Ausubel's Meaningful Learning in Action

Ausubel's Meaningful Learning in Action

By Sarah Cottingham

Published 14 Jul 2023

Regular price
Sale price
Regular price
Out of stock
Unit price

American psychologist and psychiatrist David Ausubel is well known for his famous quote:

"The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly" (Ausubel, 1968, vi).

But few know about the richness and importance of his assimilation theory of meaningful learning and retention, which holds many more instruction-altering insights. One of the main reasons why this theory is so important is because it focuses on the end goal teachers are after: teachers don't want students to memorise distinct ideas; teachers want students to develop vast bodies of knowledge in the subjects they are taught. Ausubel explains that the only way to achieve this is through supporting students to learn meaningfully.

This book explores the key elements of the theory and what it means to learn meaningfully. It then links the theory to highly practical implications teachers can use day-to-day in all aspects of their teaching.
Sarah Cottingham is a teacher educator working on improving professional development for teachers and school leaders. She has an MA in Educational Neuroscience from UCL and Birkbeck university. Studying the brain helped deepen Sarah's fascination with how our memories work and how we can best support student learning.

Sarah is the author of Ausubel's Meaningful Learning in Action. Ausubel's assimilation theory of meaningful learning and retention has added a new dimension to Sarah's understanding of memory: meaningful learning is how students best develop vast bodies of knowledge. Sarah has written this book because she believes that Ausubel's theory deserves to reach a far wider audience: it has the power to change how teachers make decisions about curriculum, instruction and assessment to catalyse student learning.

Sarah also writes concise blogs that make complex concepts accessible and practical to teachers. You can read them at
  • Author Sarah Cottingham
  • ISBN 9781398341432
  • No. of Pages 128
  • Format Paperback
  • Publication Date 14 Jul 2023