If you are introducing new content to students with low-prior knowledge, and the subject matter is comprised of complex vocabulary (ie. introductory science courses), you may want to provide them with advance material coupled with assessment prior to class time. Asides from the motivational aspects of assessments (Connor-Greene, 2000), the results could help in guiding your in-class discussion, and identifying any misconceptions which could be quickly rectified.
Advance material could range from a variety of mediums, such as videos, multimedia, simulations and printed material. Since the students have low-prior knowledge, you should design the learning material with consideration for cognitive load (Sweller, 1994) and the various multimedia learning design principles presented by Richard Mayer (2005) should be taken into consideration.
Pre-class assessments allow you to get a baseline for a student’s understanding of the content prior to class time. Similar to the pre-class material, assessment could take a variety of forms, such a multiple choice questions, matching activities and essays. You should select your assessment type based on it’s affordance towards the content and any logistical obstacle, such as time
Low-prior knowledge students are presented with a challenge when faced with complex vocabulary for subject matters. Furthermore, many of the terms in these subjects, such as math and science, consist of low-frequency words that do not appear outside of the context of the subject. This lack of exposure makes it difficult to “internalize word meanings and develop word ownership” (Harmon, 2005 pg. 263).
According to schema theory (Driscoll, 2005), prior knowledge plays a crucial role in effecting what a learner will take away when new knowledge is introduced. Looking through a constructivist lens, Bruner (1977) suggests that learning experience should not only “take us somewhere”, but it should allow the learner to build future knowledge easier. He saw learning as a “continual broadening and deepening of knowledge in-terms of basic and general ideas” (Bruner, 1997 pg. 17). In the context of an introductory classroom, allowing low-prior knowledge student access to key concepts and vocabulary prior to a lecture could enable them to create the foundation for interrelationships and elaborations on their schemata to occur during class. Through the meaningful use and repetition of vocabulary, which should occur in both the pre-class material and the in-class lecture or activity, the student would have the opportunity to practice with the content, eventually leading to automaticity (Palmeri, 1999).
Assessment of pre-class material serves multiple purposes. According to student self-reports, when in a course with predictable testing intervals, students are prone to procrastinate, and wait till the last minute (Connor-Greene, 2000). This could be interpreted as students being more motivated by test dates then by their everyday learning tasks. Integrating assessments in the pre-class material allows for a level of assurance that students will be prepared to actively engage in class discussions.
Assessments also give the instructor a glimpse at the student grasp of the concept. Either objective multiple choice questions or subjective essays could be created to emphasize the understanding of broad principles of the subject matter (Bruner, 1977). Understanding where student stands on content knowledge, allows an instructor to identify any issues, and make any actively make adjustments for class-time discussion.
A limitation of pre-training is that an instructor would need the ability to assess how well the content was learned by the student, and if there are any misconceptions that need to be addressed during class time. There have been various approaches to incorporating assessments in the beginning of classes (Kilonsky, 2001; Conner-Greene, 2000), but the logistical issues make it difficult to accomplish due to time constraints. Instead, digitally embedding the assessments into the multimedia learning material, and making those results accessible to the instructor, makes for a more seamless experience for both instructor and student (Guertin, 2007).
Popularity: 8% [?]