Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies

By Mary Lynch Kennedy | Go to book overview

S

SCHEMA THEORY

Summary

Schema theory refers to the collection of models that represent how humans comprehend and transform knowledge. A schema is a collection of ideas and the relationships among ideas that can be filled out with particular instances. For example, we "comprehend" the eyes of a stranger by drawing upon an abstract knowledge of eyes accumulated through the years. We then fill in the abstraction with particulars: the stranger's eyes are blue or brown, round or oval, and so on. Schemata for eyes may be derived from clusters, or schema, of blue, green, or brown, oval or round, eyes. The schemata of a face may be derived from a schema of eyes, a schema of mouths, and so on. According to schema theorists, each new face, and each new set of eyes transforms how we compre- hend both eyes and faces. Thus, we are constantly processing new schema and transforming prototypes, which can then be filled out with particulars that con- tribute to new transformations.

Schemata take some of the following forms: prototypes of concepts, such as the human face; an action, such as striking a nail; scripts or sequences of events, such as making an introduction; and plans or goals, such as grocery shopping. Although initially conceived as somewhat static, hierarchical clusters of abstrac- tions, schema theorists have advanced the notion of schema to include some flexibility within the hierarchies to allow for each new transformation. As a result, schema models currently fall into three overlapping, comprehension- oriented categories: the first emphasizes how information is stored or represented in memory; the second, how stored information is used to guide comprehension of incoming information (recall); and the third, how new information transforms

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Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • A 1
  • B 9
  • C 15
  • D 77
  • E 103
  • F 117
  • G 131
  • H 149
  • I 157
  • L 169
  • M 181
  • N 195
  • P 213
  • R 255
  • S 269
  • T 321
  • V 333
  • W 339
  • Selected General Bibliography 377
  • Index 379
  • About the Contributors 393
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