Advance Organizers and the Transfer of Information

An advance organizer organizes new material based on what students already know. Information is outlined, arranged and structured progressing from the most general and comprehensive ideas at the beginning to more detailed and more specific. Not only do advance organizers prepare students for new information, but also aid in the process of applying knowledge to new situations. This transfer of information counteracts the laundry list of facts that are often presented to students in the classroom. Jerome Bruner, Harvard Professor and distinguished educational psychologist writes, “We know perfectly well that there are good rote techniques whereby you can get the child to come back with a long list of information. This list is no good, however, because the child will use it in a single situation and possibly not even effectively then. There must be some other way of teaching so that the child will have a high likelihood of transfer” (Bruner, 1966). According to Dell’Olio & Donk, Teachers must provide their students with a abundant amounts of information and advance organizers increase the likelihood of understanding, retention and transfer of information (2007, 388). As instructional materials, advance organizers most effectively integrate new material with previously presented information through use of comparisons and cross-referencing. In this way, students establish connections, are able to understand the structure behind the material that is being presented, and are then better prepared to receive and digest the new material provided.


graphic retrieved on February 3, 2013 from:

“Some Elements of Discovery” by Jerome Bruner from:
Lee S. Shulman and Evan R. Keislar, editors. Learning By Discovery: A Critical Appraisal (1966).

Jeanine M. , D., & Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching: Connection Student Learning With Standards. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.