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Schemas

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Schemas are mental plans that are abstract and function as guidelines for action, as a structure for information and a framework for solving problems.

HISTORY OF SCHEMA THEORY Frederic Bartlett (1932) first introduced the concept of the schema while working on constructive memory. He considered schemas a part of top-down processing. According to psybox.com (2002), Bartlett considered schemas to be "maps or structures of knowledge stored in the long-term memory." Although there may be some debate over the origin of the concept of the schema, some suggest that Piaget first introduced it in 1926, the fact remains that Piaget believed humans develop through a series of qualitative stages built upon common knowledge he called schemas. In other words, a schema is a picture of what we know about life at a particular point in time. As a child develops, he tends to interprets experiences based on what he already knows; what his schema tells him. Piaget referred to this process of making the world fit into our schema as assimilation. If the experience does not fit into our model of knowledge, we begin to modify our schema. Piaget referred to this as accommodation. It was from these teachings of schemas that Richard C. Anderson, a prominent educational psychologist, developed the "schema theory of learning." Anderson 's learning theory describes schemas as knowledge that has been carefully organized into an elaborate network of abstract concepts by which we understand life and the world in which we live. These abstract concepts can only be interpreted and understood after a foundation of proven, relevant information has been established through past experiences. According to Anderson 's schema theory, our schema is in a constant state of change as we encounter new experiences and new information that shapes our schema. As we develop, we learn to broaden the boundaries of our schema to include more variables building on the foundation of what we already know. In 1990, a second-generation schema theory was introduced called "Cognitive Flexibility Theory." "By cognitive flexibility, we mean the ability to spontaneously restructure one 's knowledge, in many ways, in adaptive response to radically changing situational demands...This is a function of both the way knowledge is represented (e.g., along multiple rather single conceptual dimensions) and the processes that operate on those mental representations (e.g., processes of schema assembly rather than intact schema retrieval)." DESCRIBE THE INFLUENCE OF SCHEMAS ON MEMORY AND EXPLAIN HOW THEY MAY INFLUENCE THOUGHT Schemas can be said to be the heat of understanding information processing and learning. Two processes link schemas and learning first. First, preexisting schemas influence what is learnt; second, learning also involves the development of schemas. The schemas that people already hold affect learning because they affect categorization, perception and retention (Taylor & Crocker 1981). Humans try to make sense of their world. When they encourage a stimulus in their environment, they search their minds for what they believe is the appropriate schema to characterize or match the stimulus. The schema that is selected then structures how the stimulus will be interpreted. For example, imagine the differences in what we would notice at a friend’s apartment if we visited it with the intent of subletting it instead of simply attending a party there? Schemas direct attention to schema – relevant aspects of the stimulus. Schema – irrelevant aspect tend to be ignored (Hasting 1981). Schemas affect memory; it is fairly east to remember – consistent information (Taylor & Crocker). New instance that relate to preexisting schema are easily integrated into that schema and learned. Learning then, is the linkage of new information to preexisting schemas. Learning new information may alter a schema. As people gain more experience and learn more, their schemas about the domain become more elaborate. It is possible to learn schema – inconsistent information. Friske & Taylor (1991) explain that memory for schema inconsistent information can be a result of very thoughtful process, where people attempt to make sense of the inconsistencies; so they try to think of explanations for the inconsistencies and link those explanations to preexisting schemes. Schematic processing may also be automatic, that is the schema that is used to evaluate and learn any new information may be cued or primed by the stimulus itself. The characterization of the stimulus can be cued by aspect of the stimulus itself. For example, imagine a student who has a research paper due at the end of the semester about the effects of alcohol advertisement on underage drinking. When reading a sport illustrated purely for recreation the student comes across an article about the connection between alcohol advertising and sports promotion. The story most likely will cue to the student to use an “a research paper.” Schema to read that story because it seemed relevant to an important task. Once a schema is cued, it operates similarly to those schemas that are selected consciously. Schematic mental processing and learning are based on the schema that is at top of mind. Schemas develop through experience, the more experience that we have with a domain, the more developed the schema about that domain becomes. Learning something involves creating a new schema. Learning on a new domain involves searching ones mind to find analogies of similar examples – a search or schematic link. Schemas develop with experience, so as we pay attention, categorize new information and attach it to developing schemas we can say that we are learning more about that domain. Learning then is application of schematic processing. There are three approaches to conceptualize learning; one, Controlled schematic processing – is a top down mental process. People pay attention to and notice aspects of the environment that are consistent with schemas that they have selected. Second, the Structure approach – holds that in WM prior knowledge is selected from LTM for comparison and to aid pattern recognition. Third, Process approach – recognizes that the individuals goal direct mental ability (Wryer & Scrull 1986). All three models recognize that learning result of a top-down or conceptually driven mental activity. That is, the mental activity is stimulated by what we perceive and how we mentally react to stimuli in our environment. Schemas influence social thought by allowing us to form impressions. They affect how we perceive, notice, and also interpret information. Schemata can influence and hamper the uptake of new information (proactive interference), such as when existing stereotypes, giving rise to limited or biased discourses and expectations (prejudices), may lead an individual to ‘see’ or ‘remember’ something that has not happened because it is more believable in terms of his/her schema. For example, if a well dressed businessman pulls a knife on a vagrant, the schemata of onlookers may (and often d) lead them to ‘remember’ the vagrant pulling the knife. Such distortions of memory have been demonstrated. Also people who come from different geographic locations may interpret a situation in a way while others, based on prior experience, may think it to be something totally different.

REFERENCES
Houghtin Mifflin Company (2000). Dictionary of the English Language, [Rev. 4th ed.] [Electronic version]. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=schema
Mayer, Richard E. (2003). Learning And Instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Psybox Ltd (2002). Schema [Electronic version]. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.psybox.com/web_dictionary/schema1.htm
Reber, A. S., & Reber, E. (2001). The Penguin Dictionary Of Psychology [3rd ed.]. London: Penguin Books Ltd., England. Untitled. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/Classes/31015/Powerpoint%201%20with%206%20per%20page.pdf
WordNet 2.0 (2003). WorldNet 2.0 [Electronic version]. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=schema
Paulukonis, A. (2000). The Use of Schemas By Students Taking Their First Online Course. Teaching with Technology Today Newsletter, 5, 5, Retrieved February 3, 2007 from http://www.uwsa.edu/ttt/paulukon.htm.
Robb, L. (2000). Teaching Reading in Middle School: A Strategic Approach to Teaching Reading that Improves Comprehension and Thinking. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.
LigualLinks Library 4.0 (1999). Retrieved February 2, 2007, from http://www.sil.org/lingualinks/literacy/ImplementALiteracyProgram/SchemaTheoryOfLearning.htm
Spiro, R. J., Feltovich, P. J., Jacobson, M. J., & Coulson, R. L. (1992). Cognitive Flexibility, Constructivism, and Hypertext: Random Access Instruction for Advanced Knowledge Acquisition in Ill-Structured Domains. In T. M. Duffy & D. H. Jonassen (Eds.), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation (pp. 57-75). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Spiro, R.J. & Jehng, J. (1990). Cognitive Flexibility and Hypertext: Theory and Technology For The Non-Linear and Multidimensional Traversal of Complex Subject Matter. D. Nix & R. Spiro (eds.), Cognition, Education, and Multimedia. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Retrieved from http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Schemas"

References: Houghtin Mifflin Company (2000). Dictionary of the English Language, [Rev. 4th ed.] [Electronic version]. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=schema Mayer, Richard E Psybox Ltd (2002). Schema [Electronic version]. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.psybox.com/web_dictionary/schema1.htm Reber, A Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/Classes/31015/Powerpoint%201%20with%206%20per%20page.pdf WordNet 2.0 (2003) Paulukonis, A. (2000). The Use of Schemas By Students Taking Their First Online Course. Teaching with Technology Today Newsletter, 5, 5, Retrieved February 3, 2007 from http://www.uwsa.edu/ttt/paulukon.htm. Robb, L. (2000). Teaching Reading in Middle School: A Strategic Approach to Teaching Reading that Improves Comprehension and Thinking. New York: Scholastic Professional Books. LigualLinks Library 4.0 (1999). Retrieved February 2, 2007, from http://www.sil.org/lingualinks/literacy/ImplementALiteracyProgram/SchemaTheoryOfLearning.htm Spiro, R

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