The core objective of the study was to find out the relevance of contextual knowledge as a requirement for comprehending prose passages (Bransford & Johnson 717). It aimed at showing that not only is previous knowledge shown in the performance of Ss in tasks that involve the understanding of linguistic information, but there is a need of some knowledge for the meaning of information.
The study procedure entailed carrying out experiments that comprised of a passage in which sentences adhered to the rules of normal English and there was also the use of vocabulary terms in non-metaphorical ways. The experiment comprised of an acquisition phase and two tasks that included comprehension recall and rating. Five independent groups of Ss were included with 10Ss in every group.
The most vital independent variables were the passage. On the other hand, the most significant dependent variables were pictures, balloons, Ss(50 male and female high school students).
The major findings of this study were that the presentation of a suitable semantic context had a clear impact on the comprehension recall and ratings. Four studies were carried out, each showing that there were improved comprehension ratings when Ss were given the correct information before listening to passages. All Ss knew the meanings of the words and were aware of the structure of the sentences used in the passage (Bransford & Johnson, 720). The comprehension recall and ratings were only when Ss did not get the suitable context prior to listening to the passage.
It was also found out that the biggest difference between No Context (1) and Context Before groups was because of several factors. For instance, knowledge of the suitable context could offer information that enabled Ss to come up with ideas depending on pre-experimental experiences, and there could have been an overlap of most ideas that were in the passage. The outcome of experiments II, III, and IV showed that prior knowledge of a situation was not a guarantee of its significance in the comprehension. Prior knowledge can only aid comprehension if it is an activated semantic context.In Experiment I, it was found out that Comprehension and recall scores of the topicaftergroups were low compared with those of the Topic Beforegroups. In brief, the impact of the topic in experiments II, III, and were the same as the context in Experiment I.
The main conclusion of the study was that some cognitive structures are necessary for acquiring knowledge. Even though it may not be easy to give a precise statement synthesizing these understandings during comprehending and remembering, the above results put emphasis on the critical function of semantic contexts (Bransford & Johnson, 724). The experimental manipulation of the context may comprise of an important strategy for studying the connection between present input events and prior knowledge. Another conclusion was that retrieval cues are vital for recall and that they should be availed before carrying out an experiment.
The one thing that I liked about this study was that it was not bias. Each was given a similar opportunity to find out if they would comprehend and recall the context. Secondly, in order to get accurate results, the male and female students were asked to write down many ideas if at all they were not in a position to remember them word by word.
Bransford, J. & Johnson, M. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding: Some investigations of comprehension and recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11(6), 717-726.