1972 Bransford Johnson





1972 Bransford Johnson

The article, “Contextual Properties for Understanding: Some Investigations of Comprehension and Recall”, by John D. Bransford and Marcia K. Johnson focuses particularly on the connection between memorization and comprehension. Setting a precedent in this form of study on memory, Bransford and Johnson’s research has influenced the development of studies bent on understanding the respective relationship on a more profound level. Such studies have concentrated on the study of cognition in an effort to understand an individual’s process in the performance of activities or skills that require both mental and physical inputs. In this particular study, the researcher was expected to find the significance of contextual knowledge in the comprehension of prose passages. Accordingly, asserting the importance of contextual knowledge in the understanding of prose passages constitutes a key part of understanding the wider issues that are evident in respect to aspects of memorization and comprehension.

The study procedure comprised an acquisition phase, consequently followed by a pair of two obligations. These constituted comprehension rating and recall. In the foremost study, the authors provided the participants with a heavily worded section. Accordingly, the passage was meant to confuse some of the participants within the experiment due to its considerable wordiness and the lack of sense it exhibited. The second study introduced a picture first in contrast to the first study. The participants that took part in the respective exercise came across the illustration first before noticing or reading the words evident in the paragraph. In this particular study, Bransford and Johnson’s second research exhibited the significance of pictorial representation by the significance imposed on the illustration rather than the words. For the research, the independent variables constituted the mode of presentation. On the other hand, the dependent variable comprised the sentences that the participants identified wrongly within the passage.

The study discovered that the ability to comprehend messages was based on the individual’s generic knowledge of his or her settings as well as his or her understanding of the language. Both authors provided indistinguishable untitled passages to three groups comprised of adults. One faction was informed of the content of the passage. However, before the group embarked on reading the passage, the content of the passage was unveiled to the respective consequent group after reading it. In addition to this, the last group was not informed about the content that was present within the passage at all. Based on the results of the tests conducted on the three groups, Bransford and Johnson discovered that the individuals who were informed of the contents of the passage prior to the act of reading were capable of understanding and recalling the passage twice. Additionally, the results were explicated among people based in other groups.

The study concluded that comprehension and recall were aspects motivated by the presence of content prior to participation in the act of reading the passage. In this particular experiment, persons read passages that were ambiguous, vague, and complicated. As an outcome, it was difficult for them to understand and recollect the content they had read. Based on the outcomes of the research, it was possible to conclude that beforehand contextual knowledge imposed a considerable effect on memory. Hence, in conclusion, the individuals that had access to contextual knowledge before engaging in reading of the text allowed them to comprehend the texts easily. On the other hand, the lack of prior contextual information restricted some of the participants from comprehension and memorization of the contents within the study.

The interesting or likable aspect of the research was based on the associations it drew between contextual knowledge and memory. Focusing on this particular topic was imperative since it is applicable in all contexts. Indeed, as a student, most of the information that one gains tends to be highly beneficial or useless depending on the content of the passages. In most cases, content is minimal and as such, becomes hard to use effectively. However, the dislikable aspect of the research involved its lack of focus on other related aspects that may actually affect comprehension among the students.


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