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2015 ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence

2015 ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence

June 2628, 2015
Nashville, Tenn.

Invest in the power of great instruction and learn how to leverage it in classrooms and school districts.



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Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement

by Robert J. Marzano

Table of Contents

Chapter 2. Six Principles for Building an Indirect Approach

This book is about schools making a profound difference in the academic background knowledge of students by using an indirect approach as defined in Chapter 1. This chapter attempts to provide a reasonably comprehensive review, in nontechnical terms, of the research and theory supporting my recommendations. Six principles form the basis of those recommendations: (1) background knowledge is stored in bimodal packets; (2) the process of storing experiences in permanent memory can be enhanced; (3) background knowledge is multidimensional and its value is contextual; (4) even surface-level background knowledge is useful; (5) background knowledge manifests itself as vocabulary knowledge; and (6) virtual experiences can enhance background knowledge.

Background Knowledge Is Stored in Bimodal Packets

One of the defining features of background knowledge is that it is stored in what can be thought of as “packets” of information. Anderson (1995) refers to these packets as “memory records.” Insight into the nature of these packets or records provides clear guidance for indirect approaches to enhancing academic background knowledge.


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