Being Knowledgeable at Prem - in the 21st Century

Prem’s mission statement identifies that we challenge our members to act as compassionate, knowledgeable and principled global citizens: working together for a sustainable and inspired by meaningful relationships, continuous learning and good thinking. Being knowledgeable is defined by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IB) as developing and using conceptual understandings, exploring knowledge and engaging with issues and ideas that have both local and global significance. I was intrigued to learn more about what ‘being knowledgeable’ means and identify the ways that the four types of knowledge (factual, conceptual, procedural and meta-cognitive) are embedded in our learning at Prem.

Factual knowledge can be simply defined as knowing specific facts and is information that is often memorised. It is the foundation for students to be able to make connections and see relationships within subjects and the IB curriculum values the need for students to develop this area. There are many opportunities for our students to develop facts through exposure and repetition, for example, multiplication facts in Mathematics, facts and figures in Social Studies and letter and sound patterns in Literacy.

Conceptual knowledge moves beyond just recalling facts, indeed, it can be described as the ability to take facts and apply them in meaningful ways in relation to real-world situations. We deliver a concept-based curriculum at Prem and as such, we strive for opportunities where our students can apply their learning in real-life contexts. We have seen many successful applications of conceptual knowledge as students go beyond the realm of facts through project-based learning, reflective thinking and problem solving; the second-hand uniform shop, Junior and Senior School student councils and Hand to Paw fundraising committee are examples of this in action.

Procedural knowledge is all about the ‘how’ of our learning processes, whereby students are paying close attention to both the process and the outcome. Procedural knowledge is viewed as subject-specific skills but within the IB programmes, students are able to develop broader overarching skills in regards to communication, research, thinking and self-management. These skills and the concurrent experiences can then be transferred to other learning contexts or the wider world.

The final type of knowledge, meta-cognitive knowledge, is the ability to reflect on what is happening in our own world and our self-knowledge. Meta-cognitive knowledge is important to our performance, our success and wellbeing and at Prem, our students are very involved in reflective thinking practices. We support student agency and self-regulation by offering the time and space for students to conference with their peers, with students across grade levels and their teachers. Through a feedback and feedforward approach, students identify what they are already doing well in addition to areas for growth. They set ‘next step’ goals encouraging them to be more aware of their thinking, becoming more active and engaged learners who learn more deeply.

Reflecting on the learning experiences we deliver at Prem, I found many examples of how the four types of knowledge are reflected and indeed, naturally embedded within the IB curriculum. Not only are students provided with opportunities to build their ‘knowledge’ through varied activities and experiences that aid them in developing conceptual understandings, but they are also able to hone the skills and competencies necessary for success in the 21st century.


Mary ann Van de Weerd

PYP Coordinator/JS Deputy Principal

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