The term schema is applied to mental knowledge structures or cultural constructs in memory which condition our understanding of information, situations or events.
While the concept can be found in Plato and Aristotle, as well as Kant, its recent use is attributed to Bartlett (1932). In a study of subjects' recall of a Native American folk tale over many years, Bartlett revealed remembering to be a complex and culturally determined process and proposed the schema as a cognitive construct to encapsulate this process.
Piaget (1952) later used the term schema in the more restricted sense common in cognitive psychology, to refer to the state of an child's understanding which may then assimilate new knowledge or itself undergo accommodation as learning occurs (see adaptation).
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