Prior knowledge, confidence and understanding in interactive tutorials and simulations


  • Jason Lodge
  • Gregor Kennedy



prior knowledge, confidence, simulations


The balance between confidence and understanding can be difficult for students to manage, particularly in digital learning environments where they start with different levels of prior knowledge. The level of prior knowledge and perception of how well understood this prior knowledge is will drive the level of engagement and integration of new knowledge as students are exposed to it. Exploring the relationship between these factors is therefore important for the design of digital learning environments. In this paper we describe two studies examining the levels of confidence and understanding reported by students completing interactive and non-interactive exercises in a digital learning environment. The reported levels of confidence and understanding are then contrasted against pre- and post-test performance and self-reports of the experience completed at the conclusion of the session. The results suggest that students’ prior knowledge influences their confidence and perceived difficulty of the material but does not necessarily influence performance.