study of learning, the 1960s marked a shift from behavioral models grounded in stimulus–response associations toward cognitive models derived from the notion that organization and structure were key features of human memory and learning (Mayer & Wittrock, 1996). Behaviorists emphasized the reinforcement of specific, small “steps” that cumulated to form large, complex achievements. Learning hierarchies as described by Gagne (1965) divided large tasks into subtasks, introducing the concept of structural strategies; subtasks were generally larger than stimulus–response associations, and considerable attention was given to the division into subtasks. At about the same time, David Ausubel introduced the concept of advance organizers (AO; Ausubel, 1960, 1968, 2000; Ausubel & Fitzgerald, 1961; Ausubel & Youssef, 1963). Ausubel focused on meaningful verbal learning, the comprehension ...

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