Bruner suggest that learning occurs through discovery. Ausubel says it can occur through meaningful reception learning. If we look at Ausubel’s point of view, discovery learning involves rote learning. According to Ausubel, rote learning refers memorization which means no real connection between what was already known and what was memorized (Driscoll, 2005). However, his meaningful reception learning refers to the process of relating new information (meaningful information) and prior knowledge. So learner constructs his meanings cognitively. While in Bruner’s discovery learning process, learner rearrange given information, link with existing knowledge and discover end product, in Ausubel’s receptional learning, content of what will be learned is present as a whole and learner has to internalize the information with an appropriate form for later use(Driscoll, 2005). On the other hand, Bruner gives information about how instruction should be organized. Ausubel also suggest subsumption which is similar with Piaget’s Assimilation concept. Subsumption means putting any knowledge into a larger, more comprehensive existing knowledge category. In subsumption theory, Ausubel suggests that learning occurs when new information is linked to what have already known. For Bruner, every knowledge should be thought at every age, but it is important that how the knowledge is presented. There is a sequence of presenting knowledge from enactive representation, iconic representation to symbolic representation. Both of them give importance readiness for learning. While Ausubel gives importance learners’ developmental level of cognitive structure in terms of existing knowledge, Bruner focuses on not only prior knowledge for discovery but also mode of thinking or representations(enactive, iconic, symbolic). Also both of them stress learning through relating to existing knowledge and meaning is anchored by linking to known concepts (ITD, 2004).
As Ausubel’s instructional approach can be thought as expository teaching, Bruner’s method is discovery learning.
According to Ausubel the basic principle for appropriate teaching strategies is regardless of who the learner is. Like Bruner, Ausubel claims that instructional materials should be appropriate for the child. However, while Ausubel takes into account prior knowledge for appropriateness, Bruner gives importance child’s dominant mode of thinking (enactive, iconic, symbolic) as the basis for appropriateness. According to Bruner, to decide which representation is appropriate for learner when organizing instruction, knowing something about learner’s prior knowledge is essential. (Driscoll, 2005). So, activating learner’s prior knowledge is also important both of them to make connection new incoming information.
While Bruner emphasized inductive learning whish refers making general rule from specific examples to general learning from experience (experiential learning), Ausubel focuses on deductive learning which means having a general rule and applying it to specific. Ausubel suggests using analogies, questions or examples about daily life as advance organizers at the beginning of lesson. His advance organizer concepts refers to information that is presented before learning process for organizing and interpreting new information by the learner. According to Ausubel’s point of view, in addition to analogies, concept maps or Vee diagrams can be appropriate instructional tools to make learning meaningful by linking concepts each other.
According to Bruner’s point of instructions should be organized by giving opportunities to learner for discovering. For instance, in schools role playing, group projects or computer simulations can be help for discovery (Schunk, 2008). For Bruner, sequence is important while presenting material. Also for effective instruction, Bruner states that instruction should associated with learners’ predisposition. In both of the theories, instruction should encourage the child for discovery learning.
Role of teacher
For both Ausubel and Bruner, teacher is a guide. According to Bruner’s theory instructor plays a crucial role in terms of guiding students’ learning For Bruner, feedbacks are important for instruction and teacher should give feedbacks as a guide. The instructor should provide adequate materials and support to stimulate the student into discovering the knowledge on his own. For Ausubel teacher’s role is making information meaningful for learners. Teacher can use different materials to make students learn on by own. As Ausubel’s teacher have a role of providing a brief introduction about the way that information is going to be presented and help learners to make meaningful connections to existing knowledge, Bruner’s teacher leads learner to discovery and learning on by own. In both of the theories teacher have a role as a guide when learners constructs their meanings in cognitive schemas.
Ausubel claims that two important factors affect readiness. First one is age of the learners and the second one is culture that child lives in. Students have prior knowledge in their culture as experiences. For Ausubel as prior knowledge important for learning, culture also becomes important. He says that some students should be less successful than others because of the culture they come from (Driscoll, 2005). Also for Ausubel, teacher and student interaction is important as a social factor. Bruner emphasizes the importance of cultural differences are important in learning. According to Bruner social factors, particularly language, were important for cognitive growth.
For both of the two theories, prior knowledge is important to make connections with new incoming knowledge and existing knowledge.
For Ausubel’s theory that existing cognitive is the principal factor influencing the learning and retention of meaningful material. Ausubel suggests that learning occurs when new information is linked to what have already known. Therefore, prior knowledge is the most significant factor to determine what new learning will occur.
For Bruner students require background preparation for discovery learning. Discovery process also can inhibit learning when students have no prior knowledge (Schunk. 2008). According to Bruner, to decide which representation is appropriate for learner when organizing instruction, knowing something about learner’s prior knowledge is essential. (Driscoll, 2005).
Role of the learner
For Ausubel and Bruner learner are cognitively active in learning processes. According to Bruner, learner rearranges given information, links with existing knowledge and discovers end product. The knowledge is grasped by the learner itself.
For Ausubel learner have a role as making connections between prior knowledge and existing knowledge. In reception learning learner receives information but it does not mean learner is passive; on the contrary learner is cognitively active. The learner constructs knowledge making connections with existing knowledge to internalize the information with an appropriate form for later use.