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Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2013 - Wilde | Claire's Personal Page | Advanced Organizer Approach to Instruction


The topic of this course is Advance Organizer Approaches to Instruction.

The purpose of this course is to present the theoretical and practical rationales behind the Advance Organizer Approach and to demonstrate how it can be designed and used to enhance instruction.

Topics to be covered in this course include:

  • Learning Styles and preferences
  • Theoretical background of advance organizer approaches to instruction
  • Primary components of basic advance organizers
  • Design Considerations
  • Identifying uses and modifications of the approach
  • Application of the Approach


Adapted from Shambaugh, R. N. & Magliaro, S. G. (1997). Mastering the Possibilities - A process approach to instructional design. Allyn and Bacon.

Problem Analysis

  • Instructional Problem: Instructors teaching college-level courses in an online environment often seek alternative ways to present course content in order to simplify and/or improve user navigation elements, visual appeal, organization, and overall student satisfaction. This mini-course will provide online instructors with foundational theory as well as practical methods for employing advance organizer approaches to their courses.

The Ideal

  • Intent Statement: This course seeks to result in measurable cognitive and intellectual learning outcomes on the part of its learners, who are college-level adjuncts teaching in an online environment.

The cognitive outcomes sought are: the development of problem-solving strategies that are transferable to other contexts within the domain (teaching online); meta-cognitive strategies that support self-reflection within the domain.

The intellectual outcomes sought are: the acquisition of the skills and abilities necessary to identify and apply advance organizer design approaches to instructional materials.

The Reality

  • About the Learners/Participants: Mini-course participants are college-level adjunct instructors teaching online courses for a public institution. Participants hold at least a Masters degrees and are from a variety of fields and disciplines, possessing knowledge and/or content expertise in a number of subject areas. All participants have taught online for their institution for more than one term and are familiar with the Learning Management System used. This mini-course is an optional workshop they have self-elected to take in order to improve the overall look and feel of their online courses, as well as their students' experiences in them. The participants are therefore conceived to be intrinsically and extrinsically motivated; to possess a wide variety of prior knowledge and skills; and to have higher-order reading, reasoning, and comprehension skills. In addition, the participants present with a variety of learning styles.
  • Instructional Resources & Content: The mini-course will be designed into four sections called units, and each unit will have the same overall organizational structure applied to the content and activities within. Each unit will have an "Overview" area that provides a brief account of what's to come in that unit and what to expect. Next will be readings and/or content pages, which will provide content in the form of text, links to external resources, and some video. An activity/activities will close each unit and allow participants to assess their progress and/or address misconceptions. Overall, the instructional resources and content will be designed using a cognitive approach to learning, emphasizing intellectual awareness and development of cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies.


  • Summarize and Revise the Instructional Problem: Participants want to present their online curriculum in creative and appropriate ways using a given LMS. This mini-course will provide ideas, frameworks and applications for use of a specific design approach for online course presentation.
  • Goal: Participants will be able to apply advanced organizer approaches to their own instructional materials and courses.


Upon completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Identify their own learning style and preferences given a set of learning styles criteria and their differences
  • Define and classify an advanced organizer approach to content design by describing its basic components
  • Identify the theoretical and pedagogical origins of this content design approach.
  • Adopt advanced organizer approaches to content design in their own courses.


Participants will be able to apply advanced organizer approaches to their own instructional materials and courses.

Task: Apply Advanced Organizer approaches to own instruction.

Step 1. Learners will identify the components of the approach that are relevant to their own instructional context.

1.A: Define basic components of the approach

1.B: Understand the pedagogical rationale of the approach.

Step 2. Learners will identify the benefits of using the approach in their own instruction.

2.A: Learners will summarize the origins and theoretical background of the approach.


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Ausubel, D. (1978). In defense of advance organizers: A reply to the critics. Review of Educational Research, 48, 251-257.

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

Cañas, A. J., Coffey, J. W. (2001). An Advance Organizer Approach to Distance Learning Course Presentation. Proceedings of the International Conference on Technology and Education (ICTE, 2001). Tallahasse, FL.

Cooper, S. (2009). David Ausubel: Meaningful Verbal Learning. Life Circles, Inc. Found at:

Culatta, R. (2013). Subsumption Theory: D. Ausubel. Available at:

Education Portal. (2012). Advance Organizers in the Classroom: Teaching Strategies and Advantages. Found at:

Hannum, W. (2005). Learning Theory Fundamentals. Found at:

Hendron, J. (2003). Advance and Graphical Organizers: Proven Strategies Enhanced Through Technology. Goochland County Public Schools. VA. Found at:

ICT3. (2013). Advance Organizer Model (Ausubel). Found at:

Kingsbury, A. and Kathryn Lay. (2012). Types of Learning Styles. Found at:

MacLeod, S. (2008). Learning Theory in Education: Bruner. Found at:

McCarthy, B. (1990). Using the 4MAT System to Bring Learning Styles to Schools. Educational Leadership, 48(2), 31-37.

Metha, Y. (2009). Jerome Bruner Learning Theory. Slideshare. Found at:

Northwest Educational Technology Consortium. (2005). Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers. Focus on Effectiveness, Northwest Regional Educational Library. Portland, OR.

Northeast Texas Network Consortium. (2002). Advance Organizers: Creating and Using Advance Organizers for Distance Learning. NETNet, Tyler, TX. Found at:

Ogle, D. (1986). KWL: A Teaching Model that Develops Active Reading of Expository Text. The Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570. (chart)

Penn State University. (2001). Learning Styles Inventory. Found at:

4MAT4Business. (2010). Video: What Defines Your Learning Style? Found at: