Prior knowledge is the information and educational context a learner already has before they learn new information. A learner’s understanding of educational material can be improved by taking advantage of their prior knowledge before dealing with the new material. General understanding about the way students learn states that the success of learning is determined by how much the learner already knows about a given topic or related topics.
Prior knowledge refers to the information, no matter how limited, a learner has at the start of learning a new topic. This knowledge will likely have been gathered over time in a variety of ways. If the prior knowledge is correct and consistent with the new information being taught, the effect on learning is positive. However, if prior knowledge conflicts with new information, the effect on new learning can be negative.