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Levels of Teaching- Memory, Understanding & Reflective Level

Levels of Teaching- Memory, Understanding & Reflective Level

Levels of Teaching

memory understanding reflective level

Teaching and learning process is closely related to each other and regarded as one single concept. On classroom same content is taught at different levels because it has its own structure. The learning conditions and learning objectives fall on the continuum.

So teaching learning situations may be classified according to the place where they fall on the continuum, which ranges from thoughtless to most thoughtful mode of operations.

Morris L. Biggie has classified teaching learning process into three levels which are as follows:

  1. Memory level
  2. Understanding level
  3. Reflective level

Memory Level of Teaching

In this level of teaching content, presentation and its exercise is important aspect for promotion of learning. Emphasis is given on the presentation of information and facts in a systematic manner with a view to develop memory of the students. At this level, recall and recognition has important place. Here mind of learner’s is considered as container of information.

Features of memory level

  • Analysis of the subject matter is more important in this level of teaching. Much emphasis is given on the presentation of subject matter and not the experience of the students.
  • Definite and systematic order of subject matter is presented in this level of teaching.
  • Teachers are not very flexible in the presentation of subject matter.
  • The mechanical handling of the various segments of content.
  • Learning outcomes is of short duration.
  • Interaction between teacher and students is at the lowest level.

Model of Memory Level of Teaching

Professor Herbert originated model of teaching having five important aspects which are- focus, syntax, social system, support system and evaluation system.


At this level aims of teaching are as follows:

  • To train the mental discipline of the student.
  • To acquire factual information.
  • To retain the learnt material for longer time.
  • To recall or to produce and recognize the learnt material.

The structure of the model is developed with the help of five formal steps which are known as paradigm of teaching. These are as follows:

  • Preparation- Important function of this step is to bring into consciousness, relevant ideas of the subject matter. The teacher plans about presentation of the contents.
  • Presentation- At this step, new ideas or new knowledge of the content is imparted in such a way that it may be linked with earlier knowledge of the students.
  • Comparison- In this level, teaching attempts to compare old facts and new facts, its similarities and dissimilarities.
  • Generalisation- In this step, teacher generates the situation so that students may be able to indicate the similarity of elements of new ideas and knowledge. The rhythm and recitation are used at this level.
  • Application- At this level, teacher creates the situation so that students may use the memorized facts for the further facts. The mathematical tables are used in multiplication and division.
Support system

This system requires some supportive devices to make learning more effective. More meaning full material should be used to present at this level the subject matter should be made definite in its structure. The audio visual aids may be used to involve the students. The content should be specified and present in an observable form.

Social system

This system consist of authoritarian behaviour. The teacher is more active and his main act is to construct and present the subject matter systematically and logically in the classroom. The learners are passive listener only and they have to memorize and reproduce the content and their activities are directed by the teacher. At this level teacher provides motivation through verbal praise and punishment, if the learner is motivated or reinforced continuously then they learn better.

Evaluation system

It is important aspect of teaching because it produces evidences about the realization of goals of teaching. Usually oral tests are given to measure the retention of learnt material. The objective tests of recall and recognition type are administered to evaluate the knowledge of the students.

Suggestions for Memory Level Teaching

  • Frequent recall or reproduction of content should be practiced.
  • The fatigue factor should be avoided in the presentation.
  • Whole to part method should be used.
  • The content should have definite structure.
  • Teaching content should be integrated.
  • Contents should be presented systematically.
  • Continuous reinforcement should be provided to the students.
  • Students’ retention can be increased by practice.

Understanding Level of Teaching

Understanding level of teaching seeks to acquaint the students with the relationship and solitary facts which show the principles may be applied. The teacher tries to keep his introduction on an understanding level. If he succeeds, his students will be able to identify cases in which a given rule applies and then use the rule as a guide.

Understanding or comprehension means mastery of the content.  Morrison explains that understanding is watching relationship and reaching certain generalisations and their uses that each subjects should be divided into units and units should be taught thoroughly till the students understand it clearly.

Models of Understanding Level of Teaching

It is known as Morrison’s model of teaching. According to him, the paradigm of teaching is as follows:


The main focus of this type of teaching is to have the mastery over the concept. This model is idea-centered. It provides substantial knowledge.


The structure of understanding level involves 5 steps which are as follows:

  1. Exploration-
    • It involves testing, questioning, to explore initial learning of the students. It provides apperceptive sequence for teacher to start the chapter.
    • It intends to assist teacher to arrange subject matter into psychological sequence.
    • The role of exploration is orientation of teacher to decide how a new unit should be presented.
  2. Presentation- It involves 3 activities:
    • The teacher presents the new content into small units and attempts to maintain continuous rapport with the students in the class.
    • The teacher tests the student to diagnose how many students have grasped the presented content.
    • If necessary the presentation is repeated, the teacher should not proceed toward the new unit until most of the students fully understand. Thus, at this stage teacher is more active.
  3. Assimilation
    • The purpose of this step is to attain thorough knowledge of the subject matter.
    • At this step both student and teacher are active but students become more active, they do lot of work in library, laboratory, field work, assignments and also consult source materials.
    • Students work at this step is highly individualized.
    • A mastery test is also administered at the end of assimilation. If students cannot pass the test them they are asked for further assimilation.
  4. Organisation- This step provides an apperceptive sequence when students’ have passed mastery test then they move towards the organisation step. Following observations are included in this step-
    • In this step the student determines what content has to be written. Morrison states that “the student receives mastery when he is able to write down the presented content and the assimilated data clearly”.
    • This step is specially essential in subjects of extensive content which include a large no. of elements in one learning unit.
  5. Recitation- Following activities are included in this step:
    • Each student presents the content orally before the teacher.
    • Morrison plans daily recitation for this step.
    • Recitation may take the form of written paper.
Social system

At this step teacher should be more active to see that he should not be authoritarian. He has to act as a leader of the group and he has to guide and motivate the students only. Their effort should discover the facts. Teacher’s behaviour should be flexible, dynamic and full of human touch. A teacher should have full faith in the learners.

The source of motivation at this level of teaching is not only extrinsic but also intrinsic and personal involvement of teacher is also necessary. The teacher’s main act is to create need and interest among students to acquire understanding of new concepts. Here teacher can raise the level of aspiration of students as well as class as a whole.

Support system-

This step is helpful to make this model more effective so that goals may be achieved. The teaching aids should be used at presentation stage. It may not be repeated several times, the audio-visual aids and other devices may be used for an effective presentation. This system is much more useful at assimilation stage. The subject matter can be gathered from various sources. The programmed instruction material may be provided to the learner because this stage is highly individualized. The learners should be given an opportunity to practice the learnt materials according to their own efforts.

Evaluation system

The organisation and recitation provides evidence about the effectiveness of this model. The essay and objective type tests are used for evaluating the results of this model. The multiple choice and analogy type item are best items for evaluating the understanding of the students.

Suggestions for Understanding level of Teaching

  • Teacher should move towards understanding level of teaching when the student pass out memory level.
  • The teacher should give the test of the presentation to know the next step of assimilation, after this he should move-towards organisation or recitation step. In other words, these steps should be followed systematically.
  • Teacher should have personal environment in teaching and the subject to be taught.
  • Teacher should also provide psychological motivation to the students and raise their level of aspiration.
  • Teacher should identify the problems of organisation and presentation and provide solutions of the problems.

Reflective Level of Teaching

This level of teaching is problem centered in nature in which the learner is engaged in original imagination and critical thinking. At this level the learner examines fact and generalizes new one. Memory and understanding level of teaching of the content are one pre-requisite for this level of teaching.

According to Biggie’s reflective level of teaching tends to develop the classroom atmosphere which is more alive and existing and more critical. The classical experiment for learning theory conducted by Kohler throws light on the process of problem solving. Reflective level of learning occurs only when there is a problem in the situation in context of education the student examines the facts and generalization to solve the problem. The classroom teaching at this level requires active participation of the students.

Models of Reflective Level of Teaching

  • To develop the ability of problem solving.
  • To develop the critical and creative thinking among students.
  • To enable the students for original thinking.

It is based on the nature of teaching and at this step problems are solved. Here problem may be of two types:

  • Dewey’s problematic situation
  • Kurtlewin’s problematic situation

Dewey’s Problematic Situation

It is related to personal problem, which occurs in two situations:

  1. When a student tries to achieve his goal and he finds obstacles in his path and getting on alternative path to overcome the obstacles, thus a personal problematic situation is evolved before the learner. Here he will learn by solving it using his own insight. It is known as non-path situation.
  2. When a student has two equally alternative goals. He has problem to choose one either of the two goals. This type of situation creates tension in the learner and personal problematic situation is generated before the learner, the student makes effort to find out the solution by using his original thinking and ability.

Kurtlewin’s Problematic Situation

According to Kurtlewin, every learner has his own goal and this goal controls his behaviour. He has a field and his life’s space where his nature is psychological and social. The situation of both creates tension in the minds of the students. In reflective teaching the main task of a teacher is to create a problematic situation before the learner and he has to formulate tentative solutions for the problem. Here teacher has to encourage the learner to have more than one hypothesis for the problems, after that the verification of the hypothesis. On the basis of testing hypothesis, conclusions are drawn. These conclusions are the original thinking of the learner.

Social system

The teacher should be creative, tactful and insightful and should be able to create a problematic situation. The role of the teacher is to assist the learners and make them active to evolve the problem, the learner should also be very active to find out the solution of the problem by objective and empirical procedure, the self-motivation and level of aspiration are the sources of motivation at this level.

Support system

This step is much important to make the teaching more effective. The learner should be helped by social awareness and social values to feel the need of the problem. He should be encouraged to formulate as many hypothesis as possible. This is only possible by the personal involvement and high level of aspiration. The learner students should be oriented to collect the evidences for the verification of the hypothesis. This will lead in drawing the conclusion regarding the problem.

Evaluation system

The workability of the teaching is difficult to measure, the effect of teaching at this level, the written test should be used to measure higher level of cognition. The essay type tests are the test devices to evaluate the result of reflective level of teaching. The other techniques should be used to measure the environment in the problem, attitudes, adjustment and critical thinking of the learner.

Suggestions for Reflective level of Teaching

  • It should be only recognized when the learners have passed the memory and understanding level test.
  • The learner should be sensitive for the problem and teacher should create the need of the problem.
  • Teacher should raise the level of aspiration of students for the involvement in the problem.
  • Teacher should create problematic situation which may develop the original and critical thinking of the learner.
  • The student should feel about the problem so that they may formulate the hypothesis of the problem.
  • The learner should be objective in collecting the evidences for the problem.
  • The learner should be given freedom to think independently.

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