GRAPHIC ADVANCE ORGANIZERS AND READING PERFORMANCE
ELKIN, MICHAEL LANCE
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This study sought to determine the effectiveness of teaching the structure of the discipline of sociology as an advance organizer on reading comprehension and delayed recall in sociology. It was based on the theory of advance organizers proposed by David Ausubel. A visual model of the structure of sociology was taught by audio tape to urban community college students who were poor readers. One hundred sixty nine (169) students were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group. Treatment consisted of an audio tape explaining the visual model of the structure of sociology. The control group received the model but listened to a placebo tape giving general instructions about the procedures of the experiment. Each tape was played once, but time was given to all students to take notes and the experiment was individually paced.;All students took a model mastery test, then a reading comprehension test in sociology text material. Three weeks later, students were post-tested on both tests to measure delayed recall. The tests, which were specifically constructed for this study, were based upon Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (level two) and Anderson's criteria for comprehension tests.;Six directional hypotheses were generated. (1) There will be significant difference between treatment and control groups on the model mastery test. (2) There will be a significant difference between treatment and control groups on the sociology reading test. (3) In the treatment group, there will be a significant difference, on the sociology reading test between those students meeting criterion on the model mastery test and those falling below criterion. Hypotheses four and five are analogous to hypotheses two and three with respect to delayed recall. Hypothesis six stated that differences between the sociology test and retest could be accounted for as a result of differences between the model mastery test and retest.;Analysis of variance and co-variance, with reading scores as the co-variate, showed no significant differences at the .05 level of confidence with the exception of the first hypothesis. The first hypothesis stated there would be a significant difference between treatment and control groups on the model mastery test. This demonstrated the treatment group learned the model of sociology to a significantly greater extent than the control group. However, this knowledge of the structure of sociology made no significant difference on the sociology reading test or on delayed recall. Even those students who met mastery criterion on the model mastery test did not comprehend to a significantly greater extent than those students who did not achieve criterion on the model mastery test.;The results of this study do not support Ausubel's advance organizer theory. The theory appears inappropriate when applied to improving reading comprehension in sociology. Sociology may not in fact or may not be perceived as hierarchically structured and therefore not ameanable to Ausubel's advance organizer theory which is based upon hierarchical subsumption.;Many interpretations of the advance organizer appear in the literature. This has presented problems in operationally defining the advance organizer which has resulted in ambivalent findings. Further analysis of the advance organizer has led to postulating two types--distal and proximal. The type used in this study, and most others was the distal organizer. This is, conceptually distant from the target learning material. These distal organizers, while of greater practical value, have not shown to be significantly effective in controlled studies. The proximal organizer, one which is conceptually close and integral to the target learning material offers greater promise for future research.
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