Our Learning Guide For Teachers

Do your students need support in activating or filling gaps in their prior knowledge in order to be a successful learner?


A person’s background knowledge, often called prior knowledge, is a collection of “abstracted residue” that has been formed from all of life’s experiences. We all bring diverse bits of background knowledge—consciously or subconsciously—to every subsequent experience, and we use them to connect or glue new information to old. Background knowledge is an essential component in learning because it helps us make sense of new ideas and experiences (Lent, 2012).


Without background knowledge, students may be able to read a text without fully comprehending all of the messages conveyed by the author. Some learners lack the background knowledge to assimilate or use new information from the text. Other learners may have necessary background knowledge, but do not know why it is relevant. In either case, lack of background knowledge can hinder a learner’s ability to access and comprehend complex texts.


Explore this learning guide to discover four instructional routines with resources that build background knowledge—Virtual Field Trips, Multimedia, Picture Books and WebQuests.  These highly engaging routines and resources are ready to be implemented in your classroom tomorrow– check them out and share them with a colleague!  What ways do you build background knowledge for all learners?  Share your ideas with us by replying below.