Memory is a fundamental tool in the learning process. We are taught from a young age to develop our memorization skills. However, there is a significant difference between memorizing something and learning it. True learning does not occur until we are able to understand information then apply what we believed we have learned to a new situation or experience.
The following chart outlines the major differences between memorizing and understanding.
Limits learning of ideas and concepts to word for word recall.
Converts ideas and concepts into own words.
Limits ability to generate insight or creative ideas.
Creates a basis for generating insights and creative syntheses.
Limits learning to actual words recalled.
Advances the depth of learning.
Inability to deduce or induce.
Develops insights that come from deduction or induction.
Has trouble seeing beyond the basic concept or idea.
Can see meaning, effects, results, consequences beyond the basic idea or concept.
Difficult to explain ideas to someone else other than word for word.
Able to use own words to explain something clearly to someone else.
Difficult to see how ideas apply in real-life situations.
Can apply ideas to real life situations.
Relevance of ideas outside the classroom is difficult to see.
Ability to seek connections between knowledge learned in classroom and the outside world.
Does not see differences, similarities, and implications of ideas.
Can identify differences, similarities between ideas and implications of these ideas.
Interprets ideas literally.
Realizes that there can be figurative as well as literal interpretations of ideas.
Strives for rote learning and has trouble solving problems when numbers or components are changed.
Strives for understand and can solve problems even when numbers or components are changed.
Believes there is one right answer to every question.
Accepts that there may be more than 1 “right” answer to a question depending on circumstances.