What Is Declarative Knowledge? Types And Use Cases In L&D

What Is Declarative Knowledge? Types And Use Cases In L&D
Summary: What is declarative knowledge and why is it so important for learning and growing? Discover the answers to these questions and explore the way we acquire and apply knowledge.

A Comprehensive Overview Of Declarative Knowledge

Declarative knowledge, although not widespread, is vital in Learning and Development. It's, essentially, every piece of information, fact, concept, or topic you've learned throughout your life and stored in your brain. It's called declarative because you can declare or explain all this knowledge. From knowing the capitals of countries or the elements in the periodic table to your company's yearly revenue, it's everything you understand about the world around you. But why is this so important in L&D? Declarative knowledge is the foundation of education and what trains you in critical thinking from a young age. Plus, you wouldn't be able to hold a conversation without recalling general facts. Let's delve into the whys and hows of declarative knowledge and see how it applies to the world of L&D.

Types Of Declarative Knowledge

Factual Knowledge

This type is more about the facts you know that probably help you ace the questions in general knowledge quizzes. For example, if you're a history enthusiast, you can recall the names and dates of important battles or the rise and fall of empires. Similarly, if you love cinema, you can remember who directed what movie, when films premiered, or how many pictures an actor has starred in. Factual knowledge helps you understand complex ideas based on common facts, thus allowing you to solve problems more quickly. Every time you encounter a difficulty, you try to overcome it by thinking about what you already know. That's why it also helps you learn things more efficiently.

Factual knowledge is usually evaluated through quizzes and tests, indicating what information you can actually recall or explain. So, whether it's multiple-choice questions or true/false, you will be challenged to remember everything you know.

Conceptual Knowledge

If facts are little bits of information, concepts are the bigger picture, connecting different bits. Conceptual knowledge is our understanding of concepts, theories, and everything that consists of seemingly unrelated pieces of information. For instance, when you learn about photosynthesis, you're not just learning that it's the way plants survive. You learn that plants use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide and water into food and oxygen. Thanks to conceptual knowledge, you can grasp complex issues and navigate them through critical thinking. It also helps you bridge gaps between what you already know and what you're about to learn.

But how do you test how well someone perceives concepts? The best way to do it is through essays. Since learners will have to write about a concept, they'll need to think deeply and find the best way to express it. Moreover, collaborative learning activities, like group projects, are also effective, as they require learners to share their knowledge and connect the dots between everyone's opinions.

Procedural Knowledge

We've talked about the knowledge of facts and concepts, so it's time to cover the knowledge of doing things. This is procedural knowledge, and it's about understanding the processes and methods that will lead you to perform specific actions. Think about driving, for example. To operate a car, you must follow some steps first, like wearing your seatbelt, starting the engine, shifting gears, using the steering wheel, etc. So, it's safe to say that procedural knowledge is practical, and that's why you gain it through hands-on learning. It's also stored in muscle memory, which your body can remember when performing tasks repeatedly.

Simulations are a great way to test procedural knowledge, as they're a safe environment to practice. This is why pilots get plenty of training in flight simulators before hopping on a real plane. Additionally, practicing in real life with an instructor is also helpful, as you get instant feedback.

How To Use Declarative Knowledge In L&D

Curriculum Design

Declarative knowledge can help educators with curriculum design, as it sets a solid foundation for learners to gain knowledge. Let's start with setting learning goals. You should base the objectives of your courses on declarative knowledge to reach them faster. For example, if you're crafting your math class curriculum, you want your students to know about the rule of three and be able to solve math problems using it. This will also allow you to slowly progress the lessons' levels, from simpler to more complex. Most importantly, though, it prepares students for lifelong learning, as they'll already be familiar with all the general knowledge they need in life.


You can reinforce declarative knowledge through corporate training, too. Start by presenting all the facts, procedures, and processes your employees need to know in engaging ways. You can add multimedia elements, like videos, presentations, quizzes, and game-like courses, to transfer the necessary knowledge regarding their roles and responsibilities. When it comes to hands-on training, you can leverage VR and simulations to connect every piece of information they must acquire together. So, if you're training salespeople, provide them with interesting courses about customer interactions, product information, and communication skills, and then have them participate in a sales simulation in a virtual store or call center. This includes all types of declarative knowledge, providing your learners with a comprehensive training experience.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning technologies refer to personalizing the learning experience to cater to learners' different needs. Declarative knowledge is at the core of this process. Those technologies use AI systems that consider everyone's existing knowledge. By checking learners' declarative knowledge, meaning everything they know about different facts, events, and concepts, they can identify knowledge gaps and create lessons to fill them. Then, the process of customizing each person's learning path starts. So, let's say a learner is keen on lead generation. The system will skip this part of the course and move to another topic. On the contrary, if a learner struggles to grasp a topic, the system will provide them with lessons that focus on that until they understand it better.

Learning Content Development

The quality of your learning content determines whether the learning process will be successful or not. So, the best you can do while creating eLearning content is to make it relevant to declarative knowledge while also ensuring it enhances it. To put it simply, presenting the learning material in a way that people can easily understand and apply it is key. Think of what you want your learners to gain from a specific course. If it's a history lesson, you probably want them to know dates, names, and places. Remember that it's all about sharing basic knowledge with them, so whether it's a video or an infographic, make it memorable and eye-catching.


Declarative knowledge is the secret ingredient for a successful L&D process. It's an elemental part of how we learn, process, and apply information, and it's the reason we grow and make sense of the world. Declarative knowledge is and will always be relevant to L&D. On that note, implement it in your practices and transfer it to your learners to help them thrive.