It was predicted that the group given a schema before being read a short passage will comprehend significantly more than those not given a schema before reading a short passage. The research method chosen was an experiment, the target population was 16-19 year olds at Truro College in south west England. The design used was independent groups, and the sample consisted of thirty participants, randomly allocated, aged between 16 and 19 at Truro College.
The experiment involved the researcher randomly allocating a participant to a condition who was then read the standardised instructions which depending on the group they were allocated may or may not have included a schema.
The participant was then read a short passage and asked to rate their comprehension on a scale of 1 to 7, the participant was then debriefed.
The results were collected and a statistical test was then carried out in order to establish significance. The significance level was set at P?0.05 and a Mann Whitney U test was conducted.
(U = 27.5 CV = 72). This means that the Null hypothesis that there would be no significant difference in the level of comprehension between those given a schema and those not given a schema. Any difference will be due to chance factors alone can be rejected. Which therefore allows the acceptance of the experimental hypothesis that the group given a schema before being read a short passage will comprehend significantly more than those given a schema before reading a short passage.
From this the researcher can conclude that the results are in line with the findings of Bransford and Johnson (1972), in that the presence of a schema will increase comprehension which in turn has implications suggesting that it will also increase recall.
However the investigation did have limitations within the design including background noise due to situational distraction.
This study is based on research into memory. Memory is described in the ‘A-Z of psychology handbook’ as “a mental function by which we are able to retain and retrieve information about events that have happened in the past. It’s when we organise something so that we can remember or recall it later on, we are said to be using our memory.”
The cognitive approach, otherwise known as the information processing theory is one that has continuously been researched. If focuses on human thought and refers to all those ways knowledge of the world is attained, retained and used, including attention, memory, perception, language, thinking, problem solving and reasoning.
There are two major conflicting theories regarding memory. They are the Top Down Processing theory and the Bottom Up Processing theory.
Support for bottom up processing comes from Ebbinghaus (1885). Ebbinghaus (1885) was one of the first psychologists to look at memory; he maintained that short term memory is limited to 6 or 7 bits of information. Ebbinghaus constructed a list of trigrams e.g. QDP, AXT etc, he then learnt them and found that they decayed after a short period of time. His theory focused on rehearsal, suggesting that the more the information is rehearsed the more likely it is to be recalled. This theory is supported by Atkinson and Shiffrin’s Multi-Store model (1968).
They put forward an idea that the memory system is divided into three stores. They characterised memory as a flow of information through a system. Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed that external stimuli from the environment first enter the ‘sensory memory’ where it can be registered for a brief period of time before either decaying or being passed on to the ‘short-term’ store. Memory traces in short-term memory are fragile and can be lost within around 30 seconds if they are not rehearsed. Material which is rehearsed is then passed along to the ‘long-term’ memory store where it can remain for a lifetime, although loss is possible through decay or interference. Atkinson and Shiffrin argued that ‘rehearsal’ was essential. Information which is not rehearsed whilst in short-term memory will become lost.
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