How Chunking Helps You Fit Puzzle Pieces Together While Learning


Lesson Overview

Chunking involves associating scattered pieces of information together into logical and meaningful wholes. In this lesson, you will learn about the idea of chunking and how it helps your brain run more efficiently.

Pause and Think: “Why do some people understand better than others?”

Some people just seem to read and understand perfectly. In fact, these people don’t stop there, sometimes they even explain the topics, concepts or steps better than the books they read it from. We all know that understanding is crucial to learning but it’s easier said than done. Why do some people seem to understand better than others?

How Chunking Helps You Make Sense of Information

You know that feeling you get when you seem to have taken in so much information while studying but nothing seems to make sense. Well, here’s where you need chunking.

Chunking can be described as a mental leap that helps you unite scattered bits of information through meaning. It is a process by which individual pieces of information in your brain are somehow bound together into a meaningful whole.

This new whole that makes some logical sense makes it easier to remember the chunk whenever you need to. Also, it makes it easier to fit the bits of information into the larger picture of what you’re learning.

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For instance, consider two language learners, one who is still quite a novice at using the language, perhaps a child, and the other who has used the language for a number of years, perhaps a young adult and is much more comfortable communicating in the language.

When reading text written in that language, the child would be much slower because she has barely learned how to identify the letters of the language alphabet and thus would have little understanding of what she’s reading.

The man, on the other hand who is more comfortable using the language will find it much easier and faster to call upon his “chunks” and mini-chunks” of words he has used and read overtime while using the language and thus would quickly grasp what he is reading. 

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Why is it important to fit the puzzle pieces together?

It’s not at all helpful to simply memorize a fact without understanding it in the context of the whole subject you’re learning. This is because it becomes difficult to understand what’s really going on or how the concept fits together with other concepts you’re learning.

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Photo Credit: Odyssey

“Chunks” are pieces of information that are bound together through meaning or use. Because you understand how the puzzle pieces fit together, it is easier to remember the entire puzzle as well as each of its pieces.

Lesson Summary

From a neuroscience point of view, a chunk can be described as a network of neurons that are used to firing together so that you think a thought or perform an action smoothly and effectively.

We often forget how difficult it once was to walk from one place to another. As a baby, you put a lot of mental activity into every single step it took to move somewhere. But now, you simply get up and walk without even thinking about it.

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Chunking helps your brain run more efficiently. Moreover, when you’ve chunked an idea, a concept or an action, you don’t need to remember all the other details. You’ve got the main idea, which is the chunk and that’s all you need. 

You learn more effectively when you take advantage of chunking. By a making a consistent effort to associate the bits of information you receive daily together through meaning, you increase your understanding. Chunks help us more easily “transfer” what we’ve learned from one field to another where it’s applicable. As Steve Jobs once famously suggested, “Creativity is just connecting things.”

Happy Learning!

Lesson Discussion

What do you think about the ideas shared in this lesson about chunking? How do you chunk ideas and concepts when learning so that they make meaningful sense to you? Share your thoughts here!

Confused about anything that was mentioned in the lesson? Ask a question!


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