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Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett’s Theory of Schema: Understanding How the Human Memory Works, Retelling the Story of the War of the Ghosts, Assessment Example

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Assessment

ABSTRACT

The aim of this experimental research is to provide a more updated and distinctive indication on how much Bartlett’s theory of memory schema specifically indicates the process by which the human mind works especially when it comes to remembering details of particular information that they have been presented with during a specific span of time. Basing the results from the constructive collaboration of established theories with the results of the experiment, this research aims to provide a good basis that would serve as the proof towards the factual applicability of Bartlett’s explanation behind the mind’s  perception over the elemental impact of memory on the thinking process of human individuals.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT                                                                                                            2

1: Introduction                                                                                                        4

1.1 Theories and Supporting Researches                                                 5

1.2 Purpose of Performing Investigation                                                 6

2: Methodology                                                                                                       7

2.1 Design                                                                                                    7

2.3 Materials                                                                                                           8

2.4 Participants                                                                                           8

2.5. Procedures                                                                                           9

2.6 Independent Variables                                                                         9

2.7 Dependent Variables                                                                            10

  1. Results 10
  2. Discussion and Analysis 10
  3. Conclusion 13

1: Introduction

The mind’s capacity to function has continuously caused awe to many individuals and experts of many fields around the globe. Its capacity to work effectively as the body’s central processing unit has increased the interest of technological innovators and inventors to pattern a computer’s  CPU based on it functions. Relatively though, up to now, no super computer can compare to the capacity of the human brain to process several millions of gigabytes of thoughts per second[1]. Another specifically awe-inspiring capacity of the brain is its ability to store thoughts that is used over and over when it comes to creating perceptions that interpret the stimuli sent through the nerves coming from the five primary systems of the body involving the five primary senses [including the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and the skin] (Brewer, et al, 1981). Through the sensory nerves, the brain is able to immediately interpret and decode the message sent to it while utilizing the memory as stored thought that suggests meaning. This is the reason why it is seemingly evident that people who are well-aged are able to interpret matters easily compared to a young child.

The process by which the brain stores memory could however be categorized in several ways (Bartlett, 1932). Also, the way the brain access the utilization of such memories could also be noted through the manifestation of how it is able to gain access to what it has in store based on what it is supposed to give meaning to. Frederic Bartlett, a British psychologist, specifically defined the theory of memory schema whereas the brain intends to take note of several procedures to access thoughts and memories and use them as details that would define a current situation as required.

1.1 Theories and Supporting Researches

The theory of memory schema is considered as the basis of psychology in defining the ways by which the brain functions according to a distinct pattern of utilizing stored memory. Relatively, based on cognitive science, the psychology on memory schema imposes that the brain is able to identify well with the different messages that it has to interpret through specifically organizing the thoughts it already has, the thoughts it gains from human learning and other memory-defined ideas gained through the experiences of a human being. The distinct creation of meaning, which is a main function of the human brain, is specifically described in the theory of memory schema as the ways by which the brain intends to manifest an essential work that it covers especially when it comes to determining the value of each memory that it has in store. Distinctively, this process that the brain undergoes specifically affects human attention and perception.

Relatively, there are also some instances when the brain refuses to accept new set of thoughts. Such condition is affected by the personal beliefs of an individual. For instance, if a person believes strongly that something is not right and yet it is being changed by a particular new thought, it might not accept such idea especially if it does not respond to logical conditions of thinking (Cox, et al, 2012). Again, such a decision of whether or not a new thought is to be accepted is caused by the assumptive application of the memory schema. This is the reason why each individual is considered to have a personal schema. The brain of each person functions differently than that of the brain procedures taken into consideration by other humans especially when it comes to determining the mechanism of perception that it takes into account. Notably, this is also the reason why there is the existence of personal belief that specifically differs from one person to another.

1.2 Purpose of Performing Investigation

To prove the connotation of the theory of memory schema, several studies have been conducted. One of which is the study of story-retelling. Based on the story War of the Ghosts, several participants were asked to repeat telling the story on their own words. Notably, such condition of procedure requires a person to access immediate memory that has been stored in the mind for the time being. Although the memory of the story is temporary, there are some aspects of it that can be accepted by the brain as relatively important thus collecting it and categorizing it among the other important foundations of the person’s memory. It is then the purpose of this research to see whether or not such condition of human thinking and remembering could actually be provide through trial-based practice which involves participants who would undergo  a procedure close to what the participants of Bartlett had to undergo.

To consider, the results of this new experience is expected to be based on these reasoning

Experimental Hypothesis: It is assumed that the participants would be able to remember the details of the story especially relating to matters that specifically appeal to their senses and their mindful being. The difference of results however would be dependent on the time-distance that the telling of the story has with the actual writing of the data on paper.

Null Hypothesis:  There would be no significant differences among the results garnered from the participants who undergo the experimental procedures separated through the time-difference that the participants are given before they actually write the down the parts of the story they remember.

2: Methodology

2.1 Design

To set an actual and more recent evidence to the experiment, the researcher of this study has also completed a distinct experiment concerning the matter. Ten participants [between the ages of 13 to 19] have been asked to read up on the story of the War of the Ghosts. After reading, they were given at least twenty minutes of break before they were asked to rewrite the story in a paper. Considering this particular procedure, there are specific variables that are expected to affect the results to be garnered from this approach on researching upon Bartlett’s theory of memory schema.

2.3 Materials

  • Consent form for participants to sign
  • Written pieces of the story War of the Ghosts to be given to the participants individually for reading
  • Form of observation
  • Evaluation forms after the writing activity is completed

2.4 Participants

There were ten individuals asked to complete the practice that has been setup for this experiment. The individuals are noted to be between the ages 13 to 19. Such age-range has been chosen as this phase of human development specifically points out a strong function on memory remembrance among individuals. It is expected that through choosing participants within the said age would provide the most reliable results for the experiment being completed.

2.5. Procedures

The participants are given time to read up on the story the War of the Ghosts. After doing so, they are given 20 minutes of leeway and after the said time allowance, they are asked to write the story in a paper the way that they remember the details as they have read. The results of the written practice shall then be analyzed by the researcher based on the closeness that the written works have on the original story that has been worked on.

The participants shall be divided into five members each. The first group would be the control group. They would be given 20 minutes break before they are required to complete the write up of the story. The second group however would be given two hours of break [allowing the participants to do other things] before they actually undergo the writing practice. The element of time is expected to have a great impact on how the participants are going to respond to the activity they are asked to complete.

2.6 Independent Variables

The dependent variables in this experimental setup include the story resource and the background memories that the participants already have established in their minds that cannot be altered whatsoever given the time that is provided for the completion of this research. Time is also considered to be an independent variable for this study as it is a primary matter that could affect the overall performance of the participants therefore pointing out the applicability of Bartlett’s theory of memory schema.

2.7 Dependent Variables

            The dependent variable for this study include the way the story is read by each participant and the current state of mind of each individual shall be the dependent variables that could largely affect how the details would be remembered later on in writing.

  1. Results

Upon observation, the results of the stories rewritten were at least 70% close to that of the original story. About 30% of the written ones are however altered whereas the participants specifically related the situations in the story to their own experiences and personal understanding. It was evident that some of the information the participants have written were dependent on their own understanding and not that of the author’s. There were particular key phrases that play a great role on how the story is remembered by each phrase that were used to define the process of remembering that the participants use [Refer to appendix A].

The gathered results impose that the primary points of the story were relatively easy to remember as they serve as the specific foundations of the story, however the other smaller details were not that easy to remember for the participants as some might think that these particular details have not so much bearing on how the story develops towards the climax and the end. This particular result shows that the assumption of Bartlett in the past, along with that of the other experiments that followed it yield the same outcome therefore specifically creating a sense of distinction on how human memory works in relation to remembering matters and cross referencing the details with the ideas and experiences accordingly stored in the brain for a long time. The same outcome is also repeated within this particular study. Relatively, the time difference between the actual reading and the writing activity to be completed affected the results presented by the participants. This indicates that time does have a referring impact on how memory works especially in relation to recalling details in a rather immediate approach. This specifically defines the definite condition of thinking that the mind is enforced to take along with the pressures that come along with such assumptive points of processing.

  1. Discussion and Analysis

            As noted earlier, the theory of memory schema suggests that the brain is able to store memories according to categories. Such categories are decided upon based on the level of importance that they have on the individuals. This fact has been further proven in the experiment handled herein; at this point, it has been realize that there are several sources of memories that the brain specifically recognizes which affects the current way of remembering that humans undergo every day.

From the experimentation and the theories presented in the research resources of this study, these particular elements of memory creation has been realized to be valid and reliable to define the function of the brain as it tries to remember details as required on particular situations.

A) Primary learning

As a child grows up, he begins to notice things and develops a desire to understand them. This process of learning continues to be a specific pattern of grasping knowledge from one’s environment. Considerably, given that a child has not so much in store in his memory ye, every data gathered from his environment is perceived by the mind as vital information that is worthy of being stored (Rumelhart, 1980). This is the reason why it is specifically noted that a child’s brain is understandably at a crucial stage of being shaped into what it is being presented with through time. The decision to judge whether or not a particular date is useful or correct cannot be handled by a child’s brain yet, hence guidance is needed.

Part of the primary learning memories that the brain grasps is that of the lessons gathered from class during the early stages of going to school. May it be at home or at school, whatever the child learns becomes the basis of his basic truth. This means that other memories would have to challenge such basic truth in order for them to be stored in the bran accordingly.

B) Developed Knowledge

As a person turns into a more mature individual, the existence of a developed knowledge becomes possible. A person, at this stage, is already able to note whether an information is correct or not, based on how his ‘basic truth’ is utilized by the brain to sort out the thoughts that he encounters every day (Rumelhart, 1980). For instance, if as a child, he was taught that an apple is supposed to be color red, having to accept that some apples are green would already require some reasoning. [for the sake of this example, the brain would accept the new information on an apple’s color based on the fact that there are different varieties of apple] Such condition  of reasoning should be accompanied by proof for the brain to actually decipher the new information as valid.

Based from the given explanation, it could be realized why at this stage, a person with developed knowledge would have a hard time simply accepting new ideas as they come. The brain needs to impose on the basis of logical reasoning which intends to increase the value of the new information compared to what has already been stored and accepted in the memory.

C) Experience

One way of learning is through experience. Instead of just being presented with facts, experience makes a person realize a situation based on actuality[2]. This is the reason why it is most often than not that people who garner particular experiences strongly use such memory in perceiving new situations occurring to them. Most often than not, the brain segregates memories from experience at a much higher value compared to developed knowledge (Minsky, 1975). The impact of actual realization simply overrides the distinct effect of logical reasoning in a person. This is the reason why the emergence of ‘out-of-body’ experience specifically gains more attention for those who have already experienced it no matter how logical reasoning may say that such condition is impossible. It would take time before a person would actually accept that the said situation is more of a medical condition than a miracle given that the person has already tried once how it felt.

D) Assumptions

Due to stored knowledge, the brain is able to assume what will happen next. Based on either the basic truth or the memories gathered through time of experiencing life, a person is able to assume what would happen in the future. It may not be true, but because of the existence of vital memories, such assumptions are considered as possibilities that are valid enough to be believed in.

E) Personal Opinions

The collaborative use of the basic truths and the learned knowledge allows a person to formulate his personal opinions about matters that concern him. Consequently, he uses such opinions to define himself, define his beliefs and define the possibilities that might come his way or the thoughts that might be presented to him along the way[3].

These five elements of creating memory have been observed to have affected the thinking process that the participants took into account. Taking from their past memories and the newly defined data that the has been presented to them through the story given by the proctors of this study, the participants were able to identify particular data that would directly impact the way they present the story in writing. The alteration of established memory and ground knowledge that an individual bases his thinking on specifically affects the quality of data that he presents when he is asked to repeat a new idea that he was just able to grasp recently.

  1. Conclusion

The human brain functions in a very complex yet efficient manner. The way it stores memories and uses them for future reference often becomes the source of a person’s identity. This is why it is important that a person gives attention to what he feeds his mind with. Like a machine, it will not work properly unless it is provided within the right fuel. Based on the theory of schema as defined by Bartlett, a person’s brain has the capacity to judge whether or not an idea is acceptable. Feeding the brain with useful information shall make such decision making more effective thus yielding better results for the person. Noting what was learned through this discussion, it is important that the process of learning be best defined according to the capacity of the brain to decide on what memory to store and what memory to discard accordingly. Believably, the capacity of the human brain to define memory’s path of being utilized later on for specific reference especially when it comes to relating new ideas is affected by the past knowledge he was able to grasp with the new idea that he is presented with. The supposed confusion on data is not a manifestation of lack of memory organization, instead, it specifically notes how the brain connects past knowledge with the new ones to make sure that an established understanding is formed.

Works Cited

Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Brewer, W. F., & Treyens, J. C. (1981). Role of schemata in memory for places. Cognitive Psychology, 13, pp207–230, W. F.; Treyens, J. C. (1981). “Role of schemata in memory for places”. Cognitive Psychology 13: 207–230.

Cox, William T. L.; Abramson, Lyn Y.; Devine, Patricia G.; Hollon, Steven D. (2012). “Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Depression: The Integrated Perspective”. Perspectives on Psychological Science 7 (5): 427–449.

Johnston, E. B. (2001). “The repeated reproduction of Bartlett’s Remembering”. History of Psychology 4 (4): 341–366.

Mandler, J. M. (1984). Stories, scripts, and scenes: Aspects of schema theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Minsky, Marvin (1975). Patrick H. Winston, ed. A Framework for Representing Knowledge (The Psychology of Computer Vision ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rumelhart, David E. (1980). Schemata: The Building Blocks of Cognition (Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Schank, Rodger C.; Abelson, Robert P. (1977). Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Taber, Charles S.; Lodge, Milton (2006). “Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs“. American Journal of Political Science (Midwest Political Science Association) 50 (3): 755–769.

 

APPENDIX

A: Analysis Form

This form is specifically used by the researchers to measure the results presented by the participants of the study.

Key Phrases Number of People who Remembered
War of the Ghosts  10
Two young men 9
Went down to the river 9
And while they were there it became foggy and calm 6
And they thought: “maybe this is a war party” 5
And hid behind a log 5
And they heard the noise of paddles 4
There were five men in the canoe 6
When the sun rose he fell down 7
His face became contorted 8
He was dead 10

 

[1] Rumelhart, David E. (1980). Schemata: The Building Blocks of Cognition (Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

[2] Johnston, E. B. (2001). “The repeated reproduction of Bartlett’s Remembering”. History of Psychology 4 (4): 341–366.

[3] Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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