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Glossary of education-related terms (A-C)

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This glossary of education-related terms is based on relevant articles in this wiki. This page contains terms starting with A – C. Select a letter from the table of contents to find terms on other pages.

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  • .edu: ("dot-edu") The generic top-level domain for educational institutions, primarily those in the United States. Created in January 1985 as one of the first top-level domains, .edu was originally intended for educational institutions anywhere in the world. With few exceptions, however, only those in the United States registered such domains, while educational institutions in other countries usually used domain names under the appropriate country code TLD.


Sanzio 01 Plato Aristotle

Plato, seen with Aristotle, is credited with the inception of academia.

  • Academia: A collective term for the scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole. The word comes from the akademeia just outside ancient Athens, where the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning.
  • Academic degree: A degree is any of a wide range of status levels conferred by institutions of higher education, such as universities, normally as the result of successfully completing a program of study.
  • Academic dress: (or academical dress, also known in the United States as academic regalia) Traditional clothing worn specifically in academic settings. It is more commonly seen nowadays only at graduation ceremonies, but in former times academic dress was, and to a lesser extent in many ancient universities still is, worn on a daily basis.
  • Academic publishing: Describes a system of publishing that is necessary in order for academic scholars to review work and make it available for a wider audience. The "system," which is probably disorganized enough not to merit the title, varies widely by field, and is also always changing, if often slowly. Most academic work is published in journal article or book form.
  • Active learning: A process whereby learners are actively engaged in the learning process, rather than "passively" absorbing lectures. Active learning involves reading, writing, discussion, and engagement in solving problems, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Active learning often involves cooperative learning.
  • Activity theory: (AT) A Soviet psychological meta-theory, paradigm, or framework, with its roots in socio-cultural approach. Its founders were Alexei Nikolaevich Leontyev, and S. L. Rubinshtein (1889–1960). It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR, being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, in areas such as the education, training, ergonomics, and work psychology.
  • Additional Support Needs: In Scotland, children who require some additional support to remove barriers to learning in any respect are deemed to have Additional Support Needs. This definition abolished the previously used term Special Educational Needs and was set out in the 2004 Additional Support for Learning Act.
Educating adults differs from educating children in several ways. One of the most important differences is that adults have accumulated knowledge and experience which can either add value to a learning experience or hinder it.
  • Adultism: A predisposition towards adults, which some see as biased against children, youth, and all young people who aren't addressed or viewed as adults. Adultism is popularly used to describe any discrimination against young people, and is distinguished from ageism, which is simply prejudice on the grounds of age; not specifically against youth.
  • Agricultural education: Instruction about crop production, livestock management, soil and water conservation, and various other aspects of agriculture. Agricultural education includes instruction in food education, such as nutrition. Agricultural and food education improves the quality of life for all people by helping farmers increase production, conserve resources, and provide nutritious foods.
  • Aims and objectives: An aim expresses the purpose of the educational unit or course whereas an objective is a statement of a goal which successful participants are expected demonstrably to achieve before the course or unit completes.
  • Analysis: The action of taking something apart in order to study it.
Knowles held that andragogy (from the Greek words meaning "man-leading") should be distinguished from the more commonly taught pedagogy (Greek: "child-leading").
The objective of this approach to teaching is to eliminate bias found in various institutions. This approach attempts to provide children with a solid understanding of social problems and issues while equipping them with strategies to combat bias and improve social conditions for all.
The anti-bias curriculum serves as a catalyst in the critical analysis of various social conditions. It is implemented as a proactive means to eradicate various forms of social oppression with the ultimate goal of social justice in mind.
  • Applied academics: An approach to learning and teaching that focuses on how academic subjects (communications, mathematics, science, and basic literacy) can apply to the real world.[1] Further, applied academics can be viewed as theoretical knowledge supporting practical applications.[2][3]
  • Apprenticeship: A traditional method, still popular in some countries, of training a new generation of skilled crafts practitioners. Apprentices (or in early modern usage "prentices") built their careers from apprenticeships.
  • Aptitude: Individual differences that are related to subsequent learning during a fixed time frame. The learning or acquisition of knowledge or skills can occur in a formal intervention (training or education) or in an informal setting (experience or mentoring).
The term "arts education" implies many things, but it is defined as: Instruction and programming in all arts disciplines—including but not limited to dance, music, visual art, theater, creative writing, media arts, history, criticism, and aesthetics. "Arts education" encompasses all the visual and performing arts delivered in a standards-based, sequential approach by a qualified instructor as part of the core curriculum. The most common courses provided in schools include Art (visual art), Band, Drama, and Choir.
  • Assessment: The process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Asynchronous learning: A teaching method using the asynchronous delivery of training materials or content using computer network technology. It is an approach to providing technology-based training that incorporates learner-centric models of instruction. The asynchronous format has been in existence for quite some time; however, new research and strategies suggest that this approach can enable learners to increase knowledge and skills through self-paced and self-directed modules completed when the learner is prepared and motivated to learn.
  • Autodidacticism: (also autodidactism) Self-education or self-directed learning. An autodidact, also known as an automath, is a mostly self-taught person - typically someone who has an enthusiasm for self-education and a high degree of self-motivation.


One of the assumptions of many behaviorists is that free will is illusory, and that all behaviour is determined by a combination of forces both genetic factors and the environment, either through association or reinforcement.
Knowledge is often defined as justified true belief, in that the belief must be considered to correspond to reality and must be derived from valid evidence and arguments. However, this definition has been challenged by the Gettier problem which suggests that justified true belief does not provide a complete picture of knowledge.
  • Bilingual education: Has multiple definitions:
    • education where two distinct languages are used for general teaching;
    • education designed to help children become bilingual (sometimes called "two-way bilingual education"; e.g., Spanish speakers and English speakers in a classroom are all taught to speak both languages;
    • education in a child's native language for (a) the first year or (b) however long it takes; followed by mainstreaming in English-only classes (in the US);
    • education in a child's native language for as long as his parents wish (with minimal instruction in another language).
In the latter cases "native-language instruction" may be a clearer definition.
  • Biliteracy: The state of being literate in two or more languages. To be biliterate has a stronger and more specified connotation than the claim of being simply bilingual. This is because with the change of the term from 'lingual' to 'literate' and the concept of reading and writing, which are in addition to simply speaking. In bilingualism the extent of fluency in each language is in question. One can be anywhere on the spectrum from comfortable oral communication in certain social contexts to fluency in speaking, reading and writing. With the term biliteracy, however, it is understood that fluency in both reading and writing are present.
  • Blended learning: Learning in a combination of modes. Often used more specifically to refer to courses which use a combination of traditional face-to-face teaching and distance learning techniques on-line.
  • Boarding school: A school where some or all students not only study but also live, amongst their peers but away from their home and family. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of a 'boarding house', lodgings which provide both bed and board, that is meals as well as a room. Most famous UK public schools are boarding schools for ages 13 to 18, either single-sex or coeducational.
There are any number of different types of boarding schools, for pupils of all school ages from boarding nursery or Kindergarten schools, to senior schools. Boarding prep schools for the age group 9 to 12 are becoming less usual in the UK, but many adolescents like to get away from home.
  • Brainstorming: An organized approach for producing ideas by letting the mind think without interruption. The term was coined by Alex Osborn. Brainstorming can be done either individually or in a group; in group brainstorming sessions, the participants are encouraged, and often expected, to share their ideas with one another as soon as they are generated. The key to brainstorming is not to interrupt the thought process. As ideas come to the mind, they are captured and stimulate the development of better ideas. Brainstorming is used for enhancing creativity in order to generate a broad selection of ideas in leading to a unique and improved concept.
  • Brainwashing: (or thought reform) The application of coercive techniques to change the beliefs or behavior of one or more people for political purposes. Whether any techniques at all exist that will actually work to change thought and behavior to the degree that the term "brainwashing" connotes is a controversial and at times hotly debated question.
  • Bridge program: This is a higher education program specifically designed to assist a student with an attained initial educational level (or an initial level of professional licensure) to attend college courses and achieve a terminal degree (or a higher level of professional licensure) in the same field of study and in less time than an entry-level student would require. Bridge programs are most notable among healthcare professions.



  • Chemistry education: An active area of research within both the disciplines of chemistry and education. The main focus of research is on learning and teaching of chemistry in schools, colleges and universities. The practice of chemical education is teaching chemistry to students and the training of teachers to teach chemistry. The research aspect deals with how to teach and how to improve learning outcomes.
  • Child: (plural: children) A young human. Depending on context it may mean someone who is not yet an adult, or someone who has not yet reached puberty (someone who is prepubescent). Child is also a counterpart of parent: adults are the children of their parents despite their maturation beyond infancy; for example "Benjamin, aged 46, is the child of Tobias, aged 73".
  • Classical conditioning: (also Pavlovian conditioning or respondent conditioning) A type of associative learning. These associations are formed by pairing two stimuli—what Ivan Pavlov described as the learning of conditioned behavior—to condition an animal to give a certain response. The simplest form of classical conditioning is reminiscent of what Aristotle would have called the law of contiguity which states that: "When two things commonly occur together, the appearance of one will bring the other to mind."
  • Classical education: May refer to the education of antiquity and the Middle Ages, or the education of later periods based on Classics and Western culture, or the completely different Chinese tradition of education, based in large part on Confucian and Taoist traditions.
  • Coeducation: The integrated education of men and women at the same school facilities; co-ed is a shortened adjectival form of co-educational. Before the 1960s, many private institutions of higher education restricted their enrollment to a single sex. Indeed, most institutions of higher education—regardless of being public or private—restricted their enrollment to a single sex at some point in their history. "Coed" is an informal (and increasingly archaic) term for a female student attending such a college or university.
  • Cognitive maps: (mental maps, mind maps, cognitive models, or mental models) A type of mental processing, or cognition, composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual can acquire, code, store, recall, and decode information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their everyday or metaphorical spatial environment. Here, 'cognition' can be used to refer to the mental models, or belief systems, that people use to perceive, contextualize, simplify, and make sense of otherwise complex problems. As they have been studied in various fields of science, these mental models are often referred to, variously, as cognitive maps, scripts, schemata, and frames of reference.
  • Collaborative learning: An umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating a product. The approach is closely related to cooperative learning, but is considered to be more radical because of its reliance on youth voice. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, and other activities.
  • Common sense: (or as an adjective, commonsense) What people in common would agree; that which they "sense" in common as their common natural understanding. Some use the phrase to refer to beliefs or propositions that in their opinion they consider would in most people's experience be prudent and of sound judgment, without dependence upon esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what is believed to be knowledge held by people "in common". The knowledge and experience most people have, or are believed to have by the person using the term.
  • Community of practice: (often abbreviated as CoP) Refers to the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.
  • Comparative education: Seeks to throw light on education in one country (or group of countries) by using data and insights drawn from the practises and situation in another country, or countries.
  • Computer Based Learning: (sometimes abbreviated CBL) Refers to the use of computers as a key compoent of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes. The concept is generally seen as being distinct from the use of computers in ways where learning is at least a peripheral element of the experience (e.g. computer games and web browsing).

A concept map

  • Concept mapping: A technique for visualizing the relationships between different concepts. A concept map is a diagram showing the relationships between concepts. Concepts are connected with labelled arrows, in a downward-branching hierarchical structure. The relationship between concepts is articulated in linking phrases, e.g., "gives rise to", "results in", "is required by," or "contributes to". Concept mapping serves several purposes. One, which takes place via knowledge elicitation, is to represent the mental models, i.e., the cognitive map of individuals, teams and organizations. Another, which takes place by knowledge capture, is to represent the structure of knowledge gleaned from written documents. The addition of knowledge resources, e.g., diagrams, reports, other concept maps, spreadsheets, etc., to the concept nodes (attached during or after construction) has been found to significantly improve the level of meaningful learning of the concept mapper. Educators are increasingly realising the utility of such maps and have started using them in classroom.
  • Constructivism: A set of assumptions about the nature of human learning that guide constructivist learning theories and teaching methods. Constructivism values developmentally appropriate, teacher-supported learning that is initiated and directed by the student.
Constructivism views all of our knowledge as "constructed," because it does not reflect any external "transcendent" realities; it is contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender are socially constructed (Hegel, Garns, and Marx were among the first to suggest such an ambitious expansion of social determinism). The common thread between all forms of constructivism is that they do not focus on an ontological reality, but instead on the constructed reality.
  • Cooperative education: A structured method of combining academic education with practical work experience. Research indicates that one of the attributes employers value most in newly hired employees is work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a "co-op", provides academic credit for career work. Cooperative education is taking on new importance in school-to-work transition, service learning, and experiential learning initiatives.
  • Course: in the United States, a unit of instruction in one subject, lasting one academic term
  • Course of study: in the British Commonwealth, a programme of education leading to a degree or diploma
  • Creativity techniques: Heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus (possibly selected randomly). There is an analogy between many creativity techniques and methods of evolutionary computation.
  • Critical pedagogy: A teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness. In this tradition the teacher works to lead students to question ideologies and practices considered oppressive (including those at school), and encourage liberatory collective and individual responses to the actual conditions of their own lives.
  • Critical thinking: Consists of a mental process of analyzing or evaluating information, particularly statements or propositions that people have offered as true. It forms a process of reflecting upon the meaning of statements, examining the offered evidence and reasoning, and forming judgments about the facts. Critical thinkers can gather such information from observation, experience, reasoning, and/or communication. Critical thinking has its basis in intellectual values that go beyond subject-matter divisions and which include: clarity, accuracy, precision, evidence, thoroughness and fairness.
  • Cultural learning: The way a group of people within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information. Learning styles are greatly influenced by how a culture socializes with its children and young people.

See alsoEdit


  1. Glossary. Hocking College Academic Affairs Department. URL accessed on 2007-04-26. [dead link]
  2. Frequently Asked Questions about Applied Academics. Center for Applied Academics. URL accessed on 2007-05-01.
  3. Walker, Jacob, et al. Systems and Tools Educational Model. Wikimedia. URL accessed on 2007-05-02.

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