7 Tips to Stimulate the Recall of Prior Learning

In the last blog posting on Getting Back to Basics, we discussed Gagne’s ISD model and focused on the second event, Informing the Learner of the Learning Objectives. This blog will focus on the third event, Stimulating Recall of Prior Learning.

Gagne’s 9 events are:


This event reminds the learner of what they already may know related to the topic in the course and helps your learners make the connection with what they currently know and what they may not know. According to learning theory, learners gain new knowledge when they can connect something they already know with something new. To help you incorporate this event in your e-learning courses, think about the following questions:

Quick Action: Brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  1. Are there pre-requisites to the course? If so, what are the expectations after completing those courses?
  2. What is the experience level of your learners?
  3. Who are your learners?
  4. How did your learners get to their experience level?
  5. What do your learners need to be able to do prior to taking the course?

After brainstorming the answers to the questions, list ways you will incorporate your learners’ prior knowledge within the course content. The following are suggestions for how to do this.

1. Write feedback in scenarios that probes learners to think about what they should already know to answer correctly and move forward.

2.  Create a scenario describing the learners’ expected knowledge prior to taking the course.

3.  Develop review activities.

4.  Write into the content what your learners already know while presenting the new content.

5. Start the course with a relevant problem.

6. Use an analogy or a story that links the prior knowledge with the new.

7. Use advanced organizers to provide a high level view of key ideas to be presented in the lesson.

Try one of these examples in your next e-learning course and let us know how it worked for you, or share with TLS Learning how you stimulate recall to prior learning in your courses.