How People Process Information: The Importance of Story Schemata

There are many questions to how people process information. Many have understood that people remember and learn components of a passage more easily when particular elements of the passage are subjectively considered to be important than when it’s not. Systems such as story schemata produce organized descriptions of the substance of a text. Thus, drawing attention to particular parts of a story. However, there is no definite answer as to what makes such element s important, and therefore making such components become easily retrieved.

This paper will list possible explanations for what makes specific text important. Findings from prior research give special consideration to evidence that seem to maintain dissimilarities between encoding and retrieval. The schemata theory has been used for the present experiment. In this theory, components of a schemata are slots or variables which may be defined as events or elements that are remembered better because there is a structure or framework laid down beforehand. Such theories, which try to explain how schemas work are recognized as the “attention-directing theory” or the “slot theory.” Schema theory provides an instant annotation on the dominance in the recollection of important information.

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In the “attention-directing” hypothesis the schema singles out important elements. Therefore, more attention is devoted to these elements than to less important ones, and so they more likely to be learned. Another hypothesis is the “ideational scaffolding” hypothesis in which the schema is most likely going to contain a slot for important text elements where the information gets stored specifically because there is a function for it. Ways of processing information are based upon individual differences, in which there may or may not be slots for both important and unimportant elements.

Several investigators (Bower, 1977; Mandler & Johnson, 1977; Pichert & Anderson, 1977) have contemplated that a schema might provide a retrieval arrangement. The idea is that memory search comes from the generic knowledge integrated in the schema to the particular information stored when the text was read. A second possibility is that schemata guide “output editing.” This would require suggesting that a schema includes within itself an indicator of significance, which in conjunction with the demand characteristics of the recall causes the person to establish a response condition. A final possible retrieval process is “inferential reconstruction” (Spiro, 1977). Suppose that a participant was attempting to recall a story about going to a movie theatre. He or she might not remember whether popcorn had been eaten, but since there is a slot in his or her schema for popcorn being eaten during movie- watching. And so, the popcorn may be reconstructed, and assumes that soda was a most likely beverage to be drunk during the move session, being produced as a plausible guess. Therefore, the abstract apparatus of the schema will be biased toward reconstructing important elements.

There is a repeated finding that important elements persist to emerge in recall code of behavior after a retention period, whereas the appearance of unimportant elements decreases overwhelmingly (cf. Bower, 1976; Newman, 1939). In the present study, college students were read stories from either of two directed perspectives or from no directed perspective. The passage had to do with a subject named Spike, who was trying to get out of a situation, being bound and had been accused of doing something wrong. The situation was described to be in a closed tight space with a confinement description of his surroundings. Different groups rated the importance of the elements in the story from three points of view: the viewpoint of wrestler, the viewpoint of a convict, or a non- directional perspective.

The purpose of the experiment described in this paper was to attempt to offer a foundation for the process in text recall of retrieval methods separate from storage mechanisms. Within a schema framework, it can be argued that people may store information when reading a text, which they fail to produce when recalling that same information.

After the subjects had been read the Spike passage, all attempted to recall the story after being presented with a distraction test. One third of the subjects were directed to one perspective, that is, from wrestler, to convict, to a not title perspective. The importance of having two different perspectives (wrestler, and convict) and one non-perspective variable (no title) is that if these subjects were to recall information related to the perspectives directed to them then there is evidence of differences for retrieval processes.

The experimenter chose 24 subjects by using an intact group selection. The experimenter entered an educational psychology class that was already there (intact). Random assignment of the students to the three independent levels (wrestler, convict, and no title) was used. This is a between- subjects design.

The subjects were assigned to a group using a table of random numbers. Scraps of paper were given to the subjects in order to record their last names. Their information was then drawn from a pile one by one, and later tabulated in order to make a random assignment.

The experimenter verbally presented the subjects with an ambiguous passage. The vague story was used in order to set up the test for the hypothesis; therefore one can see the effect of the schema coming true. In this case, one may expect that having a title, or not title has a chance of affectingly bias the individuals’ perspective of the story. The experimental passage was a narrative about a subject named Spike who seemed to have been confined and punished for something he had done earlier. The passage contained a number of points of interest to a wrestler, a convict, as well as any other prospect (no title). After the passage had been read, a distraction task had been administered. This task is a version of the Brown Hyphen Peterson task. The subjects were asked to count 3 to 4 digit numbers backwards by 3’s for three different numbers.

The subjects were then told to write their responses on sheets of paper. They were encouraged to write down anything in any order, with as much detail as remembered. The following instructions were read to them; “Please write down as much of the exact story as you can on these two sheets of paper. If you cannot remember the exact words of any sentence, but you do remember the meaning, write down a sentence or part of a sentence as close to the original as possible. It is extremely important that you write down every bit of the story which you can remember.” The subjects had three minutes to write their responses down.

The paragraph had been divided into 16 idea units, and to make sure that scoring was accurate; one point was given to each idea unit. The subjects’ responses were scored based on the presence or absence of idea units. The participants played an active role in scoring their own protocol.

In the process of tabulation, a mean was calculated for the three independent variables (Wrestler, Convict, and No title). Descriptive statistics were performed to compare the means of the three variables. Coding was used to distinguish these variables as shown; 1 = wrestler, 2 = convict, 3 = no title. The means for wrestler, convict, and no title variables show that the presence of both title and no title increased recall (Figure 1). According to the calculated standard deviations of the three variables, variable 1 shows almost no variability with a range of 2- 7, variable 2 shows moderate variability with a range of 1- 12, and variable 3 shows almost no variability with a range of 2- 5 (Figure 1).

The ANOVA of all the data was then recovered showing that F (2, 21) = 2.75, p * .05 where p = .086 (Figure 2). This shows that the results are not significant where the probability of making a type 1 error is 8.6 % or p * .15. The results of the Post Hoc t –tests indicate that the difference between the mean of variable 1 (wrestler) and variable 2 (wrestler) is 1.5. The difference between the mean of variable 2 (convict) and variable 3 (no title) is 2.5 and the difference between the mean of variable 1 and variable 3 is 1.0 (Figure 3). According to the graph of Effect of Title on Recall variable 2 has the highest recall rate, variable 1 has the second highest recall rate, and variable 3 has the lowest recall rate (Figure 4).

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How People Process Information: The Importance of Story Schemata. (2018, Jul 07). Retrieved from