Module 4: Beyond Information to Understanding and Application
Upon completion of this module the learner will be equipped to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the three levels of the cognitive domain.
- Evaluate application of teaching to these levels.
- Use questions that engage the learner in each level of the cognitive domain.
Biblical information makes up the basic building blocks for spiritual learning. This information must be understood and applied in order for a Christlike character to be built upon its foundation.
Teaching Bible information
Teachers first must master their subject matter. The Bible is a treasure to be mined by sinking deep the shaft of inquiry. The teacher who continues to furnish the mind with vital information will be enthusiastic about teaching. The domains of faith and action will be influenced by teachers who are passionate about their subject matter. Imperfect knowledge will be reflected in imperfect teaching.
In early Adventist Sabbath Schools most of the time was spent by members reciting memorized portions of Scripture. There is great value in memorizing Scripture without applying it. The teacher cannot require nor encourage class members to acquire too much basic biblical information; however, some neglect to understand and apply those facts.
The teacher must help members understand Bible facts. To do this the teacher must receive feedback in order to know what the student understands about the subject. Authorities in education know that “not what the speaker expresses from his own mind, but what the hearer understands and reproduces in his mind, measures the communicating power of the language used” (John Milton Gregory, The Seven Laws of Teaching [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977, p. 56]).
Continual dialogue with all the class members is essential in order to know their level of comprehension and understanding. Members must understand and apply Bible facts in order to grow spiritually.
Suppose the teacher asks: “What is written on the foreheads of the 144,000?” The student may answer: “The name of the Father.” The teacher may say, “Well, you are partially correct. The Greek text says, ‘Having his name [referring back to the Lamb] and the Father’s name.’ ”
This kind of exercise can be helpful, but what spiritual benefit is derived unless the member also understands that in the Bible “name” is synonymous with character and goes on to make application to his/her life? The teacher must ask questions to determine the degree of understanding and facilitate discussion that will qualify and apply knowledge.
Even when evaluating and qualifying understanding, it is best not to ask questions that can be answered by rote answers. For example, suppose the teacher should ask: “In the Bible a person’s name is synonymous with what?” Some could answer “character” by rote.
It would be better to ask, “What does it mean to have the name of the Lamb and of the Father written on the forehead?” Then when members answer and discuss, the teacher can lead them to quality understanding and application.
Let’s dig a bit deeper and wider into this subject.
Even if class members manifest an understanding of what it means to have the name of the Lamb and the Father written on the forehead, they may not apply the meaning to life. The teacher can simply ask, “How does this apply to our situation?”
More creative approaches: Share a life situation and ask members to apply their understanding to the situation. Tell an experience and ask members to determine whether or not the names of the Lamb and of the Father were manifest in this experience.
For example, the teacher can tell about her very frustrating day with an intense schedule following lack of sleep, and experiencing a long line at a convenience store with malfunctioning gas pumps. The teacher tells of praying in order to manifest the spirit of Jesus and of the cashier remarking that the teacher has a wonderful expression of peace and saying, “You must be having a wonderful day.” The teacher can ask, “Is this a manifestation of having the name of the Lamb and of the Father written on the forehead?”
The discussion that follows will involve qualification, feedback, understanding, and application. For example, the discussion may start with whether or not facial expressions have anything to do with the Bible passage. Then the discussion would drive members back to a biblical understanding of character and how character is expressed.
While dealing with knowing, understanding, and applying facts, the teacher must also teach in a manner that will awaken interest, foster belief, develop love, model action, initiate practice, and establish habits. The next two modules will talk teachers through how to accomplish this.
This evaluation is designed for you to assess your own level of knowledge and practice. It may also be helpful to ask anonymous class members to evaluate you.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
1. Teacher obviously masters knowledge and understanding of the biblical portions of each lesson taught.
5. Teacher asks few questions that can be answered by rote.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 106. Teacher uses life situations to evaluate levels of knowledge, understanding and application.
Total Possible: 100 Your Score:
(Total the numbers marked or circled for each question.)
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists