WW-When knowledge builds, great minds grow

The Science of Reading: What is Prior Knowledge and Why is it Important?


Teachers need to engage students’ prior knowledge and intentionally build new knowledge within ELA instruction. How? By selecting coherent, content-rich texts and linking ELA skills with key topics in science, math, art, and more to set students up for literacy success.

In this research brief, you will

  • learn what research studies indicate about the effect of background knowledge on students’ reading comprehension, memory, fluency, and reading speed,
  • uncover two widely held misconceptions about the importance of knowledge building in the ELA classroom, and
  • explore three ways you can shift your practice right now toward more effective knowledge building, with the goal of cultivating in students a broad and deep base of content knowledge that will set them up for literacy success.

Learn how you can ensure knowledge building continues outside of the classroom by also reading What Is The Relationship Between Learning And Knowledge?