Bookmark or share this page
Contact Me
Email This Page
Print This Page

Our Glossary

You can use the searchable glossary on this page for clarification on some of the terms used and concepts addressed in our site. Generally, the definitions provided are our interpretations. We have provided references and links to source data when we have either quoted or borrowed heavily from another definition.

We hope you find this glossary helpful … for research, for clarification, or just for browsing. It’s not meant to be comprehensive, and is envisioned as a living document. Drop us a line or two if you have a question or comment about the terms, our definitions, or to suggest a term that you’d like added to the glossary.
  1. See pg. 350 of: Barnes, D. (1993). Afterword: The Way Ahead. In K. M. Pierce & C. J. Gilles (Eds.) Cycles of Meaning (pp. 343-354). Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.
  2. See Piaget, J. & Cook, M. T. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International University Press.
  3. See pg. 100 of: Boyd, E.M. and Fales, A. W. (1983). Reflective Learning: Key to Learning from Experience. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 23(2), 99-117
  4. Mercer, N. (1995). The guided construction of knowledge: Talk amongst teachers and learners. Philadelphia, PA: Multilingual Matters
  5. See pg. 4 of Polanyi, M. (1967). The tacit dimension. Garden City, N.Y: Anchor Books.
  6. See Clark, D.R. (2012). Design Methodologies: instructional, thinking, agile, system, or x problem? Retrieved from
  7. You’ll find an excellent discussion of the works of Hans-Georg Gadamer at: Malpas, Jeff, "Hans-Georg Gadamer", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
  8. McLaughlin, M., and D.J. McGrath, M.A. Burian-Fitzgerald, L. Lanahan, M. Scotchmer, C. and Enyeart, L. Salganik (2005). Student Content Engagement as a Construct for the Measurement of Effective Classroom Instruction and Teacher Knowledge. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research. You can find a bit more on student engagement at: .
  9. Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, 89−100.
  10. Huba, M. E. and Freed, J. E. (2000). Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses -- Shifting the Focus from Teaching to Learning. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  11. Bazerman, M. H. and Moore, D. A. (2009). Judgement in Managerial Decision Making, 7th Ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  12. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  13. Facione, P. A. (2015). Critical Thinking: What it is and Why it Counts. 2015 update
  14. See: Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science. 12 (2): 257–285.
  15. Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of Instruction. Cognition and Instruction. 8 (4): 293–332.
  16. My definition borrows from Gardner’s (2006) discussion of multiple intelligences and incorporates Bethune’s (2011) implication that spatial reasoning involves the capacity not only to perceive objects and systems, but to predict changes in objects or systems as a result of action or temporal change.
  17. The concept of the spacing effect dates all the way back to 1885 and the research Hermann Ebbinghaus. Discussing the effects of repetition and re-learning on memory and recall, Ebbinghaus noted: "It makes the assumption probable that with any considerable number of repetitions a suitable distribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more advantageous than the massing of them at a single time." (Ebbinghaus, 1885: 89). For a much more recent treatment, see: Vlach, H. A., & Sandhofer, C. M. (2012). Distributing Learning Over Time: The Spacing Effect in Children’s Acquisition and Generalization of Science Concepts. Child Development, 83(4), 1137–1144.
    Accessed via:
  18. Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia Learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  19. Adapted from a solid definition on Wikipedia at
  20. See Barbara Heyns’ seminal study identifying summer learning loss at Heyns, B. (1978). Summer Learning and the effects of schooling. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
  21. Definition paraphrased from
  22. Refer to the classic: Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  23. See Sadoski, M. (2005). A Dual Coding View of Vocabulary Learning, Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties. 21(3): 221-238 via
  24. Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press
  25. See for a description of ubiquitous computing by Mark Weiser, whose writing coined the phrase of, and is generally cited as the foundation for, the concept of ubiquitous computing.
  26. Cook-Greuter, S. R. (2004). Making the case for a developmental perspective. Industrial and Commercial Training. 36(7): 275-281
  27. Cohen, A. R., Fink, S. L., Gadon, H., and Willitts, R. D. (1984). Effective Behavior in Organizations. Homewood, IL: Irwin
  28. See the seminal piece on ToM at Premak, D. and Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have theory of mind? Behavioral and Brain Science, (4): 515-526
  29. Refer to the opening of Herz, R. S. (2005), Odor-associative Learning and Emotion: Effects on Perception and Behavior, as summarized at:
  30. See pg. 18 of Knowles, M. S. (1975). Self-directed Learning: A Guide for Learners and Teachers. New York: Association Press
  31. Rosenblatt, L. (1996). Literature as Exploration. New York: Modern Language Association of America
  32. See the discussion of connectivism by one of its foundational thinkers, Stephen Downes, at: (last accessed on 8/24/2017)
  33. See the discussion of test-enhanced learning by Henry L. Roediger, III, Mark McDaniel, and Kathleen McDermott at: (last accessed on 11/16/2017)
  34. You'll find a nice summary of competency-based education at (last accessed on 1/18/2018)
  35. Dweck, C. D. (2006). Mindset : the new psychology of success. New York: Random House
  36. See Jaeggi, Susanne M.; Buschkuehl, Martin; Jonides, John; Perrig, Walter J. (2008-05-13). "Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (19): 6829–6833.
  37. Paivio, A. (1990). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press.
  38. See Steven Downes' blog post on Connectivism and learning theories at, last accessed 5/21/2019.
  39. See pgs. 51-52 of David Bell's discussion of the impact of physical location on online activity. Granted, it is a marketing text, but his analysis has some great insights on how the place in which we are situated can influence our willingness to engage in virtual activity. This has a direct impact on the utility of establishing a connected classroom to leverage virtual situated learning. Bell, D. (2014). Location is (Still) Everything: the surprising influence of the real world on how we search, shop, and sell in the virtual one. Seattle, WA: Amazon Publishing.
  40. Jennifer Gonzalez offers a quick discussion of HyperDocs at, last accessed 6/5/2019. You'll find the original text that introduced the concept of HyperDocs to be a great resource: Highfill, L., Hilton, K., and Landis, S. (2016). The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps. Irvine, CA: EdTechTeam Press
  41. See Nancy Dixon's' blog post, Go Virtual Or Bring Them Back to the Office? The Answer: Hybrid Teams, on Conversation Matters. Link:, last accessed 8/8/2019.
  42. For an interesting summary of Flynn's thesis, see I.Q. Rising, by Patricia Cohen. Link:, last accessed 9/1/2019.
  43. Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R Th., & Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406.
  44. Waterhouse, L. (2013). Rethinking Autism: Variation and Complexity. New York: Elsevier.
  45. See pg. 11 of Raelin, J. A. (2000). Work-Based Learning: The New Frontier of Management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  46. Tishman, S. (2017). Slow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning Through Observation. London: Routledge.
  47. Lohman, D. F., Pellegrino, J. W. Alderton, D. L. & Regian, J. W. (1987). Individual differences in spatial abilities, in S. H. Irvine & S. E. Newstead, (Eds.) Intelligence and Cognition. Dordrich: Kluwer.
  48. Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., Ky, Catherine N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365 (6447): 611.
  49. See Debating the Mozart Theory, by Roberta Hershenson (2000). Link:, last accessed 3/6/2020.
  50. See From Andragogy to Heutagogy, by Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon (2000). Link:, last accessed 6/5/2020.
  51. Hug, T., & Friesen, N. (2007). Outline of a Microlearning Agenda. In T. Hug (Ed.), Didactics of Microlearning.
  52. Revans, R. W. 1982. The origin and growth of action learning. Brickley, UK: Chartwell-Bratt.
  53. Laird, D. 1985 Approaches to training and development. Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA
  54. Meltzer, E. (2019, June 23). The Three-Cueing System and Its Misuses (or: The Biggest Problem in Reading Instruction You’ve Never Heard of). Breaking the Code.
  55. McDaniel, M. A., Agarwal, P. K., Huesler, B. J., McDermott, K. B. And Roediger III, H. L. (2011). Test-Enhanced Learning in a Middle School Science Classroom: The Effects of Quiz Frequency and Placement. Journal of Educational Psychology. 100 (2): 399-414.
  • Default
  • Action learning
    Revans, R. W. 1982. The origin and growth of action learning. Brickley, UK: Chartwell-Bratt.

    Action learning is a model of problem solving that relies upon active questioning of alternative interpretations and possible solutions among a group of actors (learners). Learning occurrs as the actors involved in the questioning reflect upon the action processes and the results of the action itself.
  • Active listening
    The practice of mindfully hearing, comprehending, and restating the arguments of another person to allow the speaker to acknowledge a proper understanding of their position.
  • Aesthetic reading
    This type of reading is cognitively immersive and mentally experiential to the reader, drawing the reader to center his or her attention "directly on what he is living through during his relationship with that particular text."36
  • Anchor chart
    Anchor chart: A visual learning tool co-created by the teacher and students that offers students an orienting reference to support a learning episode. Anchor charts generally comprise vibrant descriptions and/or representations of strategies, processes, and procedures associated with a theme or activity. They also serve as a learning artifact after the lesson.
  • Andragogy
    The strategies, theories, methods, and practices associated with educating adult learners.

    This is closely related to pedagogy, the practices associated with teaching younger learners.
  • Assessment
    "Assessment is the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning.”11
  • Associative learning
    Associative learning occurs when individuals begin to link one event or item to another through repeated experience of the two items.33
  • Asynchronous learning
    Learning activities where the interaction among students and instructors is not constrained by time or place.
  • Auditory learning
    A learning and teaching style in which meaning is constructed or enhanced through listening and speaking.
  • Backfire effect
    This is a term from cognitive psychology that refers to the tendency of some individuals to cling to, and defend, their own opinions and false beliefs, even when confronted by contradictory evidence. In fact, when confronted with this evidence, rather than change their beliefs, these individuals harden their beliefs. In a sense, the contradictory evidence "backfires," causing further entrenchment on the false belief.

    The backfire effect can be a significant barrier to effective class discussion. The unwillingness/inability to critique one's own false beliefs can lead to an escalation of commitment, an unwillingness to engage in reflection, and an inability to engage in meaningful knowledge construction.
  • Benchmarking
    A formal process of 1) identifying desired improvement goals for a process or activity, and 2) regularly and systematically measuring and reviewing progress toward those goals. Goals can often be established as “best practices” in reference to another school or institution, or may be set in relation to an existing internal referent.
  • Blended learning
    An approach to learning where the learning process comprises both traditional face-to-face instruction and digital delivery of content and instruction. This approach provides both a broader mix of content delivery as well as a facility for the learner to better control the time, frequency of access, and location of instruction.
  • Classroom-as-organization (CAO) approach
    The Classroom-as-organization approach is generally associated with management education. CAO is a particular application of experiential learning that treats the classroom and its students as members of an organization. In this manner, the students are asked to adopt the roles of organizational members and experience the leadership, decision making, role structuring, skills application, and cultural aspects of an actual organization. 31
  • Classroom looping
    Looping, or more specifically classroom looping, refers to the practice of teachers advancing with a group of students for two or more grade levels. The idea is that the teacher and the students comprise a cohesive learning group that benefits from built-up familiarity and trust over an extended learning cycle. This approach seems particularly well-suited to middle school classes that are already team-taught, or to students in transition years.
  • Closure
    A classroom activity or technique designed to end a learning episode in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the learner.
  • Cognate
    This is an interesting term in an academic glossary as it has two distinct, yet related, uses. First, we can think of a cognate from a particular field of study. In the study of linguistics, a cognate is a word (or words) that share the same etymological roots. Wikipedia offers a great example of a set of linguistic cognates: "the English words dish and desk and the German word Tisch ("table") are cognates because they all come from Latin discus, which relates to their flat surfaces."

    From a curriculum standpoint, cognates refer to courses that share related information or knowledge, but reside in a separate field of study. For instance, a marketing major (Business Administration) may be interested in the cognitive processes of choice. In this case, they may take a course in behavioral cognition (Psychology Department) to augment/replace some of their direct requirements in the School of Business. By the same token, a Computer Science major may augment/replace her major requirements with an advanced class in logic offered from the Philosophy department.
  • Cognitive engagement
    In students, cognitive engagement exists when students demonstrate a willingness and ability to explore and interact with learning tasks and situations in order to gain deeper meaning or mastery of the material.

    As a verb, cognitive engagement represents “a form of instruction that challenges students to draw upon basic skills to engage in higher level thinking.”
  • Cognitive load
    The total mental processing burden placed on working memory during an instruction or learning episode.15

    Subsequent research
    16 broke cognitive load into three components:
    Intrinsic load: the mental processing burden arising from the level of difficulty associated with a particular task or activity
    Extraneous load: the mental processing burden associated with the manner in which instructional activities are delivered or administered
    Germane load: the mental processing burden associated with the development of schemas
  • Cohort
    A group of learners who experience/share an educational process at the same time.
  • Cohort effect
    An identifiable characteristic of a population group arising from having been exposed to, and influenced by, similar societal events, life experiences, media, imagery, and trends.
  • Competency-based education
    A competency-based approach to education comprises schemas of instruction, activity, assessment, and progression based upon demonstration of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to accomplish essential learning outcomes. In a sense, students progress when they become proficient in a subject, not when they have studied it for a prescribed time frame. Dr. Robert Mendenhall succinctly hi-lited the essence of competency-based education: "The most important characteristic of competency-based education is that it measures learning rather than time."39

    This is a kind of a Missouri-style approach to education …
    show me what you can do. The instrumental characteristic of this approach speaks to me not only as an educator, but as a manager who spent far too many hours looking at resumes while trying to find the right person to hire. You might think of it as the difference between a person who shows up for the interview with a portfolio of what they have done, not just a resume of the years they spent in school or at another company.
  • Conducive learning environment
    I am partial to a definition of a conducive learning environment from The Herald: "By definition, a conducive learning environment is a platform devoid of both physical intimidation and emotional frustration, which allows for a free exchange of ideas."

    I might change the word intimidation to restriction, but that may be simply parsing words. The key here is that freedom of movement, activity, exploration, and exchange is critical to a constructivist approach to learning. We have Dr. Montessori to thank for this focus on classroom environment.
  • Connectivism
    Borrowing from network theory, connectivism views knowledge as residing within networks of individuals, organizations, data, and locations. Learning can exist outside of the individual, and thus arises from the learner's ability to make connections among and between the various nodes of the relevant network, thereby forming new knowledge. As described by Stephen Downes: "At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks."
  • Constructive alignment
    The material and content to be taught, the approaches to teaching, and assessments should be explicitly aligned with the intended learning outcomes.
  • Constructivism
    Posits that learners construct knowledge by building new meaning onto existing knowledge structures. In this view, new knowledge arises from the individual reflecting on new experiences and reconciling those reflections with prior knowledge structures.

    Interested in a short video with some nifty art work that illustrates constructivism in the classroom? You'll find it
  • Content Curation
    The process of sorting through and gathering relevant thematic content, and presenting it in an organized, timely, and accessible manner.
  • Context
    From the New Oxford American Dictionary: “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed”

    With respect to cognition, we would consider context to refer to the setting within which knowledge is constructed and which “shapes our perception and interpretation of meaning.”
  • Context effect
    Context effects refer to the manner in which circumstances of a given setting impact our perception of, and reaction to, environmental stimuli.
  • Conversation
    Gadamer viewed the language of conversation as the primary vehicle of understanding. He described conversation as an exchange among conversationalists that seeks agreement about a given issue.7

    It seems, though, that conversation can add to our understanding even if not directed at an agreement among the conversationalists … when I ask someone how they are and they say they feel ill, we’ve had a conversation that furthers my understanding, even without the need for agreement on an issue. Thus, conversation might be better understood as an exchange of linguistic symbols among members that allows the members the opportunity to refine their pre-existing knowledge structures.
  • Critical listening
    The act of hearing, evaluating, and judging the verbal arguments put forth by others.
  • Critical Thinking
    We like Facione’s (2015)14 description of critical thinking: “Purposeful, reflective judgment which manifests itself in reasoned consideration of evidence, context, methods, standards, and conceptualizations in deciding what to believe or what to do.”
  • Crystallized intelligence
    I think Wikipedia offers the most concise and effective definition of crystallized intelligence: "Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use skills, knowledge, and experience. It does not equate to memory, but it does rely on accessing information from long-term memory. Crystallized intelligence is one's lifetime of intellectual achievement, as demonstrated largely through one's vocabulary and general knowledge."42
  • Cueing
    Cueing, sometimes described as "three-cueing," or "searchlights" in Great Britain, is a reading tactic designed to help readers self-identify words. Using this tactic, readers are asked to consider the context (pragmatic) and sentence structure (syntactic) that surround the word in question, as well as the letters (orthographic) of the word, to construct its meaning. Although the system was originally intended to help readers construct meaning and boost retention through the "interplay of syntax, semantics, and graphophonemics,"60 it has evolved into a reading program aimed at word identification.
  • Cumulative talk
    Additive and confirmatory4, this type of talk “adds” to an idea (idea1 + idea1a + idea1b) , but doesn’t expand on or from the idea. Members of the group are confirming and rephrasing existing knowledge, but not constructing new meaning.
  • Curriculum mapping
    Curriculum mapping is the process of aligning learning standards with teaching practices by way of “indexing or diagraming a curriculum to identify and address academic gaps, redundancies, and misalignments for purposes of improving the overall coherence of a course of study and, by extension, its effectiveness.”24
  • Declarative knowledge
    Descriptive in nature, declarative knowledge comprises the factual things, concepts, and information that an individual knows.
  • Deliberate practice
    Proponents of deliberate practice suggest that knowledge is created by way of systematic, attentive, and purposeful repetition of a task or the elements of a specific activity. The purpose associated with deliberate practice is to develop a learner toward "expert performance"49 of the targeted task or activity through focused repetition.
  • Discriminative listening
    The ability to perceive and comprehend differences among words spoken, and non-verbal cues evidenced, by another person.
  • Disputational talk
    This type of talk revolves around disagreement4. Members espouse and defend a personal view as opposed to exploring the nature of each other’s view. As such, it does not move a conversation forward. At best, it causes a conversation to hang in place; at worst, it causes conversation to regress.
  • Dual coding theory
    This theory posits that cognition occurs by way of the interaction of two independent but connected coding channels: a verbal coding channel for language, and a non-verbal channel for imagery. Knowledge structures are deepened when the two channels are activated in concert, whether the non-verbal channel is activated via graphics or via mental imaging.26
  • Education
    Any action, process, or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, knowledge, character, or physical ability of an individual.21
  • Efferent reading
    This view of reading suggests that the reader is actively reading to acquire information, data, or facts, and acting to synthesize concepts or ideas.36
  • Elaborative interrogation
    Using prompts to students for explanation (for example: “Why is this the case?”) in order to facilitate learning.
  • Epistemology
    Epistemology is the study of, or investigation of, the theory of knowledge and justified belief. More broadly, "epistemology is about issues having to do with the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular areas of inquiry."
  • Executive functions
    “ … the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully” in order “to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”17
  • Explicit knowledge
    Knowledge that can be articulated in formal symbols. Rather than being ephemeral and embedded in the individual (implicit knowledge), explicit knowledge is able to be represented in symbols, codified, stored, and transmitted, either formally or informally, to other individuals (i.e. communicated to others). In this manner, it is available to others as they construct new meaning.
  • Exploratory talk
    This is productive talk4 … new meaning surfaces from members challenging others’ comments (not just disagreeing with), seeking clarification, proposing alternative hypotheses, and branching off to extensions of the original comment. In this way, new meaning is surfaced and structured.
  • Fixed mindset
    For Dweck,40 individuals with a fixed mindset see their fundamental skills, abilities, and characteristics as essentially static. As such, they see no benefit to learning or experimentation, since their efforts hold little value. If their intelligence is fixed, the effort devoted to learning activities is essentially useless. As a result, students with a fixed mindset are less likely to benefit from these learning activities, and therefore less likely to progress in learning environments.
  • Fluid intelligence
    The ability to identify, analyze, and solve novel problem independent of any relevant past knowledge.41
  • Formative assessment
    Ongoing formal and informal processes enacted during learning sessions to determine changes in teaching or knowledge creation processes that might enhance student learning.
  • Framing
    Framing refers to the “alternative wordings of the same objective information that significantly alter the decisions that people typically make …” (Bazerman and Moore, 2009: 64, italics added for emphasis).12

    Framing is a critical issue for directed discussion. The way facts are presented initially, or departure points chosen, can strongly influence the direction of a class discussion, potentially biasing the manner in which new meaning is constructed.
  • Gap (summer) learning loss
    The observable loss of learning that occurs when students are away from school for extended periods of time (most often referred to as summer learning gap).22
  • Germane cognitive load
    The cognitive effort expended to develop or restructure knowledge structures, or schemas.
  • Growth mindset
    Carol Dweck40 describes a growth mindset as an individual's view that they can be changed through hard work, application, or action; their self is, in effect, malleable and subject to improvement. Dweck's research suggests that students evidencing a growth mindset may be more open to challenge and investigation, leading to better learning outcomes for that individual.
  • Heuristics
    Simplifying strategies used by individuals when making judgments about complex data or scenarios.12
  • Heutagogy
    Heutagogy refers to learning as self-determined by the learner. As proposed by Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon in 2001, heutagogy views learning as a capability of the learner, thus allowing the learner to identify and approach learning as it becomes apparent in their lives. Rather than consider learning as the teaching of young students (pedagogy) or adult learners (andragogy), this view considers the human as acapbale of learning, thus "teaching" becomes directing and facilitating the learner's development of the capacity to learn.56
  • Hybrid teams
    Hybrid teams are virtual teams that incorporate structured face-to-face meetings. As Nancy Dixon mentions in her informative article on hybrid teams,47 they " … eliminate many of the deficits of virtual teams. They build the relationships and trust necessary to increase collaboration, engagement and knowledge sharing."

    Using teams in an online setting can be challenging, particularly in terms of getting the team (as opposed to a task-allocating group) to recognize and deploy complementary skills. If intentional face-to-face meetings can be structured, even via Skype or FaceTime, teams are more likely to norm and deliver the learning outcomes we seek.
  • HyperDoc
    A hyper doc is a digital document that curates links to all the materials and components needed by a student to complete a given learning assignment.46
  • Instructional groups
    Structured groupings of students within a class who work together on a given educational task, issue, or assignment.
  • Instructivism
    The transferring of knowledge from one person, typically a teacher, to another person, typically the student.44
  • Interleaving
    Working on multiple skill sets simultaneously, or in parallel, as opposed to working on a single skill until completion. Interleaving is thought to have a positive effect on learning by requiring the learner to constantly retrieve older material into working memory, thereby bolstering the development of knowledge structures.
  • Irrelevant speech effect
    Students have been found to have impaired recall of items/information presented in an environment that includes background speech or chatter of which the learner is not a participant. This phenomenon manifests whether the background speech is in a recognized language, non-recognized language, or even if it is nonsensical babble.

    This effect has implications both for classroom management (hey, quiet in the peanut gallery!) as well as design (are open classrooms that foster discussion counterproductive to some learning episodes?). And, as I re-read this, does anyone even know what a peanut gallery is anymore?
  • Kinesthetic learning
    A learning and teaching style in which meaning is constructed or enhanced through physical activity and the manipulation of physical artifacts.
  • Knowledge
    Wikipedia offers a fairly robust and workable definition of knowledge: “Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.”
  • Lateral development
    The acquisition and construction of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that deepen existing schemas, meanings, and perceptions of existing reality.30
  • Learning
    The process of acquiring or modifying knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.
  • Learning outcomes
    Explicit statements of what learners will master and be able to measurably demonstrate at the end of a course or learning episode.
  • Lesson study
    Developed by Prof. Akihiko Takahashi of DePaul University, lesson study is a teaching improvement approach. Faced with a problematic teaching issue, a group of teachers come together to first research the reasons for students struggling with that problem area. Then, the teachers collaboratively design a lesson plan to better “teach” the problem area. One of the teachers “teaches” the new plan while the other group members observe how the plan affects the students. In this way, lessons become research-based collaborative exercises, tested and adjusted based upon student outcomes. In a sense, it’s a version of the Japanese quality management techniques of quality circles and kaizen, joined together to continuously improve teaching.
  • Linguistic relativity
    The notion that the structure of an individual’s language either determines a speaker’s perception and communication of their world view (strong version), or at least influences the speaker’s comprehension and manifestation of their world view (weak version). This concept is often described as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in reference to the two contemporary researchers most frequently associated with the study the interaction between linguistics, environmental perception, and cognition.
  • Linguistic representation
    Linguistic representation uses speech and text to convey and process information; Marzaono also describes this as semantic representation. This concept is an extension of Paivio's Dual Coding Theory where he describes information representations as either verbal (logogens) or non-verbal (imagens).43
  • Longitudinal data
    Similar data observed from a common set of subjects at multiple points over a period of time.
  • Maker education
    A problem-solving approach to knowledge creation. Generally, learning is focused around analyzing a problem, identifying a solution to the problem, “making” an artifact or digital representation of the solution, and sharing that solution with others.
  • Meta-competence
    A competence that can "transcend itself."51 If we think of skills as mastered approaches or solutions to a particular task, a meta-competence is, in essence, a skill that an individual can adapt to changes in the environment or a pre-existing problem set.
  • Metacognition
    Some experts offer a deceptively simple definition of metacognition … they describe it as “thinking about thinking.” More directly, Douglas Barnes hints at the learning aspect of understanding how we think, describing metacognition as “the learner’s perception of the experiences and activities that constitute learning.”1 To round out an understanding of metacognition, it also encompasses recognizing our learning processes and adjusting them when we face experiences, activities, or information that we don’t understand … we think about how we think to enhance our ability to learn.
  • Microlearning
    Also known as nano learning, this learning strategy is characterized by short periods of time spent interacting with small units of multimedia content or artifacts.57
  • Mindset
    Carol Dweck40 describes a mindset as a kind of self-theory. It represents an individual's perception of their own personality, attitudes, abilities, characteristics, abilities, motivations, etc. For instance, an individual may consider themselves as smart or unintelligent, a high achiever or a low achiever, a good student or a bad student. These self-beliefs, according to Dweck, can have a powerful mediating effect on the individual's behavior and actions.
  • Moderating variable
    A variable that affects the strength and/or direction of the relationship between dependent and independent variables.
  • More Knowledgeable Other
    Vygotsky’s description of another individual in a learner’s learning environment that has a better understanding or more highly developed ability with respect to a relevant learning activity or task.
  • Motivation
    The forces, both internal and external, that arouse, direct, and maintain goal-directed behaviors. If we think of the word’s Latin root, the verb movere, or to move, we can think of motivation as the impulse and willingness to move from one state to another.
  • Mozart EffectTM
    A study by Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw, and Catherine Ky (1993), demonstrated a positive relationship between listening to music composed by Mozart student performance in select spatial reasoning activities.54 Many researchers and practitioners raced to work on this relationship, most prominently Don Campbell, who published the book The Mozart EffectTM in 1997. Campbell depicted research findings that listening to Mozart had a positive effect on some portions of IQ testing, thus cementing the popularity of the effect.

    Subsequent research showed that passive listening to music by Mozart, or any other music for that matter, had lasting effect on cognitive development. Subsequent research has found, however, active music activity, i.e. playing musical instruments, can have a positive effect on spatial reasoning skills as well as language learning and verbal intelligence. This is particularly relevant for elementary school learners.
  • Nonlinguistic representation
    Nonlinguistic representation involves the transmission of information and knowledge through the use of non-verbal symbolism (what Poivie calls images).43 This could include the use of imagery, music, smell, touch, etc to convey or process knowledge. Interestingly, Poivie suggested that written words (non-verbal) might constitute images, while Marzano considers both written and spoken words to constitute linguistic (semantic) representation.
  • Pedagogy
    The strategies, theories, methods, and practices associated with educating young learners.

    This is closely related to andragogy, the practices associated with teaching adult learners.
  • Perceptual set
    The psychological factors that influence how you perceive a given environment.
  • Procedural engagement
    Manifest in students who conform to traditional classroom norms and rules of behavior8.
  • Procedural knowledge
    Sometimes referred to as the “knowledge of how,” procedural knowledge comprises the knowledge utilized in the performance of a particular task. Procedural knowledge is instrumental in nature, allowing an individual to do apply declarative knowledge in pursuit of a desired outcome.
  • Protégé effect
    This effect refers to the finding that students who teach or tutor others tend to score better on tests than students who only study for learning's sake.
  • Radical constructivism
    Coined by Ernst von Glasersfeld, radical constructivism represents a more individualized and subjective view of constructivism. Rather than a shared assimilation of a group's interpretation of experiences, radical constructivism views knowledge construction as building from a subjective interpretation by an individual of their present reality and viable responses to that reality.
  • Reflective learning
    Reflective learning speaks to how individuals can internally assess new information or experience in relation to existing knowledge structures and develop new meaning. Boy and Fales offer a good definition of reflective learning, defining it as, “the process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience, which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self, and which results in a changed conceptual perception.”3
  • Retrieval practice
    This is an active learning tactic that seems to help foster deeper learning. Asking students to attempt to recall information from their memory, rather than constantly trying to put information in, has been found to help strengthen student performance. Use no/low-stakes quizzes, flashcards, written answers to verbal prompts on previously learned information … any approach that makes learners dig into long-term memory and pull out that knowledge. 61
  • Rubric
    A document evidencing the criteria and scale by which an assignment or task will be evaluated.

    The construction of the rubric provides 1) an artifact of an instructor’s assessment activity, as well as 2) a symbol of what comprises important course content, as well as his/her judgement as to what evidences sufficient content mastery.
  • Scaffolding
    Originally defined in Wood et. al. (1976:90) as ‘“those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner’s capacity, thus permitting him to concentrate upon and complete only those elements that are within his range of competence.”10

    Scaffolding, then, refers to strategies and techniques designed to help students progress toward new or refined meaning. The secondary outcome is a kind of metal earning, as the student assumes more learning independence by incorporating enhanced comprehension and skill acquisition in their learning process.
  • Schemas
    Piaget viewed schemas as the fundamental units, or building blocks, which children linked together to “construct” their knowledge structures and meaning. Piaget defined a schema as, “a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected and governed by a core meaning.”2
  • Scientific spectacles
    This term was coined by the sociologist James Flynn to describe the puzzling tendency of IQ scores to rise for adults, but not children, in the U.S., and for test takers from more modern/urban settings as opposed to more remote individuals. Flynn theorized that modern society was presenting individuals with problems that required more abstract thinking, or as the NYTimes described it, the capacity to "reflexively organize information into abstract categories and discern complex relationships between concepts — the very skills that intelligence tests assess."2
  • Search friction
    Economists and organizational theorists use the term "search friction" to describe elements that increase the burden, or costs, an individual faces in gathering information. This concept is relevant to knowledge construction because individuals will tend to gather information up to the point where the cost of searching for more information exceeds the learners perceived benefit from the additional, or marginal, unit of information. Thus, if we want an individual to seek more information, we need to reduce those elements that make it burdensome to search for it, i.e. reduce search friction.2
  • Self-directed learning
    Malcolm Knowles is the architect of the self-directed learning approach, describing it as a learning process "… in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.”34

    Knowles based his self-direction proposition on three premises;
    1. self-initiating (more proactive) learners learn better than less proactive learners
    2. proactive behavior (in this case learning) is more consonant with normal psychological development processes
    3. the development of "self-directed inquiry" skills are critical for future learning
  • Semantic webbing
    The process of identifying facts, issues, and thoughts associated with a broader concept. Think of it as showing how smaller elements fit together to inform a larger whole, or concept.
  • Sensory stimulation theory
    Sensory learning theory originated with Dugan Laird's discussion of how the majority of knowledge held by adults came from seeing (75%), hearing, (13%), or by way of the other senses (12%). He suggests that learning occurs by way of sensory stimulation, and that learning outcomes are enhanced when multiple senses are simultaneously engaged by the learner in a learning episode.59
  • Serial position effect
    When presented with a list of terms or items, individuals tend to best remember the first (primacy effect) and last items (recency effect) in the list, and to have difficulty remembering the items in the middle of the list.
  • Situated learning
    This perspective views learning as socially constructed in the context and environment within which the knowledge is applied.28
  • Slow learning
    When students are pressed for time, they are limited to quick impressions regarding an object, person, or other learning event. These limited or first impressions rob us of our ability to see or experience the complexity of a learning event and perhaps even its relationship to other phenomena in its environment. Slow learning52 is a teaching tactic that consciously provides learners more time to observe, examine, and manipulate a learning object or event. By "slowing down," learners are more likely to see below the surface impression of the object, and develop a deeper and more complex understanding of the learning event.
  • Social brain
    Why can't we all just get along? Because it's hard, both emotionally and cognitively, to always see eye-to-eye with those around us. Social brain is a shorthand term "for the many specialized but shared cognitive–emotional–social brain systems that mediate social interaction."50 Comprising complex firing of the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the frontoparietal network, social brain describes the critical processes that must occur for learners to understand the intentions of others, to predict their responses to social stimuli, to make sense of their actions, and to interact in a meaningful and productive manner. If you want to use cooperative learning in your classroom, this is a concept you should get to know.
  • Social loafing
    What a great descriptive term!

    Social loafing refers to the tendency of an individual to expend less effort as part of a group/team project than they would if working on the project alone. The potential for social loafing by any one individual tends to increase as the number of group/team members increases.
  • Spacial contiguity
    “Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.” (Mayer 2001:81)20
  • Spatial intelligence
    Spatial intelligence speaks to a learner's ability to perceive, manipulate, transform, retain, and deploy information presented in visual, diagrammatic or symbolic form. 53
  • Spacing effect
    The positive effect on long-term learning that occurs when learning events are spaced out over time, rather than being completed in immediate succession.19
  • Spatial reasoning
    The ability to visualize objects and their relationships in space from different angles, to perceive how they interact with each other in context, and to predict how they might change or evolve by virtue of manipulation or through the passage of time.18
  • Spiral curriculum
    Espoused by Jerome Bruner, this concept suggests that learners are able to approach a subject at any stage of their development. A spiral curriculum introduces subjects at a given stage, then revisits them with increasing levels of difficulty at later stages. In this way, the learner develops deeper knowledge structures through repeated exposure to more complex knowledge.25
  • Substantial engagement
    Characteristic of students who not only conform to traditional classroom norms (see ‘Procedural engagement’), but also interact with course content in a deep and meaningful manner8.
  • Summative assessment
    A formal, static evaluative activity designed to evaluate the level of student learning at the end of a given learning episode (i.e. chapter exam) or timeframe (i.e. a midterm exam).
  • Syllabus
    A syllabus is a listing or summary of the objectives, content, instructional methods, behaviors, assessment, and evaluation practices that comprise an educational course or offering.

    Contemporary practice has begun to view a syllabus as a “contract” between the instructor and the student in the relevant course/offering. As a result, many syllabi now contain extensive legalese and descriptions that are often available elsewhere (formal course description as found in a college’s catalog, for instance, or a rehashing of diversity policies as found in a school’s handbook or web page).

    At its essence, a syllabus should contain administrative information about the instructor and setting, a statement of the over-arching objective of the class, a listing of assessable student outcomes that evidence attainment of the objective, a listing of relevant resource material (books, videos, course-management systems, etc.), a description of assessment and grading practices/scales, an outline (preferably by date) of the course material to be covered, and any ancillary administrative issues that apply to the instructor, students, and/or setting that might impact the learning process.
  • Synchronous learning
    A learning episode where students and instructors interact at the same time.
  • Tacit knowledge
    Tacit knowledge comprises an individual’s reservoir of knowledge structures, data, imagery, and information that can be used to make sense of a new situation or experience. Often manifest as hunches, intuitions, or informed guesses, individuals are often at a loss to describe how they “knew” something. As stated by Polanyi, “we can know more than we can tell.”5
  • Temporal contiguity
    “Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.” (Mayer 2001:86)20
  • Testing effect
    Students exposed to an intermediate test or quiz after being exposed to content and a related criterial assessment perform better than those students who did not have an intermediate quiz/test. The "effect" of the intermediate assessment its positive with respect to learning content. "20
  • Theory of Mind
    A child's ability to interpret and predict behaviors in others by way of attribution of causal mental states. 32
  • Tracking
    The practice of organizing students into classes or groups on the basis of demonstrated or perceived academic ability.
  • Trigger warning
    Trigger warnings advise members of a learning environment that the content that is about to be read, displayed, or discussed “addresses sensitive subjects, such as child abuse, rape and racist violence, that may evoke personal trauma.”27
  • Ubiquitous learning
    The broadening availability of immersive mobile technology (ubiquitous computing29) allows us to access material and content anywhere and at any time. In this sense, the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology allows us to create or moderate the situations in which learning may occur28, allowing learning opportunities to be ubiquitous, i.e. learning experiences can occur at any place and at any time (ubiquitous learning).
  • Vertical development
    Transcending existing knowledge structures to incorporate alternative schemas and the views of others in the development of new knowledge and meaning. As stated by Cook-Greuter (2004: 276), vertical development is manifest by way of learners seeing the world "through new eyes, how we change our interpretations of experience and how we transform our views of reality". 30
    Visual learning
    A learning and teaching style in which information, ideas, concepts, and data are more effectively conveyed and understood through imagery and/or other visual channels.

    There is little research suggesting better learning outcomes when students are taught in their preferred learning style. Rather, it seems that learning occurs when students interact with information in multiple ways, as long as one of them is visual. For more, you may enjoy this
    visual on visual learning!
    Warm demander
    Teachers who cultivate supportive accomplishment in the classroom by setting "clear boundaries between adult and child and clear expectations of excellence for the child, while also serving as an important source of motivation and encouragement.”23
    Working memory
    The limited-capacity cognitive structure responsible for temporarily holding and making available data and information for cognitive manipulation.
  • Zone of Proximal Development
    Vygotsky suggests that individuals are constrained in what they can learn independently in any given domain. However, individuals can develop more knowledge in a domain through interaction with more capable peers or instructors. This difference between independent learning capability and a greater potential capability through social interaction is known as the Zone of Proximal Development.

    Direct from the horse’s mouth, “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by individual problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers …” (Vygotsky, 1978: 86).