|Effective Educational Practices (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 2000, 24 p.)|
Showing students the relationships between past learning and present learning increases its depth and breadth.
More than a dozen studies have shown that, when teachers explain how new ideas in the current lesson relate to ideas in previous lessons and other prior learning, students can connect the old with the new, which helps them to better remember and understand. Similarly, alerting them to the learning of key-points allows them to concentrate on the most crucial parts of the lessons.
In the classroom
Advance organizers help students focus on key ideas by enabling them to anticipate which points are important to learn. Understanding the sequence or continuity of subject-matter development, moreover, can be motivating. If students simply learn one isolated idea after another, the subject-matter may appear arbitrary. Given a 'mental road map' of what they have accomplished, where they are presently, and where they are going can avoid unpleasant surprises and help them to set realistic goals. Similar effects can be accomplished by goal-setting, overviewing and pre-testing before lessons that sensitize students to important points and questions that they will encounter in textbooks and will be presented by teachers.
It may also be useful to show how what is being learned solves problems that exist in the world outside school and that students are likely to meet in life. For example, human biology that features nutrition and its implications for food choices is likely to be more interesting than abstract biology.
Teachers and textbooks can sometimes make effective use of graphic advance organizers. Maps, timetables, flow charts depicting the sequence of activities, and other such devices may be worth hundreds of words. They may also be easier to remember.
References: Ausubel, 1968; Walberg & Haertel, 1997; Walker, 1987; Weinert, 1989.