Connect Knowledge

"The more meaningful and appropriate connections students make between what they know and what they are learning, the more permanently they will anchor new information in long-term memory and the easier it will be for them to access that information when it's needed" (Angelo, 1993, p. 5).

Examples of Sakai use

  1. Post examples of how covered material relates to prior knowledge.
  2. Design quizzes that tie prior knowledge to current knowledge.
  3. Provide links to resources dealing with prior knowledge.
  4. Include links to related sites or video clips related to the new material.
  5. Utilize a variety of materials (audio clips, video files, images, animations, etc.) to help students relate new material to their past experience. Check with the textbook publisher for materials designed for Sakai.
  6. Develop a visual map for each course module and show how topics relate to one another.
  7. Have students “paraphrase part of a lesson for a specific audience and purpose,” an assessment technique Cross and Angelo (1993) called “Directed Paraphrasing” (pp. 213-235). They can post this in Forums for all students to review and comment.

General best practices of connecting knowledge from current educational models

  1. Plan presentations of materials carefully. "Habits, preconceptions, and misconceptions can be formidable barriers to new learning because this prior learning is usually 90 percent hidden from view" (Angelo, 1993, p. 5).
  2. Create opportunities for students to integrate material learned in the current course with knowledge gained from previous courses (Lubawy, 2003, p. 2).
  3. "Provide many and varied examples, illustrations/descriptions, drawings, images, metaphors, and analogies. But ask students to provide them, as well, then give the students feedback on their usefulness and appropriateness. For instance, two simple ways to help students make connections, and to assess the connections they are making, are to ask them to compose a metaphor ('Learning is _________') or to complete an analogy ('Teaching is to learning as ______ is to _______')" (p. 5).
  4. "Before you present new material, find out what students already believe and know and what they can do about it" (p. 5). Use a quick diagnostic "probe" or "pre-test". It will help you determine misconceptions or whether the students are already familiar with the material. 
  5. Help students understand their thoughts and factors that influence how they think. "Teach students multiple learning strategies that promote metacognition by providing modeling, guided practice and application" (Rolheiser & Fullan, 2002, p. 3).
  6. Bring different perspectives to each idea.
  7. Give students opportunities to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. "Different students bring different talents and styles. Brilliant students in a seminar may not excel in a lab or studio, students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory" (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996, 5).
  8. Consider different learning styles (visual, aural, kinesthetic, etc).
  9. Provide resources for different methods of learning through powerful visuals and well-organized print; through direct, vicarious and virtual experiences; and through tasks requiring analysis, synthesis and evaluation, with applications to real-life situations. Encourage student self-reflection and self-evaluation. Allow students to drive collaboration and group problem solving.
  10. Create a common resources site with documents from basic courses (knowledge base).
  11. Have students check their facts.