Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
halo effect

an inaccurate assessment or evaluation of a learner and their performance caused by having an overly positive impression based on past results and/or flimsy evidence


the influence on results which a researcher's presence may create. This may be due to several factors such as the participants' desire to please or tendency to act differently from normal in the presence of the researcher. Research projects therefore are usually designed to minimise or avoid such effects.


a term most commonly associated with the work of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). It refers to the ways in which dominant groups in society achieve and sustain their status not by physical coercion but by cultural and social control such as influence in key bodies and organisations but more importantly in terms of ideas and discourse.


pertaining to interpretation or explanation.


relating to a method of teaching aimed at enabling learners to find out things for themselves. It is also a term used for an approach to problem-solving based on trial and error.


a term coined in 2007 by an Australian academic Stewart Hase for self-directed learning as opposed to teacher-led or teacher-directed approaches.

hidden curriculum

the by-products or unintended outcomes of schooling the learning experienced by learners which is beyond the formal or planned curriculum perhaps through assimilating the values explicitly and implicitly evident in a school and its processes and practices. It is often viewed as an insidious way by which children become socialised and acquire some of the (dominant) ideology of a society.


any system by which people are ranked one above the other (in terms of power and status) especially as evident in organisational structures (such as school management).

high school

a term no longer in use in the UK for a secondary school although some schools have retained the title. It was typically used in the past for a grammar school or independent school.

high stakes assessment

a test or system of testing which has important consequences for those taking part: for example it may lead to divergent future pathways in education to big rewards to stark intimations of success/failure to continuity in or removal from a course/institution. It is associated with anxiety and stress and may thus be prone to producing unreliable results.

higher education

education beyond the secondary level especially at college or university ( see tertiary).

higher order thinking

thinking that requires learners to manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their meaning and implications. This transformation occurs when students combine facts and ideas in order to synthesise generalise explain hypothesise or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation. Learners are encouraged to reason and apply knowledge in different ways (critical thinking problem-solving) rather than simply to repeat facts (see Bloom's taxonomy)


referring to the whole. A holistic approach to child education would attempt to deal with all aspects of the child's life including the personal. A holistic form of assessment is where the assessment item is graded as a whole rather than broken down into constituent parts each of which is then assessed individually.

home schooling/education

educational provision undertaken by the family rather than by state or private schools. As early legislation placed the duty on the parent to provide or secure education for the child this was permissible. Provision is still subject to inspection. Opinion is divided on the nature of the educational experience offered by home schooling concerns principally raised in relation to the capacity to provide effective social education and in cases where religious conviction is a key factor in the parental choice of home schooling to respect children's growing rights to freedom of expression and belief.


in educational management an arrangement which deals with learners of similar status such as in terms of age/stage: for example dealing with all of the one yeargroup rather than involving individuals from different year groups. A vertical pastoral system would mean a teacher dealing with learners from different stages of school whereas in a horizontal system the teacher would only deal with those from the one yeargroup.

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