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Four types of knowledge

Research and theory in cognitive science have shown that there may be several kinds
of knowledge. four major categories of knowledge based on a taxonomy of learning
outcomes (Anderson et al., 2001):

The first two types—factual and conceptual— constitute knowledge of ‘‘what’’, and
the last two types—procedural and metacognitive—constitute knowledge of
‘‘how to’’.

Similarly, factual and procedural knowledge constitute low level knowledge

whereas conceptual and metacognitive constitute high level knowledge.

1. Factual knowledge

Factual knowledge consists of ‘‘the basic elements students must know to be

acquainted with a discipline or solve problems in it’’. It includes knowledge of
terminology and specific facts. For example, within an adventure game, students may
learn that China is in Asia, or from the instructions of a game, students may learn
that ‘‘start-up disk’’ refers to a 3.5-inch square disk that fits in a disk drive.

Subtype Examples

Knowledge of terminology Technical vocabulary

Factual Knowledge -discrete,
isolated content elements Knowledge of specific details and
Ten biggest cities in the world

2. Conceptual knowledge

Conceptual knowledge consists of ‘‘the interrelations among the basic elements

within a larger structure than enable them to function together’’ (Anderson et al.,
2001, p. 29). It includes knowledge of categories, principles, and models. For
example, students may learn principles such as ‘‘add s to make a noun plural’’ from a
word game, or students may form a mental model of how a word process or works.

Knowledge of classifications and

Forms of business ownership
Conceptual Knowledge
Knowledge of principles and
-interrelationships among the basic Newton's laws of motion
elements within a larger structure
Knowledge of theories, models, and The quantum theory, the structure of
structures Congress
3. Procedural knowledge

Procedural knowledge consists of knowing ‘‘how to do something, methods of inquiry,

and criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods’’ (Anderson et al.,
2001, p. 29). It includes knowing procedures, techniques, and methods as well as the
criteria for using them. For example, students may learn how to add signed numbers
within a math game, or may learn the steps for logging onto a computer system.

Skills used in painting with watercolors,

Knowledge of subject-specific skills and
algorithm for finding the greatest common
divisor of two numbers
Procedural Knowledge
-knowledge of how to do something Scientific method, using recursion as a
and criteria for using skills, Knowledge of subject-specific
problem-solving technique in computer
algorithms, techniques, and techniques and methods
Criteria used to determine when to apply a
Knowledge of criteria for determining
procedure involving Newton's second law of
when to use appropriate procedures

4. Metacognitive knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge consists of ‘‘knowledge of cognition in general as well as

awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition’’ (Anderson et al., 2001, p. 29). It
includes knowing strategies for how to accomplish tasks, knowing about the demands
of various tasks, and knowing one’s capabilities for accomplishing various tasks. For
example, students learn general heuristics for how to operate computer programs or
gain skill in ascertaining the difficulty of learning various computer games.

Knowledge of outlining in order to capture the

Strategic knowledge structure of the presented information,
knowledge of the use of heuristics
Metacognitive Knowledge
-knowledge about cognition in Knowledge of the types of tests administered
general and awareness of one's Knowledge about cognitive tasks by instructors, knowledge of the cognitive
own cognition demands of different tasks
Knowledge that writing essays is a personal
Self-knowledge strength, awareness of one's own level of
knowledge and skills

Research and theory in cognitive science have shown that human cognition can be
analyzed into cognitive processes. six categories of cognitive processes based on
a taxonomy of learning outcomes

5. EVALUATE, and

The first category—remember—corresponds to tests of retention, whereas the other

five categories correspond to tests of transfer. Thus, an important feature of the
taxonomy is that it
provides a means of assessing the cognitive processes underlying transfer.

1. Remember

Remember refers to ‘‘retrieving relevant knowledge from long term memory’’

. It includes recognizing (such as identifying a piece of information that corresponds
to knowledge in long-term memory) and recalling (such as finding relevant
knowledge in long-term memory).

Category Cognitive Processes and Action Assessment Formats


Recognizing- comparing knowledge from long- True-false; Multiple choice; Matching

term memory with presented information. items from two lists
Remember - Sample learning outcome verbs may include:
retrieve identify, recognize, select, label, arrange, order,
relevant repeat, copy, duplicate, match, associate.
knowledge Recalling - retrieving knowledge from long-term Questions vary depending on the extent
from long-term memory when presented with a question. of providing hints and being placed
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: recall, within a larger context
memory locate, retrieve, list, name, reproduce, state,
describe, cite, recite, define, quote.

2. Understand

Understand refers to ‘‘constructing meaning from instructional messages’’. It

includes interpreting (such being able to express presented information in another
form), exemplifying (such as being able to give an example of a concept or principle),
classifying (such as determining that something belongs to a category), summarizing
(such as abstracting a general theme or major point), inferring (such as drawing a
logical conclusion from presented material), comparing (such as detecting similarities
and differences between two or more
things), and explaining (such as describing a cause-and-effect model of a system).
Interpreting - moving from one form of Construct or selecting given information
representation to another. in a different form (e.g. transforming a
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: verbal representation of a system into a
represent, interpret, clarify, paraphrase, reproduce, use-case diagram)
change, modify, convert, transform, translate,
restate, rewrite, quantify.
Exemplifying - finding a specific example of a Asking the student to give a constructed
concept or principle. or selected example
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: give
example, illustrate.
Classifying - placing something in category. Asking a student to pair an instance with
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: group, a concept, principle, or category
categorize, classify.

Understand - Summarizing - synthesizing general points. Asking a student to produce a theme or

Sample learning outcome verbs may include: summary when presented with an
construct summarize, generalize, synthesize, assemble, information
meaning from combine, compile, integrate, consolidate.
oral, written, Inferring - drawing a logical conclusion from the Completion tasks - complete a series;
and graphic presented information. Analogy tasks - complete an analogy;
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: Oddity tasks - determining which of
communication extrapolate, interpolate, predict, conclude, infer, several items does not belong to a list
Comparing - detecting correspondences between Mapping - showing correspondence
two or more entities. between respective parts of two entities
Sample learning outcome verbs may include:
compare, contrast, map, match, correlate.
Explaining - constructing a cause-and-effect model Reasoning - offering a reason for a given
of a system. event; Troubleshooting - diagnosing the
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: problem in a malfunctioning system;
sequence, explain, diagnose, troubleshoot, repair, Redesigning - making changes in a
redesign, predict, prescribe. system to accomplish some goal;
Predicting - determining what effect a
change in one part of a system will have
on another part of a system

3. Apply

Apply refers to ‘‘carrying out a procedure in a given situation’’. It includes

executing (such as carrying out a procedure in a familiar task) and implementing
(such as carrying out a procedure in an unfamiliar task).
Executing (carrying out a procedure with a familiar Applying a well-known procedure to a
task) - associated with the use of skills and familiar problem
algorithms, applies procedural knowledge.
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: carry
Apply – carry out, calculate, compute, operate, process, execute,
out or use a follow, perform, use, utilize, practice.
procedure in a Implementing (using a procedure with an Determining the procedure necessary for
given situation unfamiliar task) - associated with the use of solving an unfamiliar problem
techniques and methods, applies conceptual
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: adapt,
implement, demonstrate, determine, conduct.

4. Analyze

Analyze refers to ‘‘breaking material into constituent parts and determining

the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose’’. It
includes differentiating (such as distinguishing important from unimportant parts),
organizing (such as determining how parts fit or function within a whole structure),
and attributing (such as determining the point of view underlying presented

Differentiating - distinguishing relevant from Determining which parts in a given

Anal=[‘ irrelevant parts or important from unimportant material are most important or relevant.
parts of presented material.
=yze – break Sample learning outcome verbs may include: select,
material into its discriminate, distinguish, differentiate, focus on,
constituent point out.
parts and Organizing - determining how elements fit within a Providing an outline, table, matrix, or
determine how structure. hierarchical diagram
Sample learning outcome verbs may include:
the parts relate analyze, break down, organize, outline, sketch,
to one another draw, diagram, chart, tabulate, parse, separate,
and to an
overall Attributing- determining a point of view, intent,
Constructing or selecting a description of
structure or Sample learning outcome verbs may
the author's point of view or intentions
when presented with some written or oral
purpose include: attribute, ascribe, depict, describe, infer,

5. Evaluate

Evaluate refers to ‘‘making judgments based on criteria and standards’. It

includes checking (such as determining the consistency or effectiveness of a
procedure or product) and critiquing (such as judging the appropriateness of a
procedure or product).

Checking - detecting inconsistencies or fallacies Detecting inconsistencies or logical flaws

within a process or product (internal inconsistency). in presented information
Sample learning outcome verbs may include:
Evaluate – detect, monitor, coordinate, test.
Critiquing - detecting inconsistencies between a Evaluating a proposed solution or
judgments product and external criteria (external hypothesis; judging which of several
based on inconsistency). methods provides a better solution to a
criteria and Sample learning outcome verbs may include: grade, problem
score, judge, reason, appraise, assess, defend,
standards estimate, argue, rank, rate, support, review,
critique, justify, recommend, prove, disprove,
refute, qualify, criticize, verify, evaluate, discuss.

6. Create
Create refers to ‘‘putting elements together to form a coherent or functional
whole’’ . It includes generating (such as generating alternative hypotheses),
planning (such as devising a plan for accomplishing some task), and producing (such
as inventing a product).
Generating - coming up with alternative Producing alternatives or hypotheses -
hypotheses based on criteria. generating alternative methods for
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: achieving a particular result;
Create – put generate, hypothesize, theorize, research, Consequences tasks - listing all possible
experiment, explore. consequences of a certain event; Uses
elements tasks - listing all possible uses for an
together to object
form a Planning - devising a procedure for accomplishing
structure or some task. Developing a solution method, describing
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: solution plans, or selecting solution plans
reorganize design, devise, solve, propose, formulate, plan, for a given problem.
elements into a prepare, systematize, improve, innovate, refine.
new structure Producing - inventing a product.
Sample learning outcome verbs may include: write, Developing a novel product that satisfies
construct, produce, compose, invent, create, a description
program, build.