Knowledge organization and domain performance

Jeffrey Nagle Wyatt, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between knowledge organization (thematic and taxonomic) and domain performance in the areas of history and biology. A triad judgment task in both domain general and American history material was administered to all participants. The dataset included students who graduated high school in 2007 and had taken the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, and AP Biology and/or AP U.S. History Exams. In the first two analyses, the predictor variables included ethnicity and the AP Exam taken while the outcome variables were results on the triad judgment task. In the third analysis, the predictor variables were PSAT/NMSQT ® scores and the general triad scores and the outcome variables were the sub-scores from the AP Biology and/or AP U.S. History Exams. The results indicated that participants were more thematic on history material than on general material, and that those students taking the U.S History AP Exam were more thematic on history material than those taking the Biology AP Exam. Additionally, differences by ethnicity were found as White students grouped the history information more thematically then the general information while there were no significant differences for the Asian and Hispanic students. Further results indicated that for AP U.S. History and Biology students a taxonomic orientation toward general material was positively related to exam performance. For the subset of students majoring in biology, a taxonomic orientation on general information was also positively related to Biology AP Exam performance. However, for those majoring in history, a taxonomic orientation toward general information and a thematic orientation toward history information was related to scores on the AP U.S. History Exam. Finally, those students who were thematic on history material and taxonomic on general material attained the highest ability levels (as measured by PSAT/NMSQT ® scores) while those students who were taxonomic on history material and thematic on the general material had the lowest ability.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Wyatt, Jeffrey Nagle, "Knowledge organization and domain performance" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3373836.