Difference Between Knowing and Understanding (With Table)

English is one of the most widely spoken and advanced languages of the world right now. There is however some issues with the way we perceive and use some of the English words. Acquiring knowledge is surely an active process, one would need to not just learn about any fact, they would have to process it and realize the knowledge they gained. Acquiring knowledge is not a time-bound process, from the moment we wake up in the morning, we learn and know things around us, our experiences, incidents, and of course, the academic knowledge we gain all make us better people morally, intellectually, and psychologically. 

Knowing vs Understanding

The difference between knowing and understanding is that “knowing” is being aware of a fact or incident and also acquiring any skill while “understanding” means actually to process and perceive the information we just gained. For example, one may know about quantum physics while they may not actually understand what it is and what are the laws governing it.

Comparison Between Knowing and Understanding

Parameters of comparisonKnowingUnderstanding
DefinitionIt means to acquire a skill or expertise. Also, another definition is being aware of any incident or fact.This means to actually process, and perceive any information or incident. 
TimeIt takes lesser time.It takes a longer time.
Level of depthIt is more superficial.It takes a lot of time to process this at a deeper level.
Mechanism of processingOne does not need to actively use their brain to absorb this information or incidents.One needs to actively use their brain to process and perceive information.

What is “Knowing”?

Knowing can be used as an adjective and as a noun, as an adjective, it means to be aware of any information, incident, or fact or someone doing a deed in full-consciousness. As a noun it means to be aware or informed, for example, he knows all about the corporate jargon. It can also be used as a verb. 

Knowing or the “act of knowing” which is known as knowledge also means to acquire a skill or expertise which they can use or apply later. For example, one may know how to change a light bulb, build a bed, and so on but they may not know the explanation or reason behind it. It is thus a superficial method of attaining knowledge wherein the person may not use their brain in an active manner to actually process and perceive the information they attained. 

According to some articles, there are four major levels of gaining knowledge, and knowledge is just the first part of a long process. This is what makes it really crucial too, one should never stop learning anything only after knowing about that, it often makes the situation worse. Benjamin Bloom was a researcher and professor in the field of education and he established Bloom’s taxonomy for the different levels of understanding. The first part is “Knowledge” to recall the data or information and other learned material, the second tier is “comprehension” which means to understand, explain, grasp the basic information collected.

What is “Understanding”?

Understanding is often the next step after knowing a fact or incident, it is a psychological process. One needs to actively use their brain to process and perceive the idea or incident. Thus it is a longer and deeper process than just knowing. It is an important and crucial point for learners and teachers alike to have a good level of understanding of matter for later implementation and practical examples. 

Benjamin Bloom was a researcher and professor in the field of education and he established Bloom’s taxonomy for the different levels of understanding. The first part is “Knowledge” to recall the data or information and other learned material, the second tier is “comprehension” which means to understand, explain, grasp the basic information collected. The third tier is “application” which is the ability to use and apply the information learned to a new unknown situation. The fourth tier is “Analysis” which includes breaking apart the idea and information and distinguishing between fact and interference. The fifth tier is Synthesis which means to stitched together ideas that are cohesive and can be implemented in real-life situations followed by Evaluation. 

Thus the comprehension level is the actual “understanding” part which means to read, understand and process the information in various forms like description, reports, tables, diagrams, directions, and so on.  Thus understanding is a more psychological process than knowing and it takes more time and effort to understand a matter than to just know it. For example, one may know about the physics behind fluid flow but it is actually more than just fluid flowing from one part to another there are internal stats to it like force, pressure, density and so on which all require a deep understanding of the matter. 

Main Differences Between Knowing and Understanding

  1. Knowing means to be aware of any incident or information. For example, one may know about the stock market and various news about it. Understanding is often the next step and it means that one can intellectually process the information they have just learned about. Following the same example, the experts actually understand the stock markets and even make predictions around them.
  2. Knowing is more superficially and one may not actively perceive the knowledge they just learned. Understanding is on a more deep level process and one needs to actively perceive the knowledge and use their brain to understand it.
  3. It takes more time to understand any information while just knowing about them. 
  4. Understanding is a long process wherein knowing can be a part of it. 
  5. Understanding a fact or information can actually be life-changing while knowing may not be as impactful. 

Conclusion:

Thus the difference between the two is more on a psychological and intellectual part, understanding is a longer and deeper process than just knowing. But both are an intertwined and dependent process where one needs to know about a fact and then understand it with more resources and studies. 

Reference:

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/5c49062868d7dc61e265db1757eebcce/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=27755
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2252119
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