How to understand something you don't know/cant get

  • Thread starter cs23
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In summary, when encountering problems during studies, one can try different strategies to overcome them. These include reading until one stops understanding and starting again, trying different ways of understanding a concept, using other sources such as the internet or different books, and experimenting with different learning methods. It is also helpful to take a break and come back to the material later, and not being afraid to use supplementary resources like Schaum's Outlines.
  • #1
cs23
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For the engineers, and scientists on here who have encountered problems during their studies, what did you do to overcome them. For example, let say you're reading a textbook and you can't understand what the chapter talks about, what did some of you do to understand the text.

Also, let's say you're looking at a solution to a particular problem and you don't understand a step in the solution what did you do.

Is there a way to figure it out without asking someone?like asking the right questions?
 
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  • #2
most of the time i just post in here on homework help to get a hint. . .
 
  • #3
I was reading a biography of Richard Feynman, and when his sister was around 13 - 16 (I think) he gave her an upper level textbook on physics to read. She told him, I don't understand any of this. And what he told her to do was read until you stop understanding and then start again, this way you'll make it through the entire book.

But what I'd suggest is try other ways of looking at a concept, see what its related to and make sure you understand what the concept is building on.
 
  • #4
If at first you don't succeed...

Keep thinking about it until it makes sense. But don't think about it in the same way as it is presented. Think about it any way you can think of.
 
  • #5
Try another book or source perhaps, the internet is full of information. Different words speak to different people. Maybe one author writes in a way that makes sense to you.

For a lot of problems that I don't understand I keep trying different ways. Often those other ways will lead no where but will tell me something about the problem that will hint towards other ways. Closing the book and looking at it later helps alot. The other day I couldn't solve this problem for the life of me, took a look at it a few days later and was able to solve it almost instantly in my head (well I saw the path in my head)
 
  • #6
Usually I try to read it over and over again for a few days. If that doesn't work, then I go to the campus library and try to find other sources that might help. If THAT doesn't work, I'll try to find some source on the internet that breaks the concept down in the simplest, dumbest terms possible and try to work my way back up. That's what I usually have to do with math concepts that I have a hard time conceptualizing physically like linear algebra or vector calculus in my QM and EM classes.

Also, try to shake up the learning process. Recently, I've experimented with mind-mapping, free-form note-taking (just basically reading a couple pages at a time as quickly as possible and rewriting it with no order whatsoever), and taking audio notes that I can listen to on my long commutes. And sometimes the best thing to do is just move on past the material you can't understand and let subsequent material help you fill in the blanks when you go back.

Lastly, don't be ashamed of using Schaum's Outlines. There's one for pretty much everything and my god, sometimes those things are life-savers.

Just my .02.
 
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1. How can I understand something I don't know?

The first step in understanding something you don't know is to ask questions. This will help you gather information and clarify any confusion you may have. It's also important to break down the concept into smaller, more manageable parts, and try to relate it to something you already know. Additionally, seeking help from a teacher, mentor, or expert in the field can provide valuable insights and guidance.

2. What should I do if I can't understand a concept?

If you are struggling to understand a concept, take a step back and try approaching it from a different angle. Sometimes, using a different learning style or studying in a different environment can make a big difference. It may also be helpful to take a break and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Don't be afraid to ask for help or seek additional resources to aid in your understanding.

3. How can I remember something I don't understand?

Memorization can be a useful tool, but it's not always the most effective way to understand something. Instead of trying to memorize, focus on understanding the underlying concepts and connections. This will not only improve your understanding, but also make it easier to remember the information in the long run. You can also try using mnemonic devices or creating visual aids to help with retention.

4. What if I feel embarrassed or ashamed for not understanding something?

It's completely normal to struggle with understanding certain concepts, and it's important to remember that everyone learns at their own pace. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek help if you need it. Remember, seeking understanding is a sign of intelligence and curiosity, rather than a weakness.

5. How can I overcome the fear of not understanding something?

Fear of not understanding something can be paralyzing and hinder your learning progress. One way to overcome this fear is to change your mindset and see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and embrace the learning process. Also, seeking support and encouragement from others can help build confidence and overcome any fear or anxiety.

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