Day Two: Types of knowledge in Drama.

Welcome to Day Two of the 10 Day Drama Curriculum Masterclass.

Today we will be continueing the first part of the course, reviewing your current curriculum. It is important that we begin by reviewing what you currently teach so that we can properly build on that and develop it into the curriculum you want.

In this session we will…

  • Recap on definitions of knowledge and why it is important
  • Explore the types of knowledge found in teaching and working in Drama/Theatre
  • Review these in your curriculum.

Transcript of video


Let’s recap on the definition of knowledge from yesterday. When we often think of knowledge, what we think of is facts and information. We would assume that knowledge in Drama is knowing Key Terminology. Knowing terms and definitions. But knowledge is much more than this. This is only the start of knowledge. Knowledge is about having an awareness and understanding of those facts and information. It is about an appreciation of, and familiarity with, both theory concepts and practical processes.

Knowledge rich curriculum

Knowledge + Curriculum = A curriculum which is designed to help the learner become knowledgeable.

A knowledge rich curriculum is academic, challenging, broad, balanced and ambitious. It is a curriculum where skills and knowledge are equal and at the core of its purpose. A curriculum which covers many subject areas and goes into a greater depth of detail across them all. A curriculum which expects to challenge and push young people to become better.

One of the five key defining traits of a knowledge rich curriculum is of course, that knowledge is the driver of said curriculum. This means that in a knowledge rich curriculum knowledge comes first. It should be placed at the core of your curriculum. We start with knowledge at every Key Stage overview, every unit of learning, every lesson, and every activity you plan. You focus on the knowledge that you want the learner to gain, teaching a broad range of knowledge from the subject of Drama.

Four types of knowledge most relevant to the study of Drama.

There is a large range of different types of knowledge, the definitions of which overlap and intersect. But there are four types of knowledge that are most relevant to Drama.

Factual knowledge

Basic elements that learners must know to be able to perform a task. But this doesn’t limit factual knowledge to simple facts and figures – or in the case of Drama, definitions of key terms. Factual knowledge is understanding them, applying them, analysing and evaluating them. What really defines factual knowledge is that it comes from Direct Instruction.

Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction is one of the most effective forms of teaching. Direct Instruction is any situation where teachers are directing the instructional process or instruction is being directed at students by teachers. It exists on a continuum from overall teacher control to student independence.

Conceptual knowledge

Conceptual Knowledge is the glue that holds our mental world together. Conceptual knowledge is the understanding we develop within our brains called Schema, which are a network of linked knowledge we can draw on at any time.

This is the moment when our learners understand that still images are not the only Drama technique and that they are in fact a part of a suite of techniques. And that each has a different job with subtle similarities and differences.

An important defining feature of Conceptual Knowledge is that it happens inside the learners’ brain. As such, we as teachers have no control over it. We can try to influence that as much as possible through the way we sequence our curriculum or use teaching strategies such as knowledge organisers. However, when it comes to the formation of the schema it is only created inside the learners’ brain. Equally, each individual learner will create their own individual schema which, of course, will be different to everyone else’s.

Procedural knowledge

Procedural knowledge refers to how learners express their knowledge through performing tasks. This could range from writing an exam to creating a performance.. It is about the quality and the effectiveness of our ability to use knowledge.

Procedural knowledge is knowing instinctively when to use Still Images in a devised performance or not. It is when a student can make good use of Drama techniques without thinking. We all know learners who are working at the lower end of the process where we just have to tell them to add a Still Image into a performance. And then we have learners who are working at the higher end, who will instinctively know what techniques to use and when to use them to best communicate their intentions to the audience.

The defining feature of procedural knowledge is that the more we practice, the better we get at it. It develops over time through deliberate and guided practice.


Metacognition is often referred to as thinking about thinking. It is a process of self-reflection on the way you have learnt knowledge or used knowledge. It is also a process of considering how you might apply knowledge from one situation to another.

Students need to be supported to help them move from being reliant on the teacher for improvement to being autonomous and able to identify their own progress and needs. This needs to be done with carefully planned deliberate and guided practice until the students become independent and autonomous.

Cognitive processes

The cognitive processes are more commonly referred to as cognition. They are the many processes working together in the formation of thought. Cognition helps us to acquire information and make conscious and subconscious conclusions about the world around us. Cognition  is central to the learning process. Cognitive skills are an order of processes that take place within the brain when learning happens. You will be most familiar this in the form of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) revisited Bloom’s taxonomy in light of further research. Here are cognitive process involved in learning as defined by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001).

All four types of knowledge (factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognition) follow the cognitive processes of remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create. On the next page you will see a table with the cognitive processes across the columns and the types of knowledge in the rows.

The level of complexity increases as the learner progresses along the cognitive processes from remembering through to creating and as the learner travels down the different types of knowledge from factual knowledge through to metacognition.

This creates nine diagonal bands (which have been colour coded). The lowest is knowing factual information, which in the case of Drama is knowing the definition of key terminology such as Still Images. The highest is being creative with metacognition, which for Drama is about the learner being highly creative in their analysis and evaluation of their own practice and using that to create innovative, exciting and multi-layered Theatre.

The amount of input the teacher has over the learning process also reduces through the nine bands. The first is completely teacher led. As the process moves on through guided and deliberate practice the teacher input reduces. The final three levels are completely led by the learner and guided by their ability to be independent and autonomous learners.

Day One Task

Task 1

Reflect on these questions about the use and focus of knowledge within your current teaching practice. •

  • How much do you consider knowledge to be a part of teaching Drama?
  • Do you recognise the different types of knowledge in your teaching?
  • Can you reflect on how much time you spend on each type of knowledge?

Task 2

Contribute to the group discussion on the Facebook group page by sharing your successes.

  • What has worked really well for you in the past?
  • Do you have a strong and successful way of helping students learn factual knowledge?
  • Do you have successful graphic organisers to help them develop schema?
  • Perhaps you have a strong method of rehearsal that allows the students to develop independently?
  • How do you get them to become independent thinkers able to reflect on their own progress?

Further Reading

Anderson and Krathwohl (2001)  article Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised.