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  • Cited by 54
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

21 - Prior Knowledge Principle in Multimedia Learning

Summary

Abstract

This chapter summarizes research and theory concerned with the effects of learner prior knowledge on multimedia learning principles. In many situations, design principles that help low-knowledge learners may not help or even hinder high-knowledge learners. The main theoretical issue associated with the prior knowledge principle concerns the integration in working memory of instructional information with information held in long-term memory. The major implication for instructional design is the need to tailor instructional formats and procedures to changing levels of expertise. Essential future research directions include identifying instructional procedures that are optimal for different levels of expertise and developing viable instruments of cognitive diagnosis of schematic knowledge structures suitable for real-time online evaluation of learner progress.

What Is the Prior Knowledge Principle?

Design principles for multimedia learning environments depend on the prior knowledge of the learner: design principles that help low-knowledge learners may not help or even hinder high-knowledge learners. Many multimedia design recommendations do not explicitly refer to learner knowledge levels, although most of them have only been tested in experiments with learners who had limited experience in the relevant domain. Could the same recommendation be applied to more experienced learners? Experienced or high-knowledge learners are considered learners who have substantial previously acquired knowledge in a specific domain and who are involved in learning relatively new, more advanced information in this domain. The evidence suggests that multimedia design recommendations for such learners should be different, sometimes contrary to recommendations for novice learners.

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