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Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement

Research on What Works in Schools Robert J. Marzano

Ashley Osborne

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement

(W)hoooooo Needs More Information on Building Background Knowledge in the Classroom?

Ashley Osborne

Cejae Rawls

Erica Shepard

Ashley Taylor

You do... All teachers need to build background knowledge to increase student achievement.
4, 096 terms should be
taught from
K-10th grade
Students record all subject terms in one academic notebook
Surface level understanding of terms
Ex. Fast mapping
Teach essential terms, not supplementary
Local schools should decide their essential terms
Schools also must limit the number of subject areas for which vocabulary will be taught.
Vocabulary Word - Perpetual= never ending or changing
Category - Character from Twilight movie
Comparison - Perpetual is like Edward Cullen because he never ages as a vampire.
Scattergories Vocabulary Activity
The point is, by having to find the connection
between their vocabulary word and
a silly category,
students not only have to know
what that word means, but they have to use a
little creativity
and cognitive thinking to
link it to the category.
Vocabulary Sentence Connection/Comparison:
__________________ (vocab. word) is/are like ________________ (category) because ____________________.
Vocabulary Words:
gene (Science)
odd (Math)
conclusion (English)
alliance (General History)
karma (World History)
colonization (Geography)
education (Civics)
consumer (Economics)
skin (Health)
pitch (Music)
pixel (Technology)
1. Words are basis of background knowledge critical
to learning
2. Words are learned gradually over time.
3. Schools should ensure that background knowledge
is adequately developed in students.
Philosophy of Determining
Vocabulary Terms
1. A focus on descriptions as opposed to definitions
2. Use of linguistic and nonlinguistic representations
3. An emphasis on multiple exposures
4. Integration of wide reading an direct instruction
5. An emphasis on student interaction regarding key terms.
SSR what not to do
Six Steps to Effective
Vocabulary Instruction
Step 1: Teacher Provides a Description, Explanation, or Example of the New Term
Step 2: Students Restate the Explanation of the New Term in Their Own words:
Stahl (1999) states that the goal of vocabulary learning is to have students store the meanings of the words in their long-term memory. Students must process information actively and repeatedly for this to occur.
Term: Discovery
Ex: Thomas Edison & Christopher Columbus
In Step 2, students are asked to restate in their own words what the teacher has presented.
Students should not simply copy the teacher’s explanation of the word.
Step 3: Students Create a Nonlinguistic Representation of the Term
It is important that students represent information
nonlinguistically such as through: pictures, graphic organizers, pictographs, etc.

For vocabulary development, this step is best done immediately after students have generated their own linguistic despcription of the term.
Someone invented the snuggie after apparently discovering that it was too inconvenient to have to move your hands out from under a blanket in order to use your hands only to have to turn right back around and put them back under the blanket when you are cold. :)
Example of nonlinguistic representation
Step 4: Students Periodically Do Activities That Help Them
Add to Their Knowledge of Vocabulary Terms.
Some of these activities include:
Comparing terms
Classifying terms
Generating metaphors using terms
Generating analogies using terms
Using understanding of roots and affixes to deepen knowledge of terms:
Ex: Having students add a prefix to a vocabulary word, such as 're' to discovery and explaining what this means.
Step 5: Periodically Students Are Asked to Discuss the Terms with One Another
To stimulate discussion, the teacher might pose questions each group will address. These questions might simply direct students to terms they find interesting, or they might ask student to identify issues and questions they have about specific terms.
Ex: What is your favorite vocabulary
term we have learned so far? Please stand up and explain why.
Step 6: Periodically Students Are Involved in Games that Allow Them to Play with the Terms
Ex: Pictionary
and Scattegories
You can enhance the academic background knowledge of your students through
Sustained Silent Reading
An effective SSR program should not allow this...
Let's start out with a non-example!
I want you to increase achievement in our schools.
access to reading materials
reading materials that are appealing to each student
an environment conducive to reading
student encouragement
staff training on program
follow-up activities for students to interact with text
systematic and frequent time to read
An effective SSR program should include:
Pilgreen (2000)
Research shows that implementing SSR over an extended period of time has significant impact on student comprehension.
However, the program must be used for more than a year.
When implemented for:
0-7 Months:
7 Months - 1 Year:
Over 1 Year:
No Significant Impact
No Significant Impact
Effect Size of .87
20 - 30 min is recommended
For Accommodating Main Principles of SSR
The Five Step Process
1. Students Identify Topics of Interest to Them
Reading material for each individual should be tailored to his or her interests and reading level
Students complete I-Search, not research
2. Students Identify Reading Material
"Book Flooding"
Graphic Organizers
3. Students are Provided Uninterrupted Time to Read
4. Students Write About or Represent the Information in Their Notebooks
20 - 30 min
At least Twice per Week
More Time is Ideal
Structured Response Questions
How would you use this information?
How important is the information to you?
What do you find most interesting about the information? Why?
Free Responses
open response
"expressive" writing
5. Students Interact with the Information
Teacher acts as facilitator
Structure Group Activities Take Place
Groups Must Be Organized Effectively
Direct Vocabulary Instruction
You can build background knowledge and enhance student achievement through...
Impact of Direct Vocabulary Instruction
Based on Data in Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986
Characteristics of Effective Direct Vocabulary Instruction
Descriptions as opposed to definitions
Use both linguistic and nonlinguistic representations
Gradually shape meanings of words
Teach and use word parts
Use different types of instruction for different words
Students should interact about words that they are
Use Games!
Focus on terms relating to academic subjects
Where do we start?

Background Knowledge:
what a person already knows about a topic

What students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn
new information relative to the content
Some Facts:
- Numerous studies confirm the relationship between background knowledge and achievement

- Average correlation between a person’s background knowledge of a given topic and the extent to which that person learns new information on that topic is .66

- Academic background knowledge impacts more than just “school learning”….studies have shown a relationship to occupation and status in life

- Significant relationship between knowledge of academic information and type of occupation and overall income (Hofstetter and Hofstetter, 1997)
Yearly income for person that did not graduate high school is $10,838; Poverty line is $9,359

- Poverty has a profound impact on academic achievement
In the U.S. 22.7 percent of African Americans and 21.4 Hispanics live below the poverty line as compared to 9.9 Whites
How do we acquire knowledge?
Interaction of 2 Factors:

1.Our ability to process and store information (fluid intelligence)

2.The number and frequency of our academically oriented experiences
Fluid Intelligence….Hmm?
Here’s an example….
2 students visit a museum and see exactly the same exhibits

Student 1 has a high fluid intelligence and Student 2 has a low fluid intelligence

Student 1 will retain most of the experience in permanent memory (translated into academic background knowledge) while Student 2 has and will not
Summary of Techniques for Building
Background Knowledge
Number of experiences….

Student 1 goes to the museum weekly and Student 2 goes monthly

Student 1 has 4 times the opportunities to generate academic background knowledge

Crystalized Intelligence (Learned Intelligence)....

Has a stronger correlation to success in school

Knowledge is more highly associated with learned abilities as compared to fluid abilities
Always remember that schools CAN make a difference!
How can school make a difference?
1. Direct approaches to enhance academic background knowledge

2. Indirect approaches to enhance academic background knowledge
2 Types of Direct Approaches:
1. Approach that increases the variety and depth of out-of-class experiences (such as field trips to museums or art galleries)

2. Help students establish mentoring relationships with members of the community (one to one relationship between caring adult and a youth who can benefit from the support)
The direct approach is a way to development background knowledge, however a more viable solution is to focus on the Indirect approach.
6 Principles for Building Background Knowledge with an Indirect Approach
1.Background knowledge is stored in bimodal packets
2.Process of storing experiences in permanent memory can be enhanced
3.Background knowledge is multidimensional
4.Even surface-level background knowledge is useful
5.Background knowledge manifests itself as vocabulary knowledge
6.Virtual experiences can enhance background knowledge
1. Background knowledge is stored in bimodal packets
•Packets are memory records
•Memories storied as propositions (abstract statements of what occurred)
•Also known as deep structure of understanding
•Deep structure translated into surface level language (when we speak our experiences)
•Packets are initially linguistic descriptions
•This is a switch from episodic memory (specific events) to semantic memory (general terms)
•Memory packets have both linguistic and nonlinguistic form (packets are bimodal)
•Dual Coding Theory- retain some of the concrete original qualities of the external experiences in which they were created
2. The Process of Storing Experiences in Permanent Memory Can Be Enhanced:

Sensory Memory (temporary storage from senses)
•Permanent Memory (all we know is stored here, our background knowledge)
•Working Memory (can receive data from both other types of memory and it is held briefly)
•3 things must occur in order for effective processing of memory take place (for information to be moved to permanent memory)
Information is processed multiple times
Detail is added
Associations are made
3. Background Knowledge is Multidimensional and its Value is Contextual:
•To develop background knowledge that will enhance success in specific academic subjects the information critical must be the target of the instruction.

•Keep in mind that all students have background knowledge…even though not all of them have academic background knowledge to do well in school. Other background knowledge is highly valuable as well.
4. Even Surface-Level Background Knowledge is Useful:
•Background knowledge exists at different levels
•Seeking to enhance academic background knowledge goal should not be deep understanding
•Goal should be to develop a surface level understanding of information
5. Background Knowledge Manifests itself as Vocabulary Knowledge:
•Vocabulary is synonymous with teaching background knowledge
•Packets of information that make up background knowledge all have labels
•In turn teaching background knowledge about a specific topic such as whales, killer whales can be approached from a vocabulary perspective
6. Virtual Experiences can Enhance Background Knowledge
•3 forms of virtual experience:
Language interaction
Educational Television
•Watching a movie on a topic has the same effects as listing to a lecture on the same topic
Full transcript