Defining Understanding

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There are multiple teaching techniques that an educator can implement during instruction to foster the development of understanding within their students. However, in order to do so, it is imperative that the educator differentiate between "knowing" and "understanding." Essentially, knowing can be illustrated as the ability to restate information, while understanding can be illustrated through one's ability to analyze and interpret information. Though this task is not as clear cut as others, defining the term "understanding" and exploring the cognitive processes it requires can have a dramatic effect on how one structures instruction.


By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Differentiate between "knowing" and "understanding"
  • Examine instructional strategies that promote understanding


For this unit, you will be required to read two articles that I have provided for you below. The first article provides a differentiation between "knowing" and "understanding." The second article I have provided for you examines instructional strategies and techniques that promote understanding.

After you have completed reading these articles you are to write a brief analysis of the main ideas presented in the articles. Though there is no length requirement or limit on this assignment, you should demonstrate a thoughtful analysis of the readings. Please be sure to include ideas from BOTH pieces.

  • In your analysis, reflect on some of the instructional strategies your professors may have utilized in the past. Consider if your professors were targeting understanding or knowledge.

  • When you have completed the readings and your analysis, visit our discussion page to reflect on the ideas or concepts presented in this unit. Please feel free to visit this page at any point throughout your examination of the content presented in this unit to see what your peers have discovered.


Below are the two readings required for this unit.

1) David Perkins and Tina Blythe "Putting Understanding Up Front" Media:Putting_Understanding_Up_Front.pdf

2) Janis Bulgren and David Scanlon "Instructional Routines and Learning Strategies That Promote Understanding of Content Area Concepts"


Perkins, D., Blythe, T. (ND) Putting understanding up front.

Bulgren, J., Scanlon, D. (1997) Instructional routines and learning strategies that promote understanding of content area concepts. Journal of adolescent & adult literacy, 41(4), 292-302. Retrieved from JSTOR. Retrieved from


Advance to Unit Two: Generative Topics in Social Studies

Return to Teaching Socials Studies for Understanding Discussion Space

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