A schema is a mental structure that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them. It can also be described as a framework of preconceived ideas that guides our perception and understanding of the world. Constructive processing is the process of creating new knowledge and meaning from the interaction between our existing ideas and our experiences. In this article, we will discuss how a schema is related to constructive processing, and how they both influence our learning and cognition.
What is a Schema?
The term schema comes from the Greek word “σχήμα” (skhēma), which means shape, plan, or scheme. The concept of schema has been used in various fields of study, such as philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science. In psychology and cognitive science, a schema describes a pattern of thought or behavior that represents some aspect of the world, such as an object, a person, a situation, or an event. A schema can be viewed as a structured expectation that helps us to interpret and respond to new information.
According to Wikipedia, schemata influence attention and the absorption of new knowledge: people are more likely to notice things that fit into their schema, while re-interpreting contradictions to the schema as exceptions or distorting them to fit. Schemata have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information. Schemata can help us to understand the world and the rapidly changing environment. People can organize new perceptions into schemata quickly as most situations do not require much strenuous processing when using schema, since automatic thought is all that is required.
Some examples of schemata include mental models, social schemas, stereotypes, social roles, scripts, worldviews, heuristics, and archetypes. For instance, a mental model is a schema that represents how something works or operates, such as a car or a computer. A social schema is a schema that represents how people behave or interact in different situations, such as a classroom or a party. A stereotype is a schema that represents a generalized and simplified view of a group of people, such as women or Asians. A social role is a schema that represents the expected behavior and responsibilities of a person in a certain position, such as a teacher or a parent. A script is a schema that represents the typical sequence of actions and events in a specific context, such as going to a restaurant or watching a movie. A worldview is a schema that represents the beliefs and values of a person or a culture, such as religious or political views. A heuristic is a schema that represents a rule of thumb or a shortcut for problem-solving or decision-making, such as “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. An archetype is a schema that represents a universal symbol or motif that recurs in literature and art, such as the hero or the villain.
What is Constructive Processing?
Constructive processing is the process of creating new knowledge and meaning from the interaction between our existing ideas and our experiences. It is based on the assumption that learning is not simply a passive reception of information, but an active construction of reality. Constructive processing involves both assimilation and accommodation of new information into existing schemata.
Assimilation is the process of incorporating new information into existing schemata without changing them. For example, if you have a schema for dogs as four-legged furry animals that bark, you can assimilate new information about different breeds of dogs into your existing schema without altering it.
Accommodation is the process of modifying existing schemata to fit new information that contradicts or challenges them. For example, if you encounter an animal that looks like a dog but has three legs and meows, you may need to accommodate your existing schema for dogs by creating a new subcategory or changing some features.
Constructive processing can also involve creating new schemata from scratch when existing ones are insufficient or irrelevant for dealing with new information. For example, if you encounter an alien creature that has no resemblance to any animal you know, you may need to construct a new schema for it based on your observation and inference.
How are Schema and Constructive Processing Related?
Schema and constructive processing are closely related concepts that influence each other in various ways. Schema provide the basis for constructive processing by providing the initial framework for interpreting and organizing new information. Constructive processing modifies and expands schemata by incorporating new information into them or creating new ones from them.
Schema and constructive processing also affect how we learn and remember information. Schema facilitate learning by helping us to focus on relevant information and ignore irrelevant information. They also help us to recall information by providing cues and associations that trigger our memory. However, schemata can also hinder learning by causing us to overlook or distort information that does not fit into them. They can also cause errors in memory by filling in gaps or making false inferences based on our expectations.
Schema and constructive processing also influence how we think and reason about information. Schema provide us with heuristics and shortcuts that simplify and speed up our thinking and reasoning processes. They also help us to make sense of complex and ambiguous information by providing coherence and structure. However, schemata can also bias our thinking and reasoning by causing us to ignore or reject information that contradicts or challenges them. They can also lead us to make faulty judgments or decisions based on our assumptions or stereotypes.
Schema and constructive processing are two important concepts in cognitive psychology that explain how we perceive, understand, and interact with the world. Schema are mental structures that organize categories of information and the relationships among them. Constructive processing is the process of creating new knowledge and meaning from the interaction between our existing ideas and our experiences. Schema and constructive processing are closely related and influence each other in various ways. They both facilitate and hinder our learning, memory, thinking, and reasoning processes. Understanding how schema and constructive processing work can help us to improve our cognitive skills and abilities, as well as to avoid some common pitfalls and biases.