Unit 1 - Understanding vs. Knowing



Online learning presents a unique set of benefits and challenges, compared to the traditional classroom. Students need to be organized, motivated, and self-regulated to be successful (Meyer, 2003). Assessing online learning presents its own challenges. Online technologies have the potential to go beyond what is possible in a brick and mortar classroom, if used correctly, and emphasis should be placed on problem based learning, as well as the methods of assessment (Rovai, 2000). Before delving into assessment methods though, let's first look at how we want students to learn and what we want to assess. In this course, we want to answer this question:

Knowingquestion.jpg How does knowing differ from understanding, and how can we assess for understanding in online courses?

Discussion Activity

Knowingclick.jpgBefore going further, please click on the discussion tab at the top of this page. Put down your thoughts, briefly, on this question: What is the difference, if any, between knowing and understanding?

Multiple Intelligences Video

Next, please click on the link below to watch this short video on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. While watching, think about what Gardner is saying about retention of information - understanding, rather than knowing.

Knowingclick.jpg http://www.youtube.com/embed/iYgO8jZTFuQ

Knowing vs. Understanding

Knowing understanding.jpg

According to Perkins and Blythe (1994), knowing includes simply producing the knowledge or demonstrating the skill on demand. Understanding is a bit more complex. It includes being able to do a variety of things with the topic, including "explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, analogizing, and representing the topic in a new way."

It is easy to assess knowing by asking questions that simply test a student’s recall of a concept. This includes questions such as definitions, vocabulary, and other facts. Unfortunately, in an online course, a student generally has access to their course materials and the internet, and can easily answer such questions with little effort or knowledge. Because of this, it becomes necessary to test for understanding instead.

To read the full article, please click on this link: http://www.learner.org/workshops/socialstudies/pdf/session2/2.UnderstandingUpFront.pdf


Here are two examples, from a Latin course - one question checking for knowing, and the other for understanding. The first question asks for a definition, which the student could simply look up in the back of their textbook. The second question, however, asks the student to use the information they have learned, showing that they understand the concept. We will look more at multiple choice questions in Unit 3.

What does the word puella mean?

a. boy

b. girl

c. man

d. woman

Which word is the subject of this sentence? Puellae in agrīs nōn iam currunt.

a. Puellae

b. in

c. agrīs

d. currunt

Discussion Revisited

Knowingclick.jpgAfter completing Unit 1, go back to your discussion post by clicking on the Discussion tab at the top of the page. In the second section, please add any further pertinent information you have learned from this course that was not reflected in your original post.

Continue to Unit 2 - Assessment Questions and Bloom's Taxonomy

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