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Ausubel, David P. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York and Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968.



This book is divided into seventeen chapters that fall under six separate sections. Each section begins with a theoretical explanation and ends with a discussion on how this theory can inform teaching practices. The “Introduction” section which includes only chapter one deals broadly with the role of educational psychology. Beginning with the subtitle “Why Educational Psychology for Prospective Teachers?” this first chapter grounds the book in the assumption that both the theoretical and practical elements of educational psychology are important for teachers to know. Additionally, this chapter frames the book as a resource for teachers to further their understanding of the relationship between psychology and education so that they may apply this understanding to their teaching.

The second section, “Meaning and Meaningful Learning,” includes chapters two and three. In chapter two Ausubel maps out theories of how meaning is theoretically conceptualized in the discipline of psychology, distinguishing between cognition and perception and meaningful learning and acquiring knowledge. Chapter three follows with a more specific discussion of theories of learning and meaning-making focusing on the different teaching practices which can lend to meaningful learning rather than rote learning.
The third section, “Cognitive Factors in Learning,” includes chapters four through nine. The discussion in chapter four centers around cognitive factors in classroom learning. Here, Ausubel emphasizes the existing structure of knowledge with which students enter the classroom, naming this a crucial “cognitive structure variable” which teachers must work with in developing their practice. Drawing from the information in chapter four, in chapter five the author narrows down the discussion to developmental psychology theories to explain how cognitive development occurs. He focuses both on age and experience as factors. Chapter six is specifically dedicated to theories of intelligence in relation to theories of cognitive development. To follow the theoretical discussion outlined in these three chapters, in chapters seven through nine the author provides teachers with an outline of the implications of this theory in practice.
The fourth section, “Affective and Social Factors in Learning,” includes chapters ten through thirteen. Here, the first three chapters deal separately with the impact of motivational factors, personality factors, and social factors in learning. To complement this theoretical outline of factors known to influence learning, Ausubel ends this section with a chapter devoted to how these same factors can influence teaching.
he fifth section, “Discovery Learning,” includes chapters fourteen through sixteen. As the section title suggests, these three chapters focus on both the theory and practice of “discovery learning.” Here, discovery learning is broadly defined as “problem solving.” While chapter fourteen deals specifically with the history of the theory and practice of discovery learning, chapters fifteen and sixteen focus on the developmental aspects of discovery learning ranging from how students “acquire” concepts to how to foster students’ problem solving and creative abilities.
In “Evaluation and Measurement,” the book concludes with a chapter which provides teachers with suggestions grounded in theory and in research on practice for assessing students’ learning.


Ana Laura Pauchulo