SAT Word Schema Charts
Learning a bunch of vocabulary words quickly is extremely useful not only to L2 learners but also to high schoolers preparing for the SATs. Creative and meaningful integration of SAT vocabulary synonyms, antonyms, and related verbs illustrates how (with a little planning and knowledge of schema theory) instructional designers can greatly reduce the cognitive load which hampers learning. First, SAT vocabulary words were grouped by meaning and abstract categories such as amount-related words, or control vs freedom. Words in the left column are related to a lack, words on the right are synonymous with abundance, and verbs are placed in left or right-pointing arrows depending on whether they connote a decrease or increase in the abstract category, respectively. It could be argued that an existing schema is being enriched, or as Merrill, 2002 writes “Learning is promoted when existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge” (p. 44-5). While this approach might appear rooted in the CIP learning strategy, it is also employing schema theory in that new vocabulary is being learned in the context of the known concept schema, such as “amount, gain, and loss”. Further, perhaps the schema of ‘peace of mind’ (see the last chart below) was “wired in” to a learner’s brain, but they had not thought of certain verbs as increasing or decreasing peace of mind.