This module models the UDL Principles of Representation and Action & Expression.

Advance Organizers

Preparing Students for Learning


Contributing Faculty

Morgan James
STEPP Program
East Carolina University

Dr. Derrick Wirtz
East Carolina University

Tiffany Woodward
Business Management
East Carolina University


Faculty members are often in search of methods for presenting content that are beneficial in helping different types of college students learn. One approach, the Advance Organizer, is a visual organization practice which can be used at the beginning of a class or a new unit of study to present new information to students. It can also set the stage for building on existing knowledge from prior learning. This type of organizer has a dual purpose to help students prepare for class by providing an overview of what will be discussed and then provide more detailed insight into the material as it is taught; facilitating the ability for students to make connections between the main ideas and supplementary content throughout each class period or unit of study.

At East Carolina University, (ECU) Faculty members are using Advance Organizers to benefit different types of student learners so they get the most out of each class. Morgan James, an instructor in a Trends and Issues in Education course is working with Advance Organizers while teaching a unique population of students with learning differences. Mrs. James indicates that she wants the students to be prepared before class and have the necessary tools to provide aid while learning. To do this, she begins each semester with a form of advance organizer called the Course Organizer Routine, developed by the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas. This organizer helps to frame the course for students and establish expectations and also a point of reference during the semester to help students connect the overall goals of the class with each individual lesson. Additionally she provides PowerPoint materials which cover the material to be discussed in each individual class. These materials are conveniently located on her Blackboard site where students can print them before class. These PowerPoints provide a note-taking tool for students to use during instruction as well as a pre-class overview of what they will learn. In addition to PowerPoint materials, this instructor also provides guided notes which is a form of text organizer, which give her students the opportunity to follow along and fill in gaps while she lectures.

Dr. Derrick Wirtz, a Psychology professor at ECU, currently uses Advance Organizers and has been since he was a graduate student. Dr. Wirtz provides students with an outline organizer text organizer which follows his PowerPoint slides. He wants his students to have access to course material in advance via instructional technology like Blackboard so they can print the notes and use them during class. Dr. Wirtz shares that this model helps support his student's note-taking and make the class a more flexible and engaging environment.

Tiffany Woodward, a Management instructor in the College of Business at ECU, shares her experience using Advance Organizers as a way of easing the strain of taking notes during class. Ms. Woodward provides PowerPoint materials before class on her Blackboard site to accommodate her student's needs. Ms. Woodward understands the difference between learning styles and wants to give her students every opportunity to be successful in her course. Providing materials before class gives her students ample time to browse and gain understanding of course concepts which are later applied during class activities which reinforce learning.

Read more in the Instructional Practice section about Instructor use and rationale for use of Advance Organizers in the classroom.

Module Format

Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of the module content. (A concept map represents information or concepts in a graphical format .) The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and, in some cases, the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.

Figure 1, the concept map shown below, illustrates the instructional practice in this module, which is

Clicking on the concept map, Figure 1, will enlarge the image.

Concept map presenting an overview of the module content as noted in preceding paragraphs.

Figure 1: Concept Map for Advance Organizers

Module Navigation

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Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 2 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.

Figure 2: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.

The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.

Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).