Roschelle, J. (1995). Learning in interactive environments: Prior knowledge and new experience. In J. H. Falk & L. D. Dierking (Eds.), Public institutions for personal learning: Establishing a research agenda (pp. 37-51). Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.
This article summarizes research on the roles of prior knowledge in learning. Educators often focus on the ideas that they want their audience to have. But research has shown that a learner’s prior knowledge often confounds an educator’s best efforts to deliver ideas accurately. A large body of findings shows that learning proceeds primarily from prior knowledge, and only secondarily from the presented materials. Prior knowledge can be at odds with the presented material, and consequently, learners will distort presented material. Neglect of prior knowledge can result in the audience learning something opposed to the educator’s intentions, no matter how well those intentions are executed in an exhibit, book, or lecture.