Improving Academic Background Knowledge
Background knowledge is defined as knowledge that someone already knows about a subject or topic. There are both academic and nonacademic forms of background knowledge. Research has shown that students who possess large amounts of background knowledge learn new information easier, quicker, and retrieve it better than students who have less background information in the same area.
Students' background knowledge can be added to through both direct and indirect experiences. Direct experiences involve actually visiting and personally experiencing places and events. Indirect experiences or virtual experiences are also highly effective in creating or adding to students' background knowledge.
Virtual experiences include reading, educational television, and the Internet. Reading is a superb way to create virtual experiences. Opening books provides students with the opportunity to explore new regions, encounter characters, and mentally participate in new events that they can't experience first hand. Studies have concluded that the vast amount of growing information found on educational television stations and the Internet enhances students' knowledge.
Research has also discovered that background knowledge affects students' later occupations. Knowledge provides students with the opportunity to work in higher status occupations and earn average or higher than average incomes.
Please visit my Virtual Experiences page for a list of sites that I believe are helpful in creating and adding to students' background knowledge.
Source: Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement
Robert J. Marzano,ASCD, 2004