An Ausubelian Approach to Instruction: The Use of Concept Maps as Advance Organizers in a Junior College Anatomy and Physiology Course

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Donald R. Cotten

Advisor Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry


This study compared two systems for organizing and presenting lecture material: the traditional method of sequencing in close accord with a textbook and an Ausubelian approach using concept maps for sequencing and as advance organizers for instruction. Subjects were students enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology classes at a Mississippi public junior college. Intact class sections were randomly assigned to control (traditional) and experimental (Ausubelian) treatments. The treatment encompassed a three-week unit covering the skeletal system, plus that time required for pretesting and posttesting. Demographic data about the subjects were obtained using a questionnaire. A thirty-item multiple-choice content test was administered three weeks prior to the experimental unit, immediately following the experimental unit, and six weeks following the experimental unit. The Inventory of Student Perceptions of Instruction (ISPI) was administered on the same date as the immediate posttest. Data were analyzed using a variety of statistical techniques. The experimental group exhibited marginally better performance on the immediate posttest than the control group. Experimental group scores on the delayed posttest were significantly higher than those of the control group. The experimental treatment had no great effect on ISPI scores. This study suggests that using concept mapping strategies during instructional planning and concept maps as advance organizers during implementation of that plan is a valid tactic for improving meaningful learning and retention of conceptual material. This study also stresses the importance of delayed posttesting in advance organizer research.