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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mobilizing and building knowledge structures (Schemata)

Schemata is plural for worlds of knowledge and associations as they are read and triggered by particular ideas, words or situations. Schemata for particular networks of knowledge and information are activated as individuals read and add to their existing schemata as they encounter new information. In addition, their existing schemata influence the ways they approach and make sense of texts. Schemata, stores of knowledge about texts and about the world, are organized a networks of associations which can be triggered by a single word. For example, the word BALL may call up images of baseball diamonds, backstops, and bases as well as the pitchers, batters, catchers, umps, fielders and even sports commentators who take part in the game. Innings, errors, random statistics about particular players and even the smells and sounds of baseball stadiums may quickly and automatically come to mind as such images and ideas flood into consciousness. The same word, BALL, may for another reader call up a competing schema: Images of fancy gowns, corsages, tuxedos, limousine rides, and the blushing self-consciousness of a first prom. Proficient readers know they must relinquish any schema that proves inappropriate as they encounter further information from the text, but less experienced readers will often hold onto inappropriate images that block meaningful connections with the text.

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