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No Matter How Many Times I Learn It, It Just Won’t Stick



By Christina Beltrán, Flagler College Psychology Intern


One of the most frustrating things that can happen to us while we are learning is our brains not grasping the concept being taught. We sometimes wish we could take mental screenshots or recordings of a certain lecture. Some of us get so frustrated while we are studying, we hope that if we hit our heads with our textbook that the information from the textbook would just transfer into our brains. Unfortunately, this transfer does not work as most of you already know. However, one process that does work in helping you grasp concepts which will serve you better than banging a textbook against your noggin is called Bloom’s Taxonomy.


Made up by an American educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, Bloom’s Taxonomy allows us to gain a greater understanding of subjects we are trying to learn or re-learn. This process helps with not only the learning process but also with developing the depth of thinking skills which is why generations of teachers have been using this with their students. Within this system, Remembering is the lowest level of depth and builds all the way up the highest level which is Creating. To get a better sense of what each of these levels entail, please refer to the diagram as well as the additional descriptions provided. Remember to start from the bottom and work your way up.


Creating → Develop new theories & ideas

Evaluating → Compare theories & ideas

Analyzing → Break down complex concepts

Applying → Use information to solve problems

Understanding → Explain the material to others

Remembering → Straight memorization





Now that you have a better understanding of what each step entails, here are examples of how this process can work. Once again, start from the bottom then move your way up through the levels.


Bloom’s Taxonomy Examples:

Creating: Designing a science fair project to investigate how a plant grows with water (since you know how that works already) vs. how a plant grows with orange juice OR Making examples from your own life

Evaluating: Making an argument based on concrete evidence that eating a small portion of green vegetables every day is better for your health than eating a small portion of Doritos every day OR Deciding what is effective

Analyzing: Comparing and Contrasting the Harry Potter Series vs. Stranger Things [For example: They are both about a young orphan who is fighting against a guy who is bald, does not have a nose, has telekinesis and mind control as powers, and has classmates with blonde hair that are mean to them] OR Noticing the differences in examples

Applying: Solving the average of your GPA after learning how to calculate averages in math class OR Being able to apply examples to the concept

Understand: Writing a short summary of the textbook chapter to explain the concepts learned OR Explaining the concept to someone younger than you

Remember: Using flashcards to help you define your vocabulary words


I know this is a ton of steps but breathe! Everything is going to be ok. With keeping this in mind, it is highly recommended that you try to achieve this deeper level of learning in short study sessions. This ‘spacing effect’ (as called in cognitive psychology) allows for proper consolidation and encoding to take place, meaning that these short sessions as well as the space between them will allow your brain to retain the information better, faster, and more accurately (Goldstein, 2019). Have fun learning!

References

Drew, C. (2023, May 20). All 6 levels of understanding (on Bloom’s taxonomy). Helpful Professor. https://helpfulprofessor.com/levels-of-understanding/

Goldstein, E. B. (2019). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (5th ed.). Cengage Learning.


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