Types of Knowledge

Types of Knowledge

Researchers in cognitive science have theorized that there are several types of knowledge.  Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, who made revisions to Bloom’s Taxonomy (an ordering of cognitive skills), identified four types of knowledge:

(1) factual knowledge

(2) conceptual knowledge

(3) procedural knowledge

(4) metacognitive knowledge

These four types of knowledge refer to the kind of knowledge to be learned.  Basically, knowledge that learners acquire or construct.  This is different from the original Bloom’s Taxonomy that addresses the cognitive process (the process used in acquiring knowledge).

Four Types of Knowledge Defined

Factual Knowledge is the basic elements a learner must know to be acquainted with a subject or solve problems.  It refers to terminology, symbols, vocabulary, events, people, dates, and general sources of information.

Conceptual Knowledge is the interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together.  It refers to classifications, categories, principles, theories, models, or structures that are specific to a subject.  

Procedural Knowledge is a set of directions on how to do something or solve a problem.  It refers to performing skills, methods of inquiry, as well as criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.

Metacognitive Knowledge is the process or strategy of learning and thinking, including awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition.  It refers to the awareness of how one learns and the ability to control, monitor, and regulate one’s own cognitive process.


Levels of Knowledge

These four knowledge types can be grouped and arranged to form levels of knowledge.  Factual and procedural knowledge constitute low level knowledge whereas conceptual and metacognitive constitute higher level knowledge. 

These levels can also be arranged from concrete to abstract starting with factual and working towards the abstract of metacognitive.  Additionally, the first two types (factual and conceptual) constitute knowledge of “what,” while the last two types (procedural and metacognitive) constitute knowledge of “how to.”

 About the Levels of Knowledge


Factual Knowledge

Factual knowledge consists of the basic elements learners must know in order to be familiar with a subject or solve problems.  This is the information that is learned through exposure, repetition, and commitment to memory.  It includes knowledge of terminology and specific facts.


Conceptual Knowledge

Conceptual knowledge consists of the interrelations among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together.  It begins by collecting facts and ideas and grouping them into clusters that represent connectivity. 

This second level of knowledge is formed by discovering facts across different areas and uncovering patterns, similarities or differences between them in order to form an understandings of the corresponding relationships among them.  This type of knowledge is acquired through purposeful and reflective learning.  Through reflection, people make connections and categorize information based on established patterns and principles. 


Procedural Knowledge

Procedural knowledge is information that is needed to accomplish certain tasks, perform actions, and participate in certain activities.  It is typically stored across a time continuum and typically describes the specific skills or algorithms that need to be computed to execute a task.  It includes subject-specific skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods, as well as criteria for deciding when to use the right procedures. 


Metacognitive Knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge refers to what individuals know about themselves as cognitive processors.  It is a person’s awareness and understanding about what and how various factors act and interact to affect their own learning and thinking.  It includes knowing their strengths, weaknesses, and identifying gaps in their knowledge.

Metacognitive knowledge also includes a person’s ability to use previously learned knowledge to plan a strategy, be self-reflective, or understand the world around them. 


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