The taxonomy of knowledge



Part 3
THE earlier two columns noted the varied perspectives that anchor the classification and categorization of knowledge. These include epistemological (“the rationality of belief or justification”), or positivist (information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic) or ontological (the being and knowing of knowledge) views. Thus, knowledge could be generic (or general) or domain-specific, concrete or abstract, formal or informal, declarative or proceduralized, conceptual or procedural, elaborated or compiled, unstructured or (highly) structured, tacit or inert, strategic or situation knowledge and meta-knowledge.” /1/types.pdf><><www.\,htm>.<
For a weekly column within an allotted space, a discussion on knowledge for weeks could be boring. Hence, we discuss knowledge structures in the context of academe–in teaching and learning, since after all, education is the main remit of this column. To recall, knowledge taxonomy based on Krathwohl’s, is structured in four types—declarative or factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive knowledge. Accordingly, we began this series by describing the first two structure types of knowledge, starting with declarative or factual knowledge and the second type, referred to as conceptual knowledge, which takes the form of theories, models and structures.

We shared examples of theories and models such as the “waterfall model”–often invoked in IT undergraduate capstones which also supported the software design research of Liceo’s IT Dean Dr. Andrew Ponte and Academic Chair Cindy Balabat. The waterfall model of sequential (non-iterative) design process, in software engineering ”illustrates development stages (e.g. a software design) that follow each other in a certain order. . . . all the requirements . . . defined initially.”

We also presented the more popular business models–the multilevel marketing model of Avon, Mary Kay and Amway and the relationship or franchising model of McDonald’s and Kentucky. Note that HEIs have similarly adopted the franchising model. We then dealt with procedural knowledge citing as an example membrane transport procedures in pharmaceutical biochemistry. There could be libraryful examples of procedural knowledge in the various disciplines; it’s up to our readers to share examples from their study area. Having said this, we proceed with the last type of knowledge structure which is metacognitive knowledge.

Metacognitive knowledge refers to “cognition in general as well as awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition.” Metacognition is “cognition about cognition”, “thinking about thinking,” or “knowing about knowing” and higher-order thinking skills. It comes from the root word meta, meaning “beyond,”
<> and takes many forms “when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving.” Applied to teachers and learners, metacognition refers to “knowing when and where to use particular strategies for learning (or teaching) and problem-solving as well as how and why to use specific strategies.” This involves the “ability to use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a learning task, take necessary steps to problem-solve, reflect on and evaluate results, and modify one’s approach as needed.” To this type belongs “strategic knowledge, knowledge about cognitive tasks, including appropriate contextual and conditional and self-knowledge.” When teachers decide “what is the best way to teach a particular topic so that all students can use and retain information, teachers summon their ability to contextualize.”

Meta-cognitive processes include “planning, monitoring one’s own thoughts, problem-solving, making decisions and evaluating one’s thought processes,” and “the use of strategies for remembering information.” In more specific terms, “metacognition refers to one’s awareness of and ability to regulate one’s own thinking.” Everyday examples are “awareness that you have difficulty remembering people’s names in social situations; reminding yourself that you should try to remember the name of a person you just met; realizing that you know an answer to a question but simply can’t recall it at the moment; realizing that you should review an article you read last week because you have forgotten many of the key points or realizing that there is something wrong with your solution to a problem.” <>

These “mental events” ordinarily happen to everyone. Metacognition knowledge is some knowledge that people can improve on. It is reported that good readers are those who, when they come across a difficult word, take time to look up its meaning, and reread until they do understand what the text says. Contrary-wise, poor readers just “plow through” the words, and wouldn’t bother to make sense of what they read. Our source says that, “good readers monitor their comprehension as they read; poor readers don’t.” “Good readers notice when they don’t understand something and then do something about it. . .they are strategic; metacognitive skill makes them so. Weak readers fail to monitor their understanding.”<>

Metacognition makes one take notice of waning attention, of failing comprehension, of hazy memory, of faulty thinking. In brief, it warns us when we haven’t learned well, spurs us to action, to “refocus attention, re-reading, mulling over an idea, asking questions, or other mental moves to deal more effectively with the situation.”
Metacognition makes us “smarter–or at least better able to take advantage of (our) abilities.” Obviously, “students can improve their metacognitive skills and (we) teachers can help them do so.”

In sum, learning gains of students depend on the richness, variety, appropriateness to subject matter and sequencing of knowledge types encountered and which students ably apply.

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The correct hyperlink in last week’s column, second paragraph is <>

The author, an educator and institutional management expert, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. After attending universities in the Philippines, she studied Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is copy editor of the Liceo journals and professorial lecturer at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).


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