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Last update : 22.02.2016


Outcome of assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices related to a
field of study or work.

Comment: there are numerous definitions of knowledge. Nevertheless, modern conceptions of knowledge rest broadly on several basic distinctions:

  • Aristotle distinguished between theoretical and practical logic. In line with this distinction, modern theoreticians (Alexander et al., 1991) distinguish declarative (theoretical) knowledge from procedural (practical) knowledge. Declarative knowledge includes assertions on specific events, facts and empirical generalisations, as well as deeper principles on the nature of reality. Procedural knowledge includes heuristics, methods, plans, practices, procedures, routines, strategies, tactics, techniques and tricks (Ohlsson, 1994);

  • it is possible to differentiate between forms of knowledge which represent different ways of learning about the world. Various attempts have been made to compile such lists, the following categories seem to be frequently represented:
    • objective (natural/scientific) knowledge, judged on the basis of certainty;
    • subjective (literary/aesthetic) knowledge judged on the basis of authenticity;
    • moral (human/normative) knowledge judged on the basis of collective acceptance (right/wrong);
    • religious/divine knowledge judged by reference to a divine authority (God).
This basic understanding of knowledge underpins the questions we ask, methods we use and answers we give in our search for knowledge;

  • knowledge encompasses tacit and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1967) is knowledge learners possess which influences cognitive processing. However, they may not necessarily express it or be aware of it. Explicit knowledge is knowledge a learner is conscious of, including tacit knowledge that converts into an explicit form by becoming an ʻobject of thoughtʼ (Prawat, 1989).

Source: Cedefop (2014) "Terminology of European education and training policy: A selection of 130 key terms"