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Grasping the Concept

Updated on December 2, 2012

Mike's Common Sense

In college I was a psychology major. The toughest course we had to take was Experimental Psychology. I was intimidated from day one. I went to every class, I took copious notes, I sat in front (the professor was Japanese and hard to understand), I read all of the required chapters, and I high lighted all of the important terms, facts, and data. On our first big test I scored a whopping 38! Needless to say I was shocked and full of despair about passing this class.

Out of desperation I went to talk with the professor during his office hours that week. Dr Ashida was very nice and personable and tried to put me at ease. When I explained to him that I had worked very hard in his class I scored only a 38 on his first test. He said "Em, everybody do bad on that test, do not feel bad." Then he said "How did you prepare for the test?" I then told him all of the things I had done to try to be successful in his class. "Open your book to Chapter 4." I opened my book and Dr. Ashida could see all of the high lighted marks on the pages. "Why do you high light in your book like that?" he asked. "I do it to help me remember the important terms, and facts I need to know when I study" I replied. "You are missing the point here about learning. To learn you need to read the whole chapter and understand the concept. Once you grasp the concept, all of the terms, and facts will come to you naturally as you explain the concept. Do you understand?"

I did understand. I tried doing it Dr. Ashida's way and he was right. After Dr Ashida taught me how to study, I never high-lighted anything ever again. I learned to grasp the main concept and not to worry about the small stuff. Tests got easier because I knew what I was talking about; and I got an A in Experimental Psych. His teaching helped me throughout my college career, and in any learning situation I found myself in.

We hope it helps you too.


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    • muley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      8 years ago from Miami,FL

      Ah my brother the teacher chimes in. Terms, and facts are nothing more than gross memorization and are what most teachers grade their tests on. These are your so called (and I agree with you) lazy teachers. Gross memorization is not understanding, and is quickly forgotten. Real teachers know that the whole is greater than the sum of it parts; and they want you to understand the whole concept and not just the terms and facts, or pieces of the whole. Once you grasp a concept it stays with you much longer, and you can always regurgitate the terms as you explain that concept. This is what Dr. Ashida taught me, and that I have tried to pass on to others.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Understanding what your teacher is looking for is imperitive when it comes to grades. Some teachers are detail people others are looking for real understanding. Lazy teachers want details, real teachers demand understanding.

      Get my point? If you understand, please explain it to me in your own words.

      Hooray for Dr. Ashida

    • muley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      8 years ago from Miami,FL

      Hi Tony good to see you again! Dr Ashida was indeed a very special person. WWII Vet for the Japanese, he was in Hiroshima 6 hours after the blast to help others, and he was US Olympic judo coach for many years. Thanks for stopping by.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Dr Ashnida was a wise teacher indeed. Thanks for sharing this interesting story.

      Love and peace


    • muley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      8 years ago from Miami,FL

      Hi Adnohr! I hope I helped others as Dr.Ashida did me so many years ago. Wisdom, like love is wasted if not given to others.

    • Adnohr profile image


      8 years ago from Canada

      And now you have probably helped others, as Dr. Ashida helped you, Muley, by writing this post. I can remember getting very high marks in elementary school because I could memorize, and it was what the teacher's wanted. Then I was rudely awakened in high school by our English Lit professor, who was like your Dr. Ashida. I hated him with a teenager's passion until I realized he was showing me how important it was to use my OWN mind.

    • muley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      8 years ago from Miami,FL

      Hi Violet! Better to learn late than never. I don't know how I would have fared in Exp.Psych without Dr. Ashida's wise words.

    • VioletSun profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Wish I had met Dr.Ashida or someone like him as psychology was also my major, and I did very poorly with statistical psychology, and yes, I am a highlighter. Thanks for sharing the tip, makes a lot of sense! It can be used at any stage of our lives as there is always something to learn.

    • muley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      8 years ago from Miami,FL

      Hi AlexK nice to meet you! It may have taken a while, but at least you learned to concentrate on the whole. If not for Dr. Ashida I might never have learned.

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Fantastic teacher you had. It took me a while to leanr that for my self, get the big picture and concept right and the rest falls into place.


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