They were in a cave: Schemas in the recall of Aboriginal English texts

Document Type

Journal Article


TESOL Australia


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications




Sharifian, F., Malcolm, I. G., Rochecouste, J., Konigsberg, P., & Collard, G. (2005). 'They Were in a Cave': Schemas in the Recall of Aboriginal English Texts. TESOL in Context, 15(1), 9. Available here


This paper reports on a study which was conducted to examine a group of non-Aboriginal educators' recall of a set of oral narratives produced by a number of Aboriginal children. A group of Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEOs) also participated as a reference group. Participants listened to the recorded narratives twice and tried to recall each one immediately after listening. They were also given a chance to read a transcript of each narrative and to make comments on their experience after the recall process. The recalls and comments were then transcribed and analysed in terms of the content and formal schemas that they appeared to be associated with. Overall, the results suggest that in some cases participants drew on content schemas that did not seem to be reflected in the original narratives. The results of the formal schema analysis suggest that some participants drew on schemas that relied on chronological ordering of the event and therefore reordered the original narratives in their recall. The paper concludes with a discussion of the educational implications of the findings.

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