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Methods to Activate Accurate Prior Knowledge

Use Exercises to Generate Students’ Prior Knowledge because students learn most effectively when they connect new knowledge to prior knowledge, it can be helpful to begin a lesson by asking students what they already know about the topic in question. This can be done any number of ways, such as by asking students to brainstorm associations or create a concept map.

Once students have activated relevant prior knowledge in their heads, they are likely to be able to integrate new knowledge more successfully. However, since activities like this can generate inaccurate and inappropriate as well as accurate and relevant knowledge, you should be prepared to help students distinguish between them. Explicitly Link New Material to Knowledge from Previous Courses Students tend to compartmentalize knowledge by How Learning Works 32 course, semester, professor, or discipline.

As a result, they may not recognize the relevance of knowledge from a previous course to a new learning situation. For example, students who have learned about the concept of variability in a statistics course often do not bring that knowledge to bear on the concept of volatility in a finance course both because of the difference in terminology and because they do not see the link between the two contexts.

Methods of Prior

However, if you make the connection between variability and volatility explicit, it allows students to tap into that prior knowledge and build on it productively. Explicitly Link New Material to Prior Knowledge from Your Own Course although we often expect students to automatically link what they are learning to knowledge gained earlier in the same course, they may not do so automatically. Thus, it is important for instructors to highlight these connections.

Think back to the research design Johnson used in the article from last week” or “Where have we seen this phenomenon before?” Students can also be encouraged to look for connections within course materials in other ways.

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For example, the instructor can ask students to write reflection papers that connect each reading to other readings and to larger themes in the course. Also, discussions provide an ideal opportunity to elicit students’ knowledge from earlier in the semester and to link it to new material.

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