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Schema Theory

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Courtney Miller

on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Schema Theory

Schema represents all knowledge one may have about a concept (information is stored as schemata).
--It is a cognitive framework of organizing and perceiving new information acquired through experiences .
("people understand a new experience by activating relevant schemas in their mind")
--Theory is about how new information from experience connects to what you already know .
--As individuals have more experiences, they refine, reshape, correct, and restructure their schemata (As you learn new things your schema of that concept develops further)

Example: Schema for the word "teacher" is different for an adult than a first grader. Schema adjustments are made as adults have more experiences with teachers.
The more we know, the bigger and more complex our schemas become but the easier it is to remember new information related to the schema.
People are more likely to notice things that fit into their schema
Schemata changes moment by moment
Accessibility is how easily a schema comes to mind.
Deep-seated schemata are hard to change.
Schema can be both useful and diminishing (shortcuts in interpreting information vs. causing us to exclude pertinent info to focus only on things that confirm our established ideas - don't change beliefs).
Connections to Literacy
Schema describes the process by which readers combine their own background knowledge with the information in a text to comprehend that text.
Writers omit certain information and rely on the readers to use their general schemata to understand what is being said.

Readers possess schema they bring to the reading of the text and use it to make sense of it.
readers have a difficult time comprehending a text on a subject they are not familiar with. The student who doesn't possess relevant schemata is going to have trouble remembering the information.

Realize that the schemata of each student are distinct from others (usually culture specific).
The role of the Teacher:
Help students make connections and provide them with background information.
Realize that students can remember new information only if they are able to cluster it with their related existing ideas - activate the existing schemata of students
Use visual aids; brainstorm; discuss
Use advance organizers & concept maps
Pre-question before reading
Provide real-life experiences.
When students have no schema for a subject --> help them develop new schema! Do this through innovative, problem-solving and decision-making activities.
Schema Theory

A way of perceiving and adapting to new information

R.C. Anderson
The first to introduce the schema theory into the educational community.
When readers read texts, they use their prior knowledge to help them make sense of the texts.
Reading comprehension is facilitated when readers have relevant and organized schemas (prior knowledge) that they can use to interpret the new/incoming information.
When readers lack relevant schemas, or when they fail to activate their schemas, they understand and recall less of the new material.

Lets say a young child may first develop a schema for a horse. She knows that a horse is large, has hair, four legs and a tail. When the little girl encounters a cow for the first time, she might initially call it a horse. After all, it fits in with her schema for the characteristics of a horse; it is a large animal that has hair, four legs and a tail.
Once she is told that this is a different animal called a cow, she will modify her existing schema for a horse and create a new schema for a cow. The young girl may encounter a miniature horse for the first time and mistakenly identifies it as a dog.
Her parents explain to her that the animal is actually a very small type of horse, so the little girl must this time modify her existing schema for horses. She now realizes that while some horses are very large animals, others can be very small.
Through her new experiences, her existing schemas are modified
and new information is learned.
: putting new information into schemata already possessed (assimilate without making any changes - add)
: reshape and modify information until it works (existing schema is modified - not eliminated)
: Major changes made to schemata (creating new schema)
Frederic Bartlett
Established the idea that individuals’ existing schemata influence how they interpret new information and recall information over time.
He assigned English to read folklore from a very different culture: "The War of the Ghosts" and asked them to recall it several times up to a year later
All of them transformed the details in such a way that it reflected their cultural norms, expectations and existing schemata - reconstructed in the direction of familiar and rational (accepted without question); "something black" --> "a black thing"
When the elements of the story failed to fit into the schemata of the listener, they were either omitted (ghosts) or changed (canoe --> boat, bush-cat --> cat)
*At longer intervals, participants were less accurate
R.C. Anderson
When given ambiguous passages, the schemata individuals used was related to their background and life situation ("pitcher").
Schema gives information/text its importance ("burglar" or "potential homebuyer") - readers recall more that is related to their schema of a "burglar"
Inferential reconstruction hypothesis (when you don't remember something, a new schemata permits you to fill the gaps of important information).
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