How does students' prior knowledge affect their learning

This presentation is a summary of important points from the first chapter of the book "How Learning Works - 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching" by Ambrose and others. In Chapter 1 (How Does Students' Prior Knowledge Affect Their Learning) the authors discuss the importance of teachers to recognize that students bring with them prior knowledge acquired naturally through daily life activities or in prior courses they have studied. Some of the prior knowledge are relevant but some are not directly relevant. Sometimes students have misconception or inaccurate understanding of certain key principles or concepts. The authors emphasized the importance of connecting the prior knowledge with the new knowledge in order for effective learning to take place. This connection can be achieved by activating the prior knowledge at appropriate time during the learning process.

I have summarized part of Chapter 1 in the presentation below (in two parts). Each part of the presentation takes about 3 minutes. For best view, I would suggest view in full screen by clicking the "View in HD" button (the icon on the right of speaker icon).

Here's Part 1A:

Here's Part 1B:

NOTE: The presentation was produced on Macbook Pro. All softwares used are free: Microsoft PowerPoint 2011 (Mac), Voki (for narration using text-to-speech), Real Player (downloading and extracting audio), and Screenr (for screen recording). If if you have any technical question, feel free to contact me.


  1. This is very true. Every time we get to know about something new, we try to connect it with what we already know. This is how we can comment on, agree or disagree with that new piece information.
    The suggestion made on "trying to motivate the learners so that they can recall their prior knowledge and as a result have better learning experience" is great. I will try to follow this in my presentations or tutorial classes, when possible.
    Thanks again for another wonderful post!

  2. Most welcome Mostafa. Watch out for the second part of the summary.


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