Meaningful learning and Schema Theory - Scholar by fjzhangweiyun

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									EDCI 5774-092203


            Unit3: Meaningful learning and Schema Theory
                                    By Yeonjeong Park



   Sometimes we might feel our brain is like “blank” when we didn’t get anything even

though we were sitting for one hour in the classroom with excellent lecture. We would

say “it is not meaningful.” Meaning occurs when learners actively interpret their

experiences using certain internal, cognitive operations (Driscoll, 2005, p.115).

Ausubel’s meaningful reception learning accounts for these “cognitive operations” and

“how they interact with prior knowledge to give rise to learning.” According to Ausubel,

new information can be 1) subordinate, 2) superordinate to, and 3) coordinate with an

existing idea. Ausubel expressed it as subsumption which is anchoring ideas as hooks

that snag those incoming details and modifiers pertaining to them.

   However, over time a single inclusive concept tends to be remembered, and a large

number of specific details become distinguishable easily. Although information in both

rote and meaningful learning becomes irretrievable, it is important there is a difference

between forgetting after “rote learning” and forgetting after “meaningful learning”

(Driscoll, 2005, p.124).

   Rote learning is like verbatim memorization, and meaningful learning is the process

of connecting potentially meaningful information to what the learner already knows in a

substantive way. Thus, meaningful learning differs from rote learning in terms of

whether learner has made real connection between what was already known and what

was memorized.

   Anchoring ideas are the specific and relevant idea in the learner’s cognitive structure

that provides the entry points for new information to be connected (Driscoll, 2005,

p.124). The anchoring ideas are significant because they make the learner to construct



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meaning from potentially meaningful information. Although Ausubel’s meaningful

learning primarily focuses on the intentional learning like school situation with Gagne, I

think, this notion of anchoring ideas can be thought broadly into general human learning.

Since anchoring ideas is easily hooked to many cues in daily life, learner’s own

organizer made by using appropriate cues and connecting with anchoring idea will

facilitate vivid subsumption activity which will result in real learning.

    However, Ausuble’s meaningful learning cannot be explained without prior

knowledge. In this regard, meaningful learning is similar to schema theory and the

anchoring idea can compare with schema. But schema theory gives more explanation

and value in terms of learner’s active role especially, in problem solving.

    Schema is a data structure for representing the generic concepts stored in memory

and schemata are pockets of knowledge (Rumelhart, 1980, p.34). Thus, schema theory

is about how schemata are represented and how that representation facilitates the use of

the knowledge. According to this theory, learning is changes in existing schemata and

the acquisition of new schemata through 1) accretion, 2) tuning, 3) reconstructing.

These processes are akin to Ausubel’s 1) derivative, 2) correlative subsumption, and 3)

superordinate or combinational learning.

    Although relevant prior knowledge can not guarantee meaningful learning,

activation of prior knowledge is definitely first step of instruction. And it should not be

left to chance (Driscoll, 2005). For this, advanced organizers has considered as effective

way. According to Mayer(1979) analogies, images, and examples may best serve as

effective advance organizers. West et al. (1991) have emphasized the verbal nature of

them but, visual material may serve effectively. Like Ausubel, schema theory also

focuses on activating prior knowledge through schema signals. In terms of transfer,

although it may be a matter of invoking a relevant schema, determining when a schema

is relevant is difficult task.

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