Understanding is greatly valued in higher education. It is more likely to be achieved when lecturers and students agree on what counts as understanding. History and science lecturers' conceptions of understanding were compared with recent history and science graduates' conceptions of understanding. Whilst there was some agreement amongst students and lecturers about the nature of understanding in these subjects, there was the potential for a mismatch of conceptions which could reduce the effectiveness of teaching and the quality of learning. What lecturers and recent graduates saw as support for and evidence of understanding is also described. Clarification of what is to count as understanding in a given context should be amongst the principles for supporting students' learning. Some suggestions are made which could reduce the likelihood of an unnoticed mismatch of conceptions of understanding
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