Schemata is an actively thinking mental activity. It is a thinking process to predict, verify and acknowledge information according to readers’ previous information, knowledge and experience, and also an interactive language communication between readers and the writer through text. This is a reason of why the writer chose the Biology and Physic department students for her sample since they have a difference previous knowledge and experience background in study. It absolutely showed the differences on analyzing reading comprehension test.
Goomes said Schemata is “a structure in semantic memory that specifies the expected sequence of events”. There are various kinds of schemata in man’s mind, such as car schemata, teacher schemata, building schemata and so on. The main point of schema theory is that one needs to connect new things with those known concept, past experience, or background knowledge, to understand new things. Understanding and interpretation of new things depend on the existing schema in mind and the input information must match existing schemata.
Schemata can help people to understand not only things and experience, but also the language describing things and experience, including written and spoken form. Because discourse comprehension involves discourse and its readers, effective comprehension requires that readers are able to associate the discourse with personal knowledge. The writer assumed that language ability is in fact one part of one’s total background knowledge or schemata.
According to Vacca, she said Schemas, or schemata, are seen as “cognitive constructs by which organize information in our long-term memory reflect the experiences, conceptual understanding, attitudes, values, skills, and strategies we bring to a text situation” Schemata, therefore, have been called “the building blocks of cognition because they represent elaborate networks of information that people use to make sense of new stimuli, events, and situations”.
In addition Bartlett said Schemata is “A mental framework for understanding and remembering information of the world an organization of concepts and actions that can be revised by new information”. When reading, students who can not know the meaning are usually related the current information of their schemata.
“proposed three possible reasons why readers can not understand a text: first, readers lack proper schema. Under this condition, readers can not understand the meaning contained in the text at all. Second, readers may possess adequate schema, but the author does not provide enough clues to activate the schema. Therefore, readers still can not get the meaning. If adequate clue is provided, readers can understand the text. Third, readers interpret the text in a consistent way but deviate from the author’s intention. Under this condition, readers seem to understand the text but misunderstand the author’s intention”.
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Having more prior knowledge generally aids comprehension. Readers use prior knowledge to understand a text. There are many aspects to prior knowledge, including knowledge of the world, cultural knowledge, subject matter knowledge and linguistic knowledge. A reader’s interest will also influence the level of prior knowledge. All of these factors are important to different degrees, depending on the reading task and readers’ knowledge depends on their live experience.
According to pang, prior knowledge is different in different countries, regions and cultures. Reading tasks and reading instruction should be sensitive to the type of prior knowledge that is needed for the reader to understand a text.
Based on above descriptions of schema, it can be inferred that schemata has the following characteristics: it is organized – when we learn, information is classified into hierarchical categories; it is built on prior knowledge of the individual – the process of building schema is accumulative and individualized; it contains the salient features of the object or event – schema directs our attention to the most distinguishable aspects; it takes repeated encounters to build a schema – that is why practice is necessary; it is contextual – schema comes from various real contexts; and it is modifiable – schema can be modified to accommodate new information and contexts.
Furthermore Schemata can help people to understand not only things and experience, but also the language describing things and experience, including written and spoken form. Schema theory is a general theory of knowledge. Understanding the concept of schemata will help those interested in reading comprehension to understand how readers can acquire new knowledge and also how we might help readers in this endeavor. We should not forget, however, that reading is a multi-faceted process and schemata utilization is just one aspect of the set of interacting processes involved in comprehension.