Learning can be cognitively inaccessible when it requires specific background knowledge for assimilation, and where there are no options for individuals who differ in their access to that background knowledge. Those barriers can be reduced when options are available that supply or activate relevant prior knowledge, or link to the pre-requisite information elsewhere. The experimental and quantitative evidence listed here suggest the effectiveness of strategies such as anchored instruction, advanced organizers, analogies, and metaphors to activate students’ background knowledge. The scholarly reviews and expert opinions provide a more classroom based perspective on many of the same strategies listed in the experimental evidence section.
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Alvermann, D. E., Smith, L. C., & Readence, J. E. (1985). Prior knowledge activation and the comprehension of compatible and incompatible text. Reading Research Quarterly, 20(4), 420-436.
Bottge, B. A., Rueda, E., Serlin, R. C., & Hung, Y. H. (2007). Shrinking achievement differences with anchored math problems: Challenges and possibilities. The Journal of Special Education, 41(1), 31-49.
Carr, S. C., & Thompson, B. (1996). The effects of prior knowledge and schema activation strategies on the inferential reading comprehension of children with and without learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 19(1), 48-61.
Davis, S. J., & Winek, J. (1989). Improving expository writing by increasing background knowledge. Journal of Reading, 33(3), 178-181.
Dochy, F., Segers, M., & Buehl, M. M. (1999). The relation between assessment practices and outcomes of studies: The case of research on prior knowledge. Review of Educational Research, 69(2), 145.
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Rieth, H. J., Bryant, D. P., Kinzer, C. K., Colburn, L. K., Hur, S. J., & Hartman, P. (2003). An analysis of the impact of anchored instruction on teaching and learning activities in two ninth-grade language arts classes. Remedial and Special Education, 24(3), 173-184.
Schwartz, N. H., Stroud, M., Hong, N. S., Lee, T., Scott, B., & McGee, S. M. (2006). Summoning prior knowledge: The influence of metaphorical priming on learning in a hypermedia environment. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 35(1), 1-30.
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Shyu, H. Y. (1997). Anchored instruction for Chinese students: Enhancing attitudes toward mathematics. International Journal of Instructional Media, 24(1), 55-62.
Shyu, H. Y. (1999). Effects of media attributes in anchored instruction. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 21(2), 119-139.
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Last Updated: 03/10/2011