In my classroom we discuss the importance of active schema when comprehending text. The term “schema” was first used in psychology, meaning “an active organization of past reactions or experiences.” It assumes that written text does not carry meaning by itself. Rather, a text only provides directions for readers as to how they should retrieve or construct meaning from their own previously acquired knowledge.
My curiosity with computers began during my first job out of college at IBM Corporation in 1990. I worked in the GET (Government, Education and Transportation) sales branch in Chicago at One IBM Plaza. I was a marketing representative and responsible for selling PS/2 units to a number of clients including College of DuPage. After spending 2 years in sales, I decided to pursue a Masters Degree and carve out a pathway to teaching. My experience with studying how community college students work with computers informs active schema framework as to why I am still interested in this topic today.
My doctoral dissertation at University of Illinois Chicago was published in 1997, “Computers and the Community College Student: Sharing Dialogue about Technology.” My dissertation chair, Bill Ayers and committee members Vicky Chou, Bill Schubert, Caroline Heller and Bob Vogel, were influential scholars in my life. In my thesis introduction I wrote:
Classroom computer equipment has little value if teachers and students are unable to talk about what impact it has on their everyday lives. Their stories trace and fill in a snapshot of how these students come to know computer technology. By listening to students’ stories, I am able to consider different teaching strategies in order to recognize problems of computer access, realize differences in gender roles and attempt to pinpoint various computer literacy skills which can extend and condense options for students both in and out of the classroom.