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Prior Knowledge

Page history last edited by Andy 14 years, 8 months ago


Principle 2. Prior knowledge:


    According to Rochelle (1995), pre-existing knowledge has a greater impact on what is

learned than from the presentation of new information itself. How is this significant given

the latitude learners have in constructivist learning environments to select, organize, and

integrate new information within their pre-existing knowledge base (Mayer, 1999)? Will

students know which information is important and is deserving of learning effort? Will

students be able to organize the information into a coherent whole? In short, will students’

prior-knowledge accommodate new learning?


    Mayer, (2004) stated that while learners’ active participation is a key characteristic of the constructivist classroom, it is not a goal in and of itself.  Rather, students’ participation in knowledge building requires purposeful attempts to process incoming information in light of what is already known, and this requires instructor support. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2005) echoed this sentiment in their article, Why Minimally Guided Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem Based, Experiential and Inquiry Based Teaching.


     How best to account for learners’ prior knowledge to facilitate meaning making is not an easy task.  What opportunities do web 2.0 technologies enable?  Considerations include: How can web 2.0 tools be used to elicit prior knowledge? What role can web 2.0 technologies play in facilitating the integration of new and prior knowledge?


Return to Constructivism Overview

Go to Principle 3, Multiple Perspectives


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