What Is Schema Theory In Education?


What Is Schema Theory In Education
What is Schema Theory? – As we saw above, schema theory describes how people group together associated memories. These groups are known as schemata. Much like the way you put all your holiday photos into one album or file all your bank statements into the same folder, schemata contain similar things (as we saw from my “Nan schema” image above).

Fo instance, if you think of the word “car”, images and words will quickly come to the forefront of your mind, these will probably contain thins like: wheels, seats, road, journeys, insurance, steering wheel etc. You “car schema” allowed you to quickly retrieve all things to do with cars. It is this retrieval that makes Schema theory hugely important in education,

If students can associate new ideas with schema they already have, the likelihood of them remembering them is much higher.
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What is schema theory?

Definition: Schema theory is a branch of cognitive science concerned with how the brain structures knowledge. A schema is an organized unit of knowledge for a subject or event. It is based on past experience and is accessed to guide current understanding or action.
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How do you use schema theory in the classroom?

A schema is a general idea about something. Its plural form is schemata. Schemata can help students learn. In order to use schemata in education, teachers should activate prior knowledge, link new information to old information and link different schemata to each other.
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What is a schema in education?

What Is Schema Theory In Education Today’s guest post is written by Julie Stern, an author and consultant who focuses on conceptual understanding. Have you ever been frustrated by how quickly students seem to forget what you’ve taught them? Or by their struggles to use what they’ve learned in one context in a new, but related context? When we intentionally help students build schema, we can solve both problems.

  • Schema is a mental structure to help us understand how things work.
  • It has to do with how we organize knowledge.
  • As we take in new information, we connect it to other things we know, believe, or have experienced.
  • And those connections form a sort of structure in the brain.
  • Consider the following quotes from education researchers: “The reason experts remember more is that what novices see as separate pieces of information, experts see as organized sets of ideas.” Donovan & Bransford, 2005 “It turns out that people who do well in math are those that make connections and see math as a connected subject.” Jo Boaler, 2014 “Cognitive scientists think of deep learning—or what you might call ‘learning for understanding’—as the ability to organize discrete pieces of knowledge into a larger schema of understanding.” Meta & Fine, 2019 If a hallmark of expertise is organized thinking, how do we help students to see the structure of the subject we are teaching? Enter the noble index card.

This low-tech tool has the power to revolutionize your teaching practice. Post-it notes work, too. They allow students to physically build and manipulate schema as they learn. Let me show you. First, we start with individual concepts, which are the building blocks of schema.

  1. Concepts are words we use to organize and categorize our world.
  2. When we look at our curriculum standards or learning outcomes, the nouns are usually the concepts.
  3. Examples include: story patterns, character, fraction, whole number, living things, organelle, leadership, and sovereignty.
  4. We can start with examples of concepts that students already know.

For instance, we can use ocean, desert, and rain forest as examples of the concept of habitat. Or we can put groups of different concepts in front of students and ask them to try to determine the features that differ between the groups. One middle school science teacher put a few simple circuits on one table and a few parallel circuits on another table.

Students tinkered with the circuits on each table and discussed what differences they noticed between the two groups. Once students acquire initial understanding of a concept, it’s time to consolidate their understanding (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2017). They can do this using index cards, collecting these cards as visual representations of the building blocks of expertise.

Many teachers use the SEE-IT model. See the steps in Figure 1 below. Figure 1: SEE-IT Model for Consolidating Understanding of Single Concepts Source: Adapted from Stern et. al, 2017; originally adapted from Paul & Elder, 2013. Social studies teacher Jeff Phillips asked his students to complete this activity to consolidate their understanding of the concept of “services.” And English/language arts teacher Trevor Aleo asked his students to complete the steps with the concept of “symbol.” See both student examples in Figure 2 below. What Is Schema Theory In Education Figure 2: SEE-IT Card Examples for Social Studies and Language Arts When students elaborate on their understanding of concepts, it presents an opportunity to correct any lingering misunderstandings. See the student example in Figure 3 below. Notice that the student wrote that a leader has a “right” to change society’s perspective, demonstrating a common confusion in social studies. Figure 3: Example of Misconception of a Concept Now—on to the really good stuff. Once students have acquired, corrected, and consolidated their understanding of individual concepts, it’s time to connect the concepts in relationship. That’s where schema is built.

  • This next step comes during and after students have explored a fact-rich context such as a complex mathematical problem, science experiment, literary text, or social studies context.
  • Students use their learning experiences to generalize into organizing principles about how the world works (Erickson & Lanning, 2014).

They can now physically arrange the note cards or Post-it notes to demonstrate how concepts are related. Then, they should write a sentence or paragraph that explains the relationship. Science teacher Julia Briggs asked her students to connect the concepts of matter, arrangements, subatomic particles, and properties. What Is Schema Theory In Education Figure 4: Science Example of Sorting and Connecting Concepts to Build Schema Similarly, math teacher Courtney Paull asked her students to connect five concepts using Post-it notes: linear models, table, story, graph, and equation. Then, they wrote a paragraph about how the concepts are related.

  1. The students wrote, Because a story, equation, graph and/or table are part of a linear model, as long as you have one component you can find the rest by using the present numbers.
  2. The table is used to find patterns in the input and output, while the equation helps find the specific values for x and/or y.
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A graph gives us a visual representation of the pattern and the story helps us make connections to real world situations.” Wow. Imagine if we had all learned mathematics this way. See the picture in Figure 5 below. What Is Schema Theory In Education Figure 5: Mathematics Example of Sorting and Connecting Concepts to Build Schema The index cards and Post-it notes help students to physically build an organizational structure or schema directly on their desks. Importantly, schema is not built with just one pass at making connections.

Schema is built through multiple experiences of making connections. This activity can and should be repeated throughout the unit, semester, and school year. Students can add more concepts and make more connections each time they transfer their understanding to a new situation, eventually writing several paragraphs about how the concepts are connected and related.

Regular readers of this blog are likely familiar with John Hattie’s research, called Visible Learning, His meta-analysis of factors that influence student learning shows that an effect size of,40 is the average of all influences. So, we can think of,40 roughly as a year’s worth of growth.

Using examples of concepts from students’ prior knowledge =,93Clarifying misconceptions about concepts (conceptual change) =,99 Asking students to elaborate and organize their understanding of concepts =,75 Mapping concepts in connection to other concepts =,64 Strategies to transfer learning =,86

Exciting, isn’t it? Intentionally teaching for schema is supported by both cognitive science and meta-analysis of student achievement. Grab some index cards or Post-it notes and help your students both retain information and transfer it to new situations.

For more practical ways to apply this research in the classroom, see or Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding, Secondary or Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding, Elementary, Opening image courtesy of Getty Images. References: Boaler, J. (2014). Tour of Mathematical Connections. YouCubed, Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Retrieved from: https://www.youcubed.org/resources/tour-mathematical-connections/ Donovan, S., & Bransford, J. (2005). How students learn: History, mathematics, and science in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Erickson, H.L., & Lanning, L.A.

  1. 2014). Transitioning to concept-based curriculum and instruction: How to bring content and process together,
  2. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  3. Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2017).
  4. Visible learning for literacy, grades K-12: Implementing the practices that work best to accelerate student learning,

Meta, J. & Fine, S. (2019). In search of deeper learning. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2013). How to write a paragraph: The art of substantive writing (3rd ed.). Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking. Stern, J., Ferraro, K., & Mohnkern, J.
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What is schema theory example?

Schema Theory A schema, or scheme, is an abstract concept proposed by J. Piaget to refer to our, well, abstract concepts. Schemas (or schemata) are units of understanding that can be hierarchically categorized as well as webbed into complex relationships with one another.

For example, think of a house. You probably get an immediate mental image of something out of a kid’s storybook: four windows, front door, suburban setting, chimney. However, if I were to amend the object’s name slightly, your scheme would shift to a more refined version. How about: Shotgun house? One door, maybe no front windows, low income setting.

Mansion? Multiple windows, side entrance for the help, sweeping front drive. That is a simple example, but our schemas get incredibly complex as we learn more about the world, and particularly as we become experts in a field. The more we know, the bigger and more complex our schemas become.

  • However, the more we know, the easier it is to remember new information related to the schema – because there is more pre-existing information in our heads that we can relate – and thus attach – it to.
  • For students, their schemas pretty much amount to what they already know about a concept.
  • They may have learned it in other classes or through their own experiences.

What they “know” may be incorrect. Our job is to either expand or correct their schemas about important concepts in our fields. However, no information will attach to their schemas if they we aren’t thinking about that schema when the information comes in.
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Why is schema theory important in education?

The unique experiences and lenses students bring into the learning environment are critical to their educational experience—it behooves educators to remain conscious of the schemata at play to drive learning outcomes. The Importance of Schemata in Teaching and Learning Students’ comprehension of course content will likely be the same or similar, thus it is important to recognize that students’ understanding of content may be drawn through the lens of their prior experiences, known as “schema.” This article will highlight the impact of schemata (plural for schema) on comprehension along with practical strategies for online instructors that will help students retrieve and construct information accurately in the solely text-based, screen-reading learning environment.

Regardless of whether you teach full or part time, it is imperative to possess a healthy, informed understanding of how students learn, what factors may impede learning, and what research-based strategies are available to support student success. The act of reading and a student’s ability to become a fluent, comprehending, knowledgeable reader is an area of concern especially for those immersed in the text-only, online learning environment.

Based on our collective experience as Associate Deans of Faculty, we have learned that most adjunct online instructors bring superb content knowledge to their courses but very few understand the myriad processes that occur during the act of reading which, in turn, affect students’ learning and subsequent performance in the course.

What Should Teachers Know? One particular aspect of learning that instructors should consider is how students use prior knowledge to comprehend and learn from text. Schema Theory emphasizes the mental connections learners make between pieces of information and can be a very powerful component of the learning process.

It has been said that the fundamental principle of schema theory assumes that written text does not carry meaning by itself and that it can only provide direction for learners as to how they should retrieve or construct meaning from their own previously acquired knowledge.

  1. The activation of a learner’s schema may be recognized as the process in which “textual stimuli signal the direction or area for the reader to look for and evoke the relevant schema from memory into the present reading task” (Li, 1997).
  2. According to Psychologist and researcher David Ausubel (1967), “Schema theory has tremendous implications for school classrooms.
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It is crucial for teachers to realize that students can remember substantial amounts of new information only if they are able to cluster it with their related existing ideas. People forget information if they do not work to integrate it into their existing mental frameworks.” According to Shuying An (2013) there are three major types of schemata: linguistic, formal and content, all of which correlate to reading comprehension.

  1. Linguistic schemata refer to a reader’s existing language proficiency in vocabulary, grammar and jargon.
  2. Without it, it may be impossible for the reader to decode and subsequently comprehend the text.
  3. Formal schemata are the organizational forms and rhetorical structures of written texts, and readers will us their schematic representations of the text.

Lastly, content schemata refer to the background knowledge of the content area. This may include topic familiarity, cultural knowledge, and previous experience with a field (An, 2013). One assumption that has been made about schema activation is that some words or groups of words or the title of a text are highly suggestive and they may signal a certain schema.

  1. For example, textual stimuli may affect a schema in two ways.
  2. If a stimulus is highly suggestive of a certain schema, that schema as a whole may be activated.
  3. For example, the mention of a police detective may activate a “murder” schema.
  4. According to Mac Duis in his article entitled “Using Schema Theory to Teach American History” (n.g.): It may be quite useful to know that learners may be limited by their schemata if they are unable to detect relationships between ideas.

This may be overcome by challenging them to make the connections between ideas that are necessary for the transfer of abilities from the classroom to their external realities such as a vocation of interest. These many connections may help learners become better able to gain access to their schema-based knowledge when they need it in authentic and relevant situations, not simply for success on an exam.

  • There is also a cultural implication, which is critical as the demographic landscape of America’s students is dramatically changing.
  • Studies by Johnson (1981) and Carreli (1981), (as cited in An, 2013) have shown that the implicit cultural knowledge predetermined by content may interact with a student’s cultural background knowledge of the topic.

Their investigation further shows that this may make texts whose content is based on one’s culture easier to read and understand than a syntactically and rhetorically equivalent text based on a less familiar culture. This is something for instructors to consider when the classroom is populated by students with varied cultural backgrounds.

  1. Course Content At our university, course content is created by subject matter authors in collaboration with instructional designers.
  2. How effectively the author constructs the text and how well the reader reconstructs it and discovers meaning may influence comprehension.
  3. It is critical for instructors to know that meaning does not necessarily pass between author and reader and that perceptions of meaning may vary greatly based on schemata.

Comprehension difficulties may occur when the student is unable to immediately access knowledge stored in their schemata (S.J. Samuels, 2013). This is something to consider in relationship to the role of the teacher. If what has been said is true, perhaps we best serve our students when acting as mediators guides, and interpreters for content and what may or may not be fully comprehended.

  • Strategies Several methods have been endorsed to foster more meaningful learning through the activation of schemata.
  • David Ausubel (1967) recommends the “advance organizer” as the best way for teachers to activate the appropriate schemata of students so that more “conscious clustering of new information with existing ideas could take place.” For example, to introduce a lesson on the tenets of the U.S.

Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, a teacher might activate students’ legal schemata by having students think about their own experiences with the law. The students are more likely to remember the key tenets of the Fourth Amendment by directly placing them into their existing schematic “organizations” than if they were presented with those tenets without cognitive preparation.

  • What happens when students are limited by their experiences and do not possess schemata with which to comprehend new information? To meet the learning needs of these students, an instructor must go beyond merely activating existing student schemata.
  • When examining potentially complex concepts or abstract ideas that students may not be familiar with, instructors must help students develop the appropriate new schemata.

This serves to underscore the advantages that practitioner-academics may have, as they can offer real-world experiences that in part or in whole, relate to student schema (Duis, n.d.). I’ve often used this approach when teaching about the decades-long commitment to the practices and policies of the processes involved in community policing.

  1. By placing them in the schema-developing role of police-policy planner, this has led toward a higher level of comprehension and understanding.
  2. After being presented with the negative effects of the historical fracturing of the police and the communities served, students are directed to create strategies to rebuild and repair the relationships with the inclusion of focus questions such as: “What are the most pressing problems in the communities? Who needs help and why? What can the police do to meet these needs?” In addition, providing background knowledge of the subject has helped enhance students’ comprehension (Shen, 2004).

It has been additionally beneficial when I have assisted students with the identification of keywords and clarification of meaning. These have contributed to enhanced literal comprehension, while other activities such as brainstorming, evaluation, inferring, encouraging re-reading, and discussion contributed to better to comprehension of content.

Pre-Teach to Build Requisite Knowledge: Don’t expect students to read content “cold.” Introduce them to the concepts and ideas they may not be academically familiar with. Integrate the New to the Known: This is where the instructor should describe and discuss how the new material may relate to what the student already knows. Highlight the Structure of the Material to be Learned: The instructor should break down the material into coherent and clear components. Using tools such as a graphic organizer in order to organize the components outlined are highly recommended. Providing Packets of Factoids Limits Learning: If you seek to cover too much material, you may end up ignoring or covering up what should be learned. It’s best to cover less information more deeply for enhanced comprehension (Johnson, 2014).

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Summation Student schemata is single albeit critical aspect of the learning process. Recognition of the fact that comprehension is an interactive process whereby the students will seek to correlate prior knowledge with new learning in order to construct meaning from text is crucial to instructional strategies that serve to guide, interpret and clarify content.

  • References An, S. (2013).
  • Schema Theory in Reading.
  • Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 130-133.
  • Ausubel, D. (1967).
  • Learning Theory and Classroom Practice.
  • The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 99-107. Duis, M. (n.d.).
  • Using Schema Theory to Teach American History.
  • National Council for the Social Studies.

İsmail Hakkı Erten, S.R. (2009). The effects of cultural familiarity on reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 60-77. Johnson, A. (2014, March 26). Schema, Theory, and Learning Comprehension. Retrieved from Dr. Andy Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4_Kio9pPwE&index=2&list=PLyDfqhw3vUT7B8B3bdK2Gsff0ETw7jRYz&t=446s Samuels, S.J.

  1. 2013). Toward A Theory of Automatic Information Processing In Reading.
  2. In(n.g) Theoretical Models of Reading (pp.698-718).
  3. Newark: International Reading Association.
  4. Smith, M.C. (1994).
  5. What Do Adults Read and Why Does It Matter? Chicago: Mid-Western Educational Research Association.
  6. Zhaohua, S. (2004).
  7. Effects of Previewing and Providing.

TESL Reporter, 50-63.
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What is Piaget’s schema theory?

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development in Infancy and Early Childhood Piaget’s theory provides an explanation of how a child’s logic and reasoning develop over time. Key principles Piaget suggested that we understand the world around us by using schemas,

  1. A schema is a pattern of learning, linking perceptions, ideas and actions to make sense of the world.
  2. Piaget described it simply as the “way we see the world”.
  3. When a child’s experience matches what they understand they are in a state of equilibrium,
  4. If they come across a new situation or task that they do not understand, Piaget called this disequilibrium,

This occurs when a child is unable to use existing schema to understand new information to make sense of objects and concepts. To enable understanding, Piaget suggested that new information is added to a current schema ( assimilation ) or the schema is a changed, or a new one is developed to improve understanding of the task ( accommodation ).

Piaget believed that children pass through stages of development in a sequence which is universal and not predetermined by gender or culture. This theory shows how thought and reason change from birth to adolescence. Piaget stated that children may go through this at different paces. Stages of Intellectual Development: Sensorimotor stage ( 0 – 2 years) This is the first stage of Piaget’s theory.

He suggested that children learn by using their senses and through actions.

  • Infants learn through using their reflexes and, according to Piaget, these are important for the development of schemas.
  • Children learn that objects still exist even when out of sight (object permanence) from around 7-8 months of age.
  • If a parent hides a toy and a child looks for it, this indicates that the child has object permanence.
  • Pre-operational stage ( 2 – 7 years

During the pre-operational stage, the child is unable to use logic to problem solve. Children are unable to see situations from the perspective of others. Piaget referred to this as egocentrism. Although children are unable to see situations from the perspective of others, this is not the same as selfishness.

  1. During this stage children also learn to conserve quantities.
  2. Conservation refers to the ability to think logically to determine that a particular quantity will remain the same, even if there is a change in shape or size.
  3. Formal operations ( 11+ years)

This is the final stage of Piaget’s theory. Children can now think abstractly, and can problem solve and reason using hypothetical thought. : Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development in Infancy and Early Childhood
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What are the benefits of schema theory?

Dysfunctional beliefs and patterns of behaviour – termed schema – can affect people throughout life, contributing to problematic coping methods and modes of behaviours. The primary benefit of Schema Therapy is its ability to 1) help people identify and adjust their negative patterns of behaviour and 2) learn how to ensure their emotional needs are met, in a healthy way.
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What is an example of a schema in child development?

Have you seen a toddler repeat an activity over and over again – tipping over the Lego box and emptying its contents on the floor, swishing the paint around in a circle, rolling their toy car over the uneven tiles and refusing to stop? It’s actually all part of their essential brain development and is called a schema.
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What are the 3 types of schema theory?

CERTIFIED TEFL ENGLISH INSTRUCTOR – Published Sep 4, 2020 In schema theory, reading comprehension of material interacts between a reader’s background knowledge and the text. For reading comprehension to be efficient, learners must have the ability to relate written material to their own knowledge of the world.

Further, reading comprehension operates interactively and simultaneously between bottom-up and top-down processing. Bottom-up processing activates learners’ pre-existent schema from the text while top-down processing encourages students to make predictions from the text allowing new schema connections to be made.

Schema theory can be classified into three types: linguistic schema, content schema, and formal schema. Linguistic schema refers to a student’s previous knowledge about phonics, grammar, and vocabulary. Content schema revolves around background knowledge of a topic, cultural knowledge/bias toward the topic, cultural customs, and prior experience with the topic.

Formal schema focuses on background knowledge of rhetorical organizations of various textual genre such as newspapers, research books, academic journals, poetry, fictional writing, and non-fictional writing. Each genre has its own particular writing style and structure. Lack of knowledge regarding these differences contribute significantly to poor reading comprehension.

Textual stimuli triggers schema in two ways. First, if the written text suggests a known schema, emotional triggers, cultural bias, background learning, and previous acquisition of knowledge will be activated. Often, though, textual stimulus exposes schema gaps in which the learner has no knowledge.
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