Explanatory Models in the Processing of Science Text: The Role of Prior Knowledge Activation Through Small-Group Discussion

Henk G. Schmidt, Maurice L. De Volder, Willem S. De Grave, Jos H.C. Moust, Vimla L. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two experiments assessed effects of activation of prior knowledge through small-group discussion. Subjects were given a description of natural phenomena and were asked to elaborate on possible explanations for them. In Experiment 1, small groups of subjects were presented with a problem describing the behavior of a blood cell in pure water and in a salt solution. No additional text was studied. The experimental subjects produced more than twice as many propositions about osmosis (i.e. the biological process explaining the blood cell's behavior) as a control group produced. Experiment 2 investigated effects of problem analysis on subsequent text processing for subjects with imprecise prior knowledge (novices) and subjects with precise knowledge (experts). Recall of the text showed considerable facilitative effects of problem analysis. Results are explained in terms of faster accessibility of prior knowledge and better integration of new information into explanatory models that may exist before, or are actively constructed during, problem analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-619
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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