What are the effects of using various forms of advance organizers on student learning in a constructivist environment; specifically their willingness and ability to gather, compare and apply evidence, work collaboratively and express what they have learned in writing, oral presentions and other activities?
What is constructivist learning? Students learn best when they apply their knowledge to solve authentic problems, engage in "sense-making" dialogue with peers, and strive for deep understanding of core ideas rather than recall of a laundry list of facts. Experiences include problem-based learning, inquiry activities, dialogues with peers and teachers that encourage making sense of the subject matter, exposure to multiple sources of information, and opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding in diverse ways
Advance Organizers Introductory material presented in advance of the learning material itself and at a higher level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness than the learning material itself. The organizers provide a link between the new material to be learned and the learner's cognitive structure and help the learner see where new information fits in relation to the general knowledge associated with the material or to what he or she already knows.
The original model of advance organizers was proposed by David Ausubel in the 1960s. Ausubel was an advocate of presentational methods of teaching (lectures and readings). Advance organizers are based on the major concepts, propositions, generalizations, principles, and laws of a discipline. Traditional learning activities such as istening, watching and reading neednt be rote or passive activities. If the learner begins with the right set, and if the material is solidly organized, then meaningful learning can occur. Ausubel's organizers were in the form of sentences, paragraphs or questions. (Joyce & Weil, 2000)
Extending the concept of the advance organizer Barron, Hawk, Joyce & Weil, Kenny and others have proposed alternate forms including: graphic organizers, statements, demonstrations, films, dialogue, stories, programs, objects, games, maps and working models. Regardless of the form, the purpose of the organizer remains the same, to link new material to prior knowledge and set the stage for new learning activities.