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Declarative Knowledge

Also factual knowledge (in cognitive psychology and learning theory), one of two
ways information is stored in long term memory. Declarative knowledge is
information that consists of consciously known facts, concepts or ideas that can be
stored as propositions. For example, an account of the tense system in English can
be presented as a set of statements, rules, or facts, i.e. it can be learned as
declarative knowledge. This can be contrasted with procedural knowledge, that is
knowledge concerning things we know how to do but which are not consciously
known, such as how to ride a bicycle, or how to speak German. Procedural
knowledge is acquired gradually through practice, and underlies the learning of
skills. Many aspects of second language learning consist of procedural rather than
declarative knowledge. Procedural knowledge is knowledge of how to perform an
activity, i.e. the how to level of knowledge involved in employing a skill such as
using a computer or operating a video camera.
Adaptive Control of Thought also ACT*
a model of skill learning, involving a progression from a controlled stage based on
declarative knowledge to an autonomous stage based on procedural knowledge.
Processes involved in this development include proceduralization (the translation
of propositional knowledge into behavioural sequences, chunking (the binding
together of commonly occurring units, which allows more information to be
maintained in working memory), generalization, rule narrowing, and rule
strengthening. Language acquisition is seen in this model as a type of skill
Levelt (1989) suggests that in planning an utterance, speakers rely on two types of
knowledge, procedural and declarative knowledge. Procedural knowledge takes the
form of condition/actions pairs of the form if X then Y (where X is the condition
and Y the action); for instance, if the utterance is to express a commitment to the
truth of a proposition p then assert p. Declarative knowledge includes all the
knowledge about the world that the speaker has gathered throughout their life,
called prepositional or encyclopedic knowledge, plus knowledge about the
immediate situation in which the speech exchange is taking place, situational
There are probably at least two dominant modes of declarative knowledge,
spatial and prepositional representations. In spatial representation, a state of affairs
is known, remembered or construed as a spatial image. In prepositional
representation, states of affairs are known, remembered or construed as sets of
relations holding between phenomena. It is possible to switch between modes of
representation: if someone asks me what kind of desk I have in my room, I may
recall a spatial image of it and then translate it into the prepositional information

that the desk is rectangular with three drawers on the right hand side; on the other
hand, in listening to conversation, we often construct mental models (JohnsonLaird, 1983), spatial images which help us make sense of and build on the
propositions we are being presented with. Levelt (1989, p. 72) gives the following
If I am given the prepositional information that Arnold is taller than Betty, and also
that Betty is taller than Christian, then I can evaluate the truth of Arnolds being
taller than Christian by imagining three peopleArnold, Betty and Christian
such that Arnold stands head and shoulders above Betty, and similarly for Betty
and Christian.
According to Levelt (ibid.), we use a system of procedures akin to logic (see
FORMAL LOGIC AND MODAL LOGIC) to evaluate the truth and falsity of
propositions on the basis of the truth or falsity of other propositions: If a person
believes the proposition All city centres are dangerous and also the proposition
Manhattan is a city centre, he will be able to evaluate the truth of the proposition
Manhattan is dangerous.
The procedural knowledge can obviously be applied to the propositions of
prepositional and situational knowledge. Finally, a co-operative speaker (see
PRAGMATICS) will have kept track of the course of a conversation and
constructed a discourse record, an internal representation of the evolution of the
discourse in which s/he is engaged, which ensures that utterances will be
appropriate to the ongoing conversation (ibid., pp. 11011). There is also evidence
(Schenkein, 1980; Levelt and Kelter, 1982; Harley, 1984) that the wording of the
previous utterance by another speaker can affect the present speakers wording
(Levelt, 1989, p. 122).