Pre-school teachers’ perceptions of children’s prior knowledge and its practice in teaching and learning: a comparative case study of 2 pre-schools in Dar es salaam

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fortidas Bakuza

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Geoff Tennant


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Research has pointed out the importance of connections between new learning and children’s existing experiences, whereby through these connections children are better able to relate to concepts and enhance deeper, meaningful and lasting learning outcomes. It has also been shown that teachers’ are key facilitators in the school domain with regard to both practices and events that ultimately has an impact on students learning. In line with these propositions this study investigated pre-school teacher’s perceptions of children’s prior knowledge and its practice in Teaching and learning which compared a public and private pre- school in urban Dar es Salaam. It aimed to discover what preschool teacher’s views and beliefs are in regards to children’s prior knowledge and how their existing experiences are used in everyday teaching and learning. This study employed a comparative case study design in order to capture detailed information from two different contexts that teachers teach in Dar es Salaam. Data was mainly collected through semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations and document review. Findings revealed that teachers’ in public school view and practice prior knowledge more positively than teachers’ in private school despite their differences in programs and contexts. For Pre-school Teachers in public school prior knowledge was believed to be important aspect in learning and aligned with their classroom practice while for Teacher’s in private school prior knowledge was not easily understood and needed further elaboration. In addition, teachers’ in private school perceived prior and knowledge as important in attaining meaningful learning outcomes, however the same did not reflect in their classroom practice. The implication and recommendations of the study mainly described the importance of community of practice, teachers’ continuous professional development and creating relevant and equal programs for both public and private schools.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library