Rote Learning Vs. Meaningful Learning S.Raja kumar, M.Sc(Bot)., M.Sc(Psy).,M.Ed.,M.Phil.,SET(Edn)., PGDGC Assistant Professor GRT College of Education, Tiruttani, Tamilnadu

Rote learning vs meaningful learning

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Page 1: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

Rote Learning Vs.

Meaningful Learning

S.Raja kumar, M.Sc(Bot)., M.Sc(Psy).,M.Ed.,M.Phil.,SET(Edn)., PGDGC

Assistant ProfessorGRT College of Education, Tiruttani, Tamilnadu

Page 2: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Rote learning can be defined as a memorization technique based on repeating the material again and again till you get through with it and begin to memorize.

• The idea behind the rote learning is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it. Some of the alternatives to rote learning include meaningful learning, associative learning, and active learning.

• Rote learning is generally based on only repeating of the topics, and not the clear understanding of the topics. Rote learning methods are generally used when quick memorization is required, such as learning one's lines in a play or memorizing a telephone number, also some students opt for rote learning instead of meaningful learning method with the clear understanding of the subject.

• Rote learning is widely used in the mastery of foundational knowledge.

Page 3: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Meaningful learning on the other hand refers to the concept of learning the subject or topic with the clear understanding of all the related facts. When learned by meaningfully, the learned knowledge is fully understood by the individual and he also knows well how that specific fact relates to other stored facts in his brain. For understanding this concept, it is good to contrast meaningful learning with the much less desirable, rote learning. Rote learning is the method where you memorize something without full understanding and you don't know how the new information relates to your other stored knowledge.

Page 4: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

Rote Learning• Rote learning as discussed earlier involves exactly

memorization. Remembering a particular phone number, dates, and names are examples of rote learning. Repeating material again and again helps a learner recall it exactly as it was presented.

• Meaningful learning on the other hand is tied and related and integrated to previous learning. Needless to say meaningful learning is generally more powerful and interesting.

• Rote learning does not give you any meaningful learning experience and you are not sure of utilizing that information for some practical use.

• Rote learning is like singing along with a sing playing on your I-pod or radio and after a couple of times you start to pick up interesting lines and slowly you realize that you have learned the whole song.

Page 5: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

Some other examples of rote learning may include:• School topics where rote learning is frequently used include

phonics in reading and especially fill up at the time of test.• The periodic table in chemistry, you cannot have reason for

every element placement in the table, hence most of the time students end up cramming the position of elements in the periodic table.

• Multiplication tables in mathematics, that most of the students learn by rote methodology.

• Anatomy in medicine, there is no reason for the general human anatomy and you cannot find any other memorization technique for the anatomy. Hence only technique left is by rote method.

• Cases or luggage's

Page 6: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Some basic since formulae, you cannot find reason for every small formula that you have to use in a subject. For example a simple formulae for momentum is p = mv which has a long two page derivation. If a student goes on learning all these derivations he would not be in a state to learn anything else for his examination.

Page 7: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Rote learning avoids comprehension, so by itself it is an ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level.

• Though, it may be a good tool for just memorizing something or the other, but not if you need to utilize that information for some practical purpose.

• For instance, one illustration of Rote learning can be observed in preparing quickly for exams, a technique which may be colloquially referred to as "cramming". Cramming may sometimes help you score decent grades sometimes but not every time.

• Also it is a fact that cramming won’t help you out in long run. Every topic that is being taught has its bigger significance somewhere in future, and at that time you end up with no information left in your brain.

Page 8: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Talking about studies, rote learning finds some usefulness by students in math and science. Rote methods are often used, for example to memorize formulas or tables.

• There is greater understanding if students commit a formula to memory through exercises that use the formula rather than through rote repetition of the formula. But most of the students find it quite useful to just cram the periodic table position, formula or tables in mathematics as understanding of these topics my involve a lot of explanation and derivation work, that may become really complex and awkward for a student.

• Standards always recommend that students derive formulas themselves to achieve the best understanding and utilization. Nothing can faster than rote learning if a formula is to be learned quickly for an important test and rote methods can be helpful for committing an understood fact to memory.

•  However, it is often observed that students who learn with understanding are really clear with all the facts and are conveniently able to transfer their knowledge to tasks requiring problem-solving with greater success than those who learn only by rote.

Page 9: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

Meaningful Learning

• Meaningful learning is very important form the student point of view. Meaningful learning in today's competitive world holds the key to success.

• These days it is not just your grades that matter to be successful; it is something more than that. These days in interview you are tested on your practical skills and practical knowledge before looking at your result cards.

• Once you clear your interview level based on knowledge and facts, then only you are asked about your grades and qualifications. Hence proper knowledge is must for anyone to be successful these days. Developing a capability of 'learning to learn' and higher-level thinking skills is a life-long practice and must be hones on a continual basis.

Page 10: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Meaningful learning helps us a lot in fact our brain is designed for meaningful learning only. Our brain works in an associative way and our memory serves us in a chained structure. Existing knowledge acts as mental block for new learning to occur.

• Once we learned something by meaningful method with full clarity, we are able to relate that knowledge with every relevant piece of information about that topic in our brain and possess a confidence of utilizing that information properly in our profession also.

• People displaying memory skill often contend that by establishing a visual relationship between seemingly disconnected or unrelated objects or numerals, their retention is enhanced. Hence it would not be wrong to say that we do learn a lot by the process of watching something happen in practical rather than just cramming it theoretically.

Page 11: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

Some suggestions on how to ensure meaningful learning:

• Make sure what you learn is in your proximal zone.• Highlight more on the application rather than just learning.• Make sure you have proper reason for everything that you are learning.• If there is any doubt, ask your teacher how some new knowledge is related to

other course material.• Have a study partner ask you questions that require recall of related material.• Try to make some effective memorization points to remember the things that you

have learned.• Strictly avoid cramming as far as possible, even for some basic formulas that you

may find easy to just cram.• Make a figure that illustrates what you should know about a specific topic and its

related material.• Don not mix up the things by picking up multiple topics at same time. You may be

good in multi-tasking but that won’t work in the case of learning.

Page 12: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

• Human mind is generally very good at meaningful learning compared to rote learning. It is worth noting that computers are good at replicating people aren't. So, if you are teaching facts it is very obvious that the repetition is a part of the program.

• If you choose to teach meaningful material then you will need a different strategy for effective teaching. Meaningful material cannot be learned immediately. Meaningful learning requires clarification of all the facts and doubts related to the topic.

• Once a concept or principle is learned it needs to be strengthened. That comes with practicing, remember practice, not cramming. Strengthening involves relating the material to other ideas some of those already in your mind, it also involves summary; it involves stretching an ideas to see how they connect.

• This strengthening process increases the new material's distinctness; it creates new dimensions and prevents the material from becoming absorbed by what was previously known, although mind is in a state to relate this newly gained information with the previous information relating to the topic. This distinctness will make the material retrievable and applicable to new circumstances.

Page 13: Rote learning vs meaningful learning


• Rote memorization is a means to an end, there is no replacement to effecting learning techniques. It is nit that rote learning is a total waste, but there should be limit and reason.

• Rote method should only be used in at selected levels and cases only. For example, memorizing the times tables is a perfect example of a useful application of rote memorization, but clear understanding of the concepts of multiplication is also very important, simple memorization of the times tables is not going to get one very far in real life. 

• Parents and educators need to be wary of situations in which a child may have memorized a bunch of information that he / she doesn’t actually understand.

• It would be really helpful for students in the long run if teachers and trainers lay more emphasis in the meaningful learning techniques and try to keep away cramming and rote learning methods.

Page 14: Rote learning vs meaningful learning

•Thank u