1.2.4 Understanding

1.2.4 Understanding

According to Wikipedia understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.  In other words we can say understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding (Davenport & Prusak, 2000).
Bereiter (2002) defines understanding as one’s abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior. Ackoff (1989) defines it as an interpolative and probabilistic process which means it is cognitive and analytical.  Thefore, understanding can be defined as a process by which we can take knowledge and synthesize new knowledge from the previously held knowledge.
The difference between understanding and knowledge is the difference between "learning" and "memorizing". People who have understanding can undertake useful actions because they can synthesize new knowledge, or in some cases, at least new information, from what is previously known (and understood). That is, understanding can build upon currently held information, knowledge and understanding itself (Ackoff, 1989).
Minsky (2006) relates the concept of understanding with interconnection. He argues “Understanding is the ability to connect a representation to many other representations. If you understand something in only one or two ways, you scarcely understand it at all." It means that we understand things when we have redundant connections and alternative routes, so that when one line of thinking fails, we adopt another rather to stuck or fail.  In other word, understanding is having the correct associations for a given index of concepts. In computer jargon, AI systems possess understanding in the sense that they are able to synthesize new knowledge from previously stored information and knowledge .

For further comprehension please study the influential work known among educationists as Bloom’s Taxonomy which set out a series of levels of cognitive attainment, with Knowledge as the lowest level, followed by Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.