Schema Theory Background and Knowledge in Reading

Schema Theory Background and Knowledge in Reading

Schema Theory is the source of some questions like: How do readers construct meaning? How do they decide what to hold on to, and having made that decision, how do they infer a writer’s message? The reader brings information, knowledge, emotion, experience, and culture – that is, schemata (plural) – to the printed word, Brown (2001: 299).

Beside that, this idea also support by Clarke and Silberstein in Brown (2001) capture the definition of schema theory as follows:

“Research has shown that reading is only incidentally visual. More information is contributed by the reader than by the print on the page. That is, readers understand what they read because they are able to take the stimulus beyond its graphic representation and assign it membership to an appropriate group of concepts already stored in their memories…….Skill in reading depends on the efficient interaction between linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the world”.


            There are two categories of schemata, as follows:

  1. Content Schemata include what we know about people, the world, culture, and the universe
  2. Formal Schemata consist of our knowledge about discourse structure.

                In line with the explanation above, the writer conclude that the use of pre-questioning is to build readers’ content schemata which are related to the background of knowledge.


2.4 Cognitive Factors in Reading

                According to Harris and Sipay (1980:251) there are several cognitive factors in reading such as perception, attention, memory, and cognitive style.

2.4.1 Perception

Perception starts with the stimulation of sense organs such as the eyes and ears, but it is far more than simple sensing. In perceiving, the brain selects, groups, organizes, and sequences the sensory data so that people perceive meaningful experiences that can lead to appropriate responses. Among the important characteristics of perception, several seem to have particular relevance for reading, such as follows:

  1. 1.      Figure and Ground

Normally, one major unit or group of units is perceived clearly against a background that is more vaguely perceived.

  1. 2.      Closure

The abilities to get the correct meaning of a sentence in which not all the words are recognized, and to pronounce a word correctly when some letters are blotted out, are examples of closure.

  1. 1.      Sequence

In reading, all the stimuli are on the page and sequence is imposed by the reader.

  1. 2.      Learning

Perception becomes meaningful units as they become associated with learned concepts and their verbal labels. 

  1. 3.      Set

One’s immediate mind set provides an anticipation of what is likely to come that is helpful when the anticipation is correct, but leads to errors when the anticipation is incorrect.

  1. 4.      Discrimination

The abilities to analyze a whole perception into its parts, and to synthesize the parts correctly are basic to success in visual and auditory discrimination of words.  

Schema Theory Background and Knowledge in Reading | Moch Wahib Dariyadi | 4.5

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