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Based on:" Schemata: The Building Blocks of Cognition" by David E.


The Schema Theory

Schema - singular Schemata – plural

What is schema?

Schema is a unit of knowledge. According to the schema theory all knowledge is packed in units and stored in memory.

These units, schemata, also contain information about how the knowledge is to be used.

The knowledge stored in our schemata is about all concepts, for example Knowledge about - objects - situations - events and sequence of events - actions and sequence of actions

Schema can help us make inferences about unobserved aspects of a situation. The central function of schemata is in the construction of an interpretation of an event, object, or situation. It's like a private (unarticulated) theory about the nature of event, object or situation we face.

4. Schemata can embed. 6.The total set of schemata we have available for interpreting our world constitutes our private theory of the reality. Schemata represent knowledge rather than definition. each subschema also consists of its subschemata. one within another. 2. Schemata are active processes. . Such schemata are called primitives Major Features of Schemata 1. There is also a set of schemata that are elementary in the sense that they do not consist of further breakdown. and so on. Each and every schema consists of sub schemata. Schemata have variables. Schemata are recognition devices whose processing is aimed at the evaluation of their goodness of fit to the data being processed. Schemata represent knowledge at all levels of abstraction. 3. 5. our internal model of the situation we face. in other words.

top-down activation . If there is enough evidence against the schema. See example on p. guessing) in order to check if there is positive evidence for existence of other constituents of the concept.The Control Structure of Schemata There are many schemata in our memory.43 of the article. meaning it goes from parts to whole. the interpretation of that schema is taken as the correct interpretation.g. . Two basic sources of activation for schemata are: 1. There is some kind of control that initiates activation of those schemata that are most likely to fit the situation. The higher level schemata will then activate conceptually driven processing (from whole to parts –e. or driven processing. not all of them are checked and evaluated when we face a situation. processing of it stops and there is a search for a more promising one.conceptually driven processing. When an event occurs it automatically activates low-level schemata in the way the data driven processing works. goes from whole to parts 2. goes from part to whole. 3. schema – directed processing goes both ways. Whenever enough evidence is gained in favor of the schema then. which will activate higher level schemata of that same concept. object. bottom-up activation .

Final identification happens after both processes are ended. . (B) Schemata and understanding Discourse Clues from the story activate certain schemata according to possible interpretations. Clues given in the text (by the author) are insufficient. the face) we receive through our senses activates schemata. A person starts interpreting information received together with the process of checking if that interpretation is correct – consistency can be found with other elements. the units open up based on "suggestions" only.g.The Major Functions of Schemata (A) Schemata and Perceiving (Understanding) Information (can be parts of a whole e. a nose or the whole itself e. This is because we have schemata corresponding to words. The reader doesn't have the appropriate schemata. Implications to reading: string of characters (letters) forming a word is more easily understood than a string of letters that doesn't form a meaningful word. These interpretations are evaluated later as reading goes on – sentence by sentence until finely a consistent interpretation is discovered.g. Identification of the whole is done through identifying its parts while identifying the parts will be done through the context. Failure in understanding a text: 1. 2. the ability to guess other letters in a word just from evidence of one letter we receive.

Patterned generation – creating new schema by copying an old one with some changes.Upgrading existing information b.Changing variable constrains 3) Creation of new schemata: a. It is actually accumulation of knowledge. (D) Schemata and Learning When learning we actually create / develop new schemata.Replacing a certain part of a schema – generalization c. In comprehension we don't just wait for some information to "go by" we actively seek for information we are interested in. Same in remembering. . 2) Tuning : Modification of existing schemata a. (C) Schemata and Remembering Remembering like comprehension is goal directed.3. we need some information. Reader might misunderstand the author and come up with a different understanding. As we experience the world we store information that will be used later during retrieval to reconstruct an interpretation of the original experience. as it is not in front of us we start "a search". Modes of learning possible in a schema-based system: 1) Fact learning: The ability to retrieve stored information. This way of learning has the least effect on the operation of the system. learning by analogy.

(E) Schemata and Solving Problems Solving problems is based on reasoning processes which are tied to schemata. .b.a new meaningful concept is formed which will generate a new schemata. that is .Schema induction – If a certain configuration of the schema occurs again and again. Once we can relate the problem to a set of existing schemata we can find the solution.