Comparison between schema and advanced organizers theories

Catherine Adiang

Comparison between schema and advanced organizers theories

Schema Theory
“information that fits into a student’s existing schema is more easily understood, learned, and retained than information that does not fit in existing schema”(Dye, 2000). So, a learner uses previously stored information about a topic to process new knowledge about that topic better. Advanced organizers
It is a tool used by instructional designers to help the learner recall and transfer prior knowledge to the new information being presented. Thus, advanced organizers are learning theories that facilitate learning.

Applying schema and advanced organizers to instructional design

The schema theory can be applied in various contexts or fields: Reading, Math, Science, news, stories, narratives, problem-solving learning For instance, if an ESL teacher presents a reading selection about “snow” to newly arrived ESL learners in America during summer. Such a lesson may be boring to the specified audience because they have never seen nor dealt with snow before; hence, have no prior knowledge of the topic. Graphic organizers help organize information, making it less hard to comprehend and learn. Some types are: Word Web, Sequence Chart, Individualized Graphic Organizers, Picture Webs, Venn diagrams, semantic webs, etc.
This theory can aid designers to effectively present their lesson, as well as assist learners to relate it to real life experience so learning can happen. For example, to explain a process for making something, a teacher can use a step-like graphic organizer. This allows students to connect the concept of “steps” that they already know to the lesson being taught
Implications for instructional designers

Instructional designers should select familiar topics that students can relate to in real life.
Be reminded to utilize real scenario, (Widmayer, 2010) rather than abstract or unfamiliar material that the students may not enjoy working on.
Be mindful of cultural differences so as to avoid cultural-biases, as culture plays a big part in developing multiple schemas
Consider learners from different cultures and ability levels; they should help them make connections between new information and their existing awareness.

Teachers and designers can create and/modify existing graphic organizers to fit their learning need. They should also remember to achieve consistency, coherence, creativity. Besides, advanced organizers increase focused attention and should be presented to students, after the content of the lesson has, been introduced. They might appear ineffective if used without pictures.

Lack of a clear definition and empirical grounding. Other limitations are: learners possess not one, but context-specific types of schemas - their schematic inability to build up practical problem solving skills (Widmayer, 2010) - difficult transfer of knowledge outside of the context of acquisition. Advanced organizers might not be effective if used without attractive and vivid graphics.
They might also be boring and fail to do the job of focusing students’ attention to the lesson content.


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By Catherine Adiang.


By definition, an advanced organizer is a tool used by an instructional designer to help the learner recall and transfer prior knowledge to the new information being presented. In theory, David Ausubel was one of the developers of advanced organizers and theorized that advanced organizers facilitated learning.

Basically, in layman’s terms, it is the use of a graphic or text based organizer to facilitate future learning. Advance organizers are typically either text based, such as a list or table, but they can also be graphical, like in a Venn diagram or a flowchart. This information would be presented before instruction as a way to provoke previously existing schemas or to get the learner to start restructuring what they know into new schemas. With the use of an advance organizer, new material will be rendered as more familiar and meaningful, as learners will have an organized structure in place to store new ideas, information, and concepts.-Ty


1. Word Web
2. Sequence Chart
3. Individualized Graphic Organizers
4. Picture Webs

Advance organizers provide optimal anchorage for fresh ideas. In absence of the clear and stable concepts presented by advance organizers, many students may become easily confused and lost in the instruction.-Ty


Implementation must occur in a cohesive format to have a positive impact on student learning. The learner is taught organizational skills when using graphic organizers within the lesson. Implementation needs to occur after the learner has been introduced to the content of the lesson.

The instructional designer needs to understand three principles when implementing graphic organizer in a lesson.

Consistent - Be consistent when using graphic organizers in the instructional design of a lesson.

Coherent - Be coherent when preparing a lesson, so the organizer is clear and precise.

Creative - Be creative when presenting the lesson to capture the attention of the learner.

Literal examples of advance organizers include charts, diagrams, concept maps, or oral presentations. Advance organizers are best employed before the start of a new unit, discussion, homework assignment, video, or similar activity. The steps to successfully employing an advance organizer are as follows. The instructor, before using an advance organizer, should outline the goal of the lesson. The advance organizer is then presented, which should put the new knowledge into context while tying into previous knowledge. Introduce the material by starting out with general ideas first, and then follow with more specific topics. Be sure throughout the lesson to keep bringing up the “big picture” that your advance organizer covered. This will assist students in retaining the new information and meaningful learning. Encourage the students to develop new ideas by introducing new points of view, asking questions, or having them engage their critical thinking skills with a writing assignment. The goal is to get the students to use the new information they have acquired. Be sure to always take time to clarify and address any questions the students may have.-Ty


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Created by:Tama Exsted and Tyler Pulkkinen