What is Procedural Knowledge and How to Use It?

Experience is fundamental for all human beings. Through experience, we humans can form informed decisions. Experience gained through some implicit knowledge can be called procedural knowledge. It can be simply stated as knowing how to do something.

This article will explore procedural knowledge and procedural thinking, attempt to define procedural knowledge or procedural information, the other types of knowledge that exist, procedural knowledge examples, and how we can leverage procedural knowledge in modern organizations through knowledge management tools.

But first, let’s take a look at what procedural knowledge is.

What is Procedural Knowledge?

Procedural knowledge can be simply stated as knowing how to do something. It is defined as the knowledge attained by practicing or exercising a task or a skill. It is also called practical knowledge, imperative knowledge, or task knowledge.

It is referred to as the know-how data about abilities to do something. This (purely procedural) knowledge base is essentially developed and retained within organizations and institutions—for example, the research-based efforts (perform task and analysis) of the Research & Development team within an organization. 

We learn most things through experience. When we try something for the first time, our minds face a brand new problem. Once we are familiarised with solving issues, such data becomes a part of our cognitive ability or becomes implicit knowledge. Like muscle memory.

Learning to drive is one of the most prominent examples of procedural knowledge. The more you drive, the better you get at it. Just reading a manual on driving, i.e, gaining factual knowledge about driving alone, will not suffice and hence you won’t be a good driver unless you put your feet to the pedal.

  • Procedural and Declarative Knowledge

    In contrast to procedural knowledge is descriptive knowledge. Descriptive, conceptual, or propositional knowledge is a type of factual knowledge where the knowledge of particular facts and propositions is important. 

    Descriptive knowledge comes with its own merits and answers questions like what rather than the how. However, procedural knowledge is much more complex to understand and explain than descriptive knowledge.

    In descriptive knowledge, the individual is aware that they understand the information meaning it is a more conscious ability whereas, in procedural knowledge, the knowledge is unconscious (typically nonconscious processing).

    in this way, procedural knowledge can come in handy depending on the situation and skill required.

    Declarative knowledge or subject matter knowledge alone is never enough. Declarative knowledge has to be put into practice for its value to be derived. Hence it is important to always understand the different concepts of what you know and what you can do.

  • Conditional Knowledge

    Other than declarative and procedural knowledge, there exists a third type of knowledge known as conditional knowledge. Conditional knowledge is also known as strategic knowledge. This includes knowledge of the when and why matters i.e. when to apply which type of knowledge and why.

    This type of knowledge helps individuals to select and apply appropriate logic and knowledge depending on the situation.


Capture Procedural Knowledge Using Knowledge Management

CloudTutorial is a knowledge management software, allowing users to capture procedural knowledge, explicit knowledge.

What Are Some Examples of Procedural Knowledge?

Now that we understand what procedural knowledge is, let’s look at some areas where it can be highly valuable.

  • Intellectual Property

    Procedural knowledge, in intellectual property law, is tightly held information about a company’s technology that could be used to create products and services of commercial value. 

    It can also be sometimes referred to as a trade secret or secret information. Legally speaking, procedural knowledge is part of an organization’s intellectual property and the company has the right to license it through patents and trademarks.

  • Artificial Intelligence

    In artificial intelligence, procedural knowledge is knowledge retained by an intelligent entity. A well-known example of this is a procedural reasoning system or PRS. In this case, a mobile robot that’s AI system-based is given specific instructions on navigation or actionable steps about pathways. 

    In a descriptive system, this entity will only be equipped with a map instead. The inbuilt algorithm will then have to discover how to use this given resource to complete complex tasks at hand.

  • Procedural Knowledge in Education

    Examples of procedural knowledge in the classroom include the impact of procedural knowledge that could help students to learn concepts better and deeper.

    In an academic environment, procedural knowledge is the procedural steps or how a student approaches and achieves learning goals—the rules, skills, and basic actions they employ to attain results. 

    In a way, procedural knowledge is part of prior knowledge. As a procedural knowledge and educational psychology example, in mathematics education when students first learn to count, they make use of their hands and fingers.

    The cognitive load is distributed and also employs other senses into the task making learning easier and effective.

  • Psychological Impact

    In cognitive science psychology, procedural knowledge was found to be mostly non-conscious knowledge. As per many cognitive psychologists, individuals who learn procedural knowledge are sometimes unaware they are learning.  

How to Capture Procedural Knowledge with Knowledge Management?

Here’s how you can use knowledge management to capture procedural knowledge – 

  1. Identify the Generally Confusing Business Processes

    You will have to take a deep dive here and closely identify the projects or business processes your employees are generally confused about. This can be a process that brings about the maximum questions. 

    But first things first, don’t assume. Conduct feedback to understand what are the processes that your new employees found overwhelming or highly challenging. You can then get your experienced top-performer to draft a tutorial or recording that comprehensively explains ‘how to do it’. 

  2. Understand How Do Your Employees Find Answers Currently

    So suppose you’ve identified what are the common points of confusion for your employees. The next step is to figure out how these employees get their answers currently – where do they go to understand how to complete a task, who do they rely on to find the answer. 

    If they are lost, asking for help from teammates and colleagues, take the hint – you’ve got a poor knowledge management system as there’s an expert who unintentionally controls the know-how information. 

    To get out of this one-expert trap, rely on software and technologies to have a centralized knowledge base management that’s accessible to all employees. 

  3. Make It Easy For Your Employees

    Moving forward, make the desired action easy to take. This means if you want your employees to truly go to a centralized knowledge base management to gain plus understand the information, make it as easy as you can. 

    Don’t only document the ‘what to do’; go heavy on the ‘how to do’ part. 

Make the Best Use of Procedural Knowledge With CloudTutorial

No lost employees, no expert that controls all the information, no repetitive questions. Only well-documented know-how procedures, easy-to-access, and easily articulated information at the disposal of all your employees. If that’s what you’re dreaming of, CloudTutorial is the specific solution that goes above and beyond to cover all your wishes. 

CloudTutorial is a simple knowledge base software that helps organizations to create a standalone knowledge base that is customizable, searchable, SEO packed, and easily and seamlessly combined with your existing business domain. 


Want To Centralize Your Company Knowledge?

Use CloudTutorial to create a knowledge base platform to maintain your company’s information and employee’s knowledge.

By using CloudTutorial and its exclusive features, your business can have a centralized system for all repetitive and recurring questions with instant answers. 
CloudTutorial is a flexible solution for any business no matter the industry. More and more businesses are investing in knowledge management systems like CloudTutorial to improve the productivity and performance of their organization and its employees.

In Simple language procedural Knowledge is a type of knowledge exercised when a task is performed. It is also known as imperative knowledge, performative knowledge, or practical knowledge. An example of procedural knowledge could be learning to ride a bicycle or learning the driving process.
  • Descriptive or declarative knowledge deals with the what of a task. For example, “I know this car is red”.
  • Procedural knowledge deals with the how of a task. It is the knowledge exercised when the task is performed. For example, “I know how to drive this car”.
  • Descriptive knowledge can be gained from studying or reading about something whereas procedural knowledge is gained mostly from experience.
TPassing or even teaching procedures, aspects, or ideas of procedural knowledge can be difficult. By having a carefully created knowledge system, a business can reiterate procedural knowledge more efficiently. Knowledge bases can also improve the productivity of employees that need their business queries solved frequently.

Both procedural and declarative knowledge are important to knowledge workers that need to make informed and accurate decisions. Simply knowing theoretical approaches (conceptual knowledge) is not enough for problem-solving. This is why procedural knowledge has more importance as it leads to better and practical understanding through the act of doing and experiencing.

It is important to collect procedural knowledge (convert such knowledge to explicit knowledge) as a business owner and make it available to all knowledge workers within an organization. Implementing solutions like creating a common knowledge base can improve the employee mindset and the profitability of a business.

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