Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Meaningful Learning

  • Richard GunstoneEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_121-2

The term “meaningful learning” became prominent in science education through the work of the educational psychologist David Ausubel and his use of this label in the 1960s to designate learning that is in total contrast to rote learning. At its core this usage can be characterized as suggesting that, in most contexts most of the time, “rote learning is bad; meaningful learning is good.” Such usage has become widespread, so that “meaningful learning” serves as a label for learning seen to be of worth, of real purpose, in a wide variety of contexts. These range from academic discussions of alternative conceptions and the need to pursue conceptual change to popular debates of educational fads (e.g., “does [some specific fad] actually lead to any meaningful learning?”). Meaningful learning has also been central in other theories of learning that have been variously influential in science education, including Wittrock’s Theory of Generative Learning.



Science Education Educational Psychologist Conceptual Change Alternative Conception Meaningful Learning 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia