A person’s knowledge set— their understanding, awareness, or familiarity with content gained through experience or education—can enhance or seriously damage their experience. If someone knows where a library is located, what time the movie starts, or what materials are most durable for a running shoe, they can complete activities that require this knowledge.

People acquire different types of knowledge over time, encompassing facts, information, descriptions, and skills. Facts are objective truths, such as the measured circumference of the Earth, which are universally acknowledged and proven. Information, which can be organized, processed, or presented data, provides details about a particular subject and is used to increase understanding, solve problems, or make decisions. Together, these elements form a comprehensive understanding of the world, allowing people to navigate and engage with their environment and design effectively.

Designers should be careful when assuming some knowledge is superior to others. For instance, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) offers insights that are as advanced and useful as modern scientific knowledge. TEK, often rooted in cultural practices and long-term observations of the natural world, provides valuable perspectives on sustainable living and environmental stewardship. While it may lack the mathematical rigor and formal documentation typical of scientific knowledge, TEK encompasses a deep understanding of local ecosystems and practices honed over generations. Recognizing the value of diverse knowledge systems ensures a more inclusive and holistic approach to design, integrating different viewpoints and fostering solutions that are both innovative and respectful of cultural heritage. This inclusive approach to knowledge allows designers to create more effective and culturally sensitive solutions, enhancing their work’s overall impact and sustainability.

Examples of Knowledge

  • The boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius.
  • Paris is the capital of France.
  • Photosynthesis converts sunlight into energy in plants.
  • The formula for the area of a circle is πr².
  • The Great Wall of China was primarily built as a defense against invasions.

Researching Knowledge

When designers know a person’s knowledge level, they know what content people can apply when using a product, service, or system. Knowing a person’s skills and familiarity with user interfaces can help designers understand what processes to implement and what procedures would be ineffective.

Questions to Ask

  • What does this person know?
  • How do these people learn?

Look For

  • School grade level completed
  • The vocabulary people use
  • Familiarity with concepts and ideas



Updated: June 22, 2024 7:20 am
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