Ausubel’s Subsumption Theory
Four Processes for
Use of Advance
Subsumption Graphic Organizers
Meaningful Reception of Information
According to David Ausubel, knowledge is
hierarchically organized, and new information
can be attached/anchored to what is already
known. Once a learner successfully attached
this new information to their existing
knowledge, this is where Meaningful
Reception of Information takes place.
Learner’s Cognitive Structure
Learner’s Cognitive Structure is the most
important factor influencing learning. It
pertains to the learner’s present knowledge
including facts, concepts, propositions,
theories and raw perceptual data that the
learner has available at any point in time.
Use of Advance Graphic Organizer
Since the learner’s cognitive structure is the
most important factor influencing the learning,
this should be strengthened. Ausubel proposed
the use of advance organizers to allow students
to already have a bird’s eye view or to see the
“big picture” of the topic to be learned.
Whenever the learner’s cognitive structure is
successfully strengthened, acquisition and
retention of new information is facilitated. This
process is called “subsumption”, in which new
material is related to relevant ideas in the
existing cognitive structure.
This describes the situation in which the new
information you learn is an example of a
concept you already learned.
EXAMPLE: Your concept of bird is that, it has
feathers, beak, and lay eggs. Now you’ve seen
a blue jay, new kind of bird that conforms to
your concept of bird. Your new knowledge
about blue jay is attached to your concept of
bird without altering the concept.
This describes the accommodation of new
information by changing or expanding the
EXAMPLE: You’ve seen a new kind of bird, which
is the ostrich. The ostrich can’t fly, has big body
and long strong legs. To accommodate this new
information, you need to include the concept of
an ostrich to your previous concept of bird. You
expand the concept by including the possibility of
bird being big and having long strong legs.
Superordinate learning is when you knew a lot
of examples of the concept, but did not know
the concept itself until it was taught to you.
EXAMPLE: You knew about banana, mango,
dalandan, guava etc., but you did not know,
until you were taught, that these were all
examples of fruits.
It describes a process by which the new idea is
derived from another idea that is neither higher or
lower in the hierarchy, but at the same level ( in a
different, but related, “branch”).
EXAMPLE: To teach someone about how plants
“breathe” you might relate it to their previously
acquired knowledge of human respiratory where
man inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide.
This is because they are related to each other as
they are both labeled as “process of breathing”.
The advance organizer is a major instructional
tool proposed by Ausubel.
Two Benefits of Advance Organizers:
• You will find it easier to connect new
information with what you already know about
• You can readily see how the concepts in a
certain topic are related to each other.
Types of Advance Organizers
• Expository – describes the new content.
• Narrative – presents the new information in
form of a story to students.
• Skimming – is done by looking over the new
material to gain a basic overview.
• Graphic organizer – visual to set up or outline
the new information. This may include
pictographs, descriptive patterns, concept
patterns, concept maps.