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Why Prior Knowledge Wins the Game

Although schools have been prioritizing discrete skills in reading instruction for years, education writer Natalie Wexler says, building rich background knowledge could lead to more successful readers.

April 14, 2023

Are we doing elementary students a disservice by focusing on skills and strategies over background knowledge when we teach reading? Natalie Wexler shares a study that gives evidence that prior knowledge is more important than general skill in reading comprehension, and she makes the case that this is one of the roots of the achievement gap. Read more of Wexler’s ideas about how to build better readers in Andrew Boryga’s interview for Edutopia, “Rethinking How We Teach Reading in Elementary School.”

To see the baseball study referenced in the video, look up Recht and Leslie’s 1988 research paper, “Effect of Prior Knowledge on Good and Poor Readers’ Memory of Text.”

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Filed Under

  • Literacy
  • English Language Learners
  • Research
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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