Difference Between Previous Knowledge, Previous Lesson and Background Knowledge

In this article, we’ll be looking at the difference between previous knowledge, previous lessons, and background knowledge in a lesson plan or note. In the first subheading of this article, we talked about the meaning of “previous knowledge” and what it means to a lesson planner, as well as made a comparison between “previous knowledge” and “previous lessons.” The second and third subheadings of this article are mainly focused on the meaning of “previous lesson” and “background knowledge,” respectively.

It’s necessary for a teacher, school owner, or student teacher to be able to distinguish the differences between previous knowledge, previous lessons, and background knowledge. Educators should be able to know that all these three terms are not the same and do not mean the same thing.

As stated earlier, we’ll first look at what “previous knowledge” actually means in a lesson plan.

What is Previous Knowledge in Lesson Plan?

Previous knowledge in a lesson plan refers to the information or skills that a student already possesses before learning something new. It may include both formal education and informal experiences and can include a wide range of topics.

Previous knowledge is what students already know about the surrounding world from academic instruction and personal life experiences. It helps learners make sense of new information by comparing it to what they already know and fitting it in.

Previous knowledge can sometimes be either accurate or inaccurate, but regardless, it influences learners’ beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. It can help or hinder comprehension, but it plays a huge role in developing fluency and a pupil’s engagement in the classroom.

In a lesson plan, previous knowledge is used to assess the learners’ current understanding of the subject matter and identify any misconceptions or gaps in their understanding. This information is then used by the teacher to tailor the lesson to the students’ needs and ensure that the lesson being presented is appropriate for their level of understanding.

However, previous knowledge refers to the knowledge a student has regarding a particular topic based on their previous experiences or learning activities acquired either in the classroom or elsewhere. For example, a graduate student who was training in midwifery has prior knowledge of that practice. And that practitioner has more prior knowledge in that field than a student who has never been trained in midwifery.

Educators are interested in the concept of Previous Knowledge because research has found that it helps facilitate subsequent learning. Students can relate or connect new knowledge to prerequisites as a way to understand new concepts. This is specifically true when the new information is similar to the previous knowledge in some way.

In summary, Previous Knowledge is the knowledge the student has before the commencement of a new lesson. Such knowledge could be gained either through the previous lesson or from what they already know beyond the four walls of the classroom.

As an important part of the lesson plan, Previous Knowledge refers to prior knowledge gained by the learners within or outside the class that will help the learners understand the lesson to be presented.

On the other hand, Background Knowledge is the topic or knowledge gained in the last or previous lessons.

What is Previous Lesson in Lesson Plan

Previous Lesson is simply the previous content that was taught to the student before introducing a new content or topic.

Some people wrongly believe that “Previous Lesson is the topic or knowledge learners gained in the last lesson.” Some also had the view that “previous lesson” specifically refers to the information or skills that were covered in the immediately preceding class or session. These last two definitions of “previous lesson” are totally incorrect and invalid. Previous Lesson is just the last lesson taught by the teacher. Previous lesson is simply the previous topic that was taught to the student before introducing a new lesson.

Nevertheless, in a lesson plan, it is important to consider how previous knowledge and previous lessons can be used to create a cohesive and progressive learning experience for students. This can be achieved by incorporating review and reinforcement activities, making connections to real-world examples, and providing opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills in new contexts.

Another important aspect is using formative assessments to check students’ understanding and adjust the lesson plan accordingly. By understanding students’ previous knowledge and the previous lesson, teachers can identify and address misconceptions, gaps in understanding, and areas where the pupils may need additional support.

However, considering previous knowledge and previous lessons in a lesson plan can help ensure that students are able to build on their existing knowledge, make connections between new and old material, and progress towards mastering the desired learning objectives.

What is Background Knowledge In Lesson Plan

Background knowledge is a term that is often used in the field of education and primarily refers to information or experiences that students have or have had that influence their learning and memory abilities in various contexts.

In some cases, people will refer to “previous knowledge” and “background knowledge” as being synonymous. What students learn before a lesson is their “background” on that subject. However, other sources will state that Previous Knowledge is what students already know and Background Knowledge is the historical information provided by a teacher on a topic.

Background Knowledge is the information that a student does not have but gains through teaching or instruction.

Teachers can help students build their background knowledge. Teachers can give students various types of learning activities, such as games, charts, worksheets, instructional videos, or other real-life objects. Teachers can also help students build their background knowledge by sharing their experiences with them as a way to relate to them. Other methods for building background knowledge among English language learners could include visiting museums, attending festivals, and discussing pictures and other things they could easily comprehend.

Background knowledge is supplemental information provided by you, the teacher, to create a basic understanding of a concept to facilitate learners’ comprehension later.

Previous Knowledge, Previous Lesson and Background Knowledge may sound very similar, but they don’t mean the same thing.


Study.com | study.com/learn/lesson/background-prior-knowledge-reading-comprehension-teaching-strategy-benefits.html. Accessed 14 Jan. 2023.

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