Schemas Essay

This essay has a total of 3174 words and 17 pages.

schemas

Abstract

In this experiment we replicated a study done by Bransford and Johnson (1972). They
conducted research on memory using schemas. All human beings possess categorical rules or
scripts that they use to interpret the world. New information is processed according to
how it fits into these rules, called schemas. Bransford and Johnson did research on memory
for text passages that had been well comprehended or poorly comprehended. Their major
finding was that memory was superior for passages that were made easy to comprehend. For
our experiment we used two different groups of students. We gave them different titles and
read them a passage with the intentions of finding out how many ideas they were able to
recall. Since our first experiment found no significant difference, we conducted a second
experiment except this time we gave the title either before or after the passage was read.
We found no significant difference between the title types, but we did find a significant
difference between before and after. We also found a significant title type x presentation
interaction. We then performed a third experiment involving showing objects before and
after the passage was read. There we did encountersome significant findings. The
importance and lack of findings is discussed and we also discuss suggestions for future
studies, and how to improve our results.











Invoking schemas as an aid in recall: A replication of Bransford and Johnson (1972)

Experiment 1 represents a replication of an experiment done by Bransford & Johnson in
1972. During their experiment they invoked a schema which is an organizational or
conceptual pattern in the mind. They gave their participants different titles, some
received a specific title and some received a non-specific title, some participants were
given the title before the passage was read and some after the passage was read. After
determining who got which title they read them a passage looking to see how many different
ideas from the passage they could recall. They came to the conclusion that those who were
given specific titles and that had them given to them prior to the passage was read were
able to recall more then those that received a non-specific title or those that were given
the title after the passage was read. The results do show that schemas do help with recall
depending on how they are used and when. For our first replication of the experiment we
decided to use one of their techniques of experimenting, which involved giving a specific
title and a non-specific title. We expect to come up with the same results as Bransford
and Johnson, that those given the specific title will show a greater number of words
recalled over those who are given a non-specific title.

Another model is the Atkinson-Shiffrin Model of human memory which attempts to include all
aspects of memory. This multi-store model of memory was proposed by Richard Atkinson and
Richard Shiffrin in 1968. It is a structural model that suggests there are three distinct
storage systems; Sensory Store, Short-Term Memory (STM), and Long-Term Memory (LTM).
Information moves through these systems under the control of various cognitive processes
such as attention and rehearsal.

For our second experiment we decided to replicate experiment 1 again except this time we
extended it by adding a second independent variable. Instead of just giving the students
two different title types we also made it so that some participants received the title
before the passage was read and others received the title after the passage was read. By
doing this we hope to come up with the same results as Bransford and Johnson (1972).

Experiment 1
Method
Participants
The participants in this study consisted of twenty undergraduate students enrolled in two
classes of introductory psychology at Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg MA. All the
students were first semester freshman and their professor informed us that no relevant
content or material that pertained to this experiment was covered in her course. All the
participants were treated according to APA ethical guidelines. In completing this
experiment all the students received a small amount of extra credit points toward their
course.

Procedure
The experiment was conducted as follows; first the experimenters greeted the participants
and handed out consent forms to each individual along with a blank piece of paper. After
all the consent forms were signed, one experimenter collected them. Then the experimenter
wrote on the board either the specific title (doing laundry), or the non-specific title (a
simple procedure). The titles remained on the board for five seconds, and then were
erased. At that point they were then asked to listen to a passage:

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of
course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go
somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise you are pretty
well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things
at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but complications can
easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem
complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another fact of life. It is difficult to
foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one can
never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different
groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be
used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of
life (Bransford & Johnson, 1972).


After the passage was read aloud to the participants, they were then given two minutes to
write down as many of the ideas they could recall from the passage. They were then asked
to put their pens and pencils down. At that time all the response sheets were collected
and the participants were debriefed and thanked for their participation.

Results
To come up with the results of this experiment we analyzed three different types of
recall. The recall of ideas, recall of number of words excluding all the articles, and the
recall of the number of all the words together. All three variables were analyzed
separately using three independent means t-tests. The analysis of the recall of ideas
indicated no significant difference between the mean of the specific title group and the
non-specific title group. (M specific = 4.4, SD = 2.32, M non-specific = 3.0, SD = 2.21,
t(18) = 1.382, p>.05). The analysis of recall of number of words recalled excluding all
the articles indicated no differences between the two groups. (M specific = 9.0, SD = 8.1,
M non-specific = 6.2, SD = 5.6, t(18) = .9, p>.05). Finally the analysis of the recall of
the number of all the words together also indicated no differences between the two groups.
(M specific = 28.2, SD = 11.78, M non-specific = 19.3, SD = 11.8 t(18) = 1.688, p>.05).

Discussion

Our findings did not report the original findings of Bransford and Johnson (1972). There
could be several reasons for that; it is possible that we did not have a large enough
sample size, and not enough power to detect differences between the two groups. There was
a possibility that there was an issue with the participants not taking the study seriously
enough or maybe they did not pay attention to the passage as well as they should have.
Also we believe that some of the participants interpreted the instructions on what to
write down on the blank piece of paper differently then we expected them to. For example
one participant wrote down their personal opinion about doing laundry instead of the ideas
from the passage.

We plan to replicate the Bransford and Johnson (1972) study again with some changes hoping
to possibly prove our hypothesis to be correct. In order to make changes we plan to get a
larger class size, that way we can have less room for error. We are going to give one
group the title name prior to reading the passage and the other group will receive the
title after the passage is read. By doing this we plan to extend the study to further
investigate the nature of schemas.

Experiment 2
Method
Participants

The participants in this study consisted of fifty undergraduate students enrolled in two
classes of introductory psychology at Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, MA. All the
students were first semester freshman and their professor informed us that no relevant
content or material that pertained to this experiment was covered in her course. All the
participants were treated according to APA ethical guidelines. In completing this
experiment all the students received a small amount of extra credit points toward their
course.

Procedure
In one of the classes the experiment was conducted as follows; first the experimenters
greeted the participants and handed out consent forms to each individual along with a
blank piece of paper. After all the consent forms were signed, one experimenter collected
them. Then the experimenter wrote on the board either the specific title (doing laundry),
or the non-specific title (a simple procedure). The title remained on the board for five
seconds, and then was erased. At that point they were all asked to listen to a passage:

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of
course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go
somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise you are pretty
well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things
at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but complications can
easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem
complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another fact of life. It is difficult to
foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one can
never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different
groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be
used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of
life (Bransford & Johnson, 1972).


After the passage was read aloud to all of the participants, they were given two minutes
to recall as many of the ideas they could remember from the passage, they were told to
write them out on the blank piece of paper. They were then asked to put their pens and
pencils down. At that time all the response sheets were collected and the participants
were debriefed and thanked for their participation. In the other classroom the procedure
was performed exactly the same except for they were given the specific or non-specific
title after the passage was read instead of prior to reading the passage to them.

Results
This experiment utilized a 2(title type) x 2(presentation) between subjects group design.
The data was analyzed using a 2x2 between groups Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The
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