Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

the rate of the presentation of material for learning or the rate of study speed of learning.

paired reading

an approach aimed at improving reading ability by matching readers together or by having a more able reader support a less able reader.


a term used variously. Sometimes it is a synonym for the 'hidden curriculum' but more correctly it refers to the out-of-school experiences which contribute to a learner's ability to benefit from schooling. It can also be part of a planned approach where the paracurriculum involves older students no longer in school but now in employment within an overall structure of educational support. In some college contexts it refers to additional modules in personal skills or creative activity which are not central components of a course of study.


a typical example or model of something a conceptual framework underlying the theories and practice of a scientific subject or area of inquiry.

paradigm shift

a complete change in or required in one's perception of a concept or way of understanding a phenomenon.


an apparent contradiction which is true or contains elements of truth. Any situation which contains contradictory elements or qualities.


of statistical procedures where the sample data under analysis is drawn from a population with a known form the normal distribution (see non-parametric).


key participants in state education not least because they have the legal obligation to provide their children with education through the state sector the independent sector or home schooling. The role of parents in schools has increased over past decades both through involvement in administration and management and through increased choice allowing parents more options regarding school placement for their offspring.

parish schools

in Scotland under an Act of 1696 schools established by local landowners and administered by local church officials. The state system did not originate until 1872.


      a term from ancient Greece meaning speaking freely or boldly. It was appropriated by Michel Foucault (1926-1984) who made particular use of it in the idea of 'speaking truth to power' a democratic means by which the dominant can be challenged.


a popular concept in modern governance stressing co-operation between interested parties and agencies involved in educational provision.

passive learning

a term associated with instructivist or transmission approaches to teaching where learning is largely inactive and receptive. It is also a term sometimes used for incidental learning where it occurs without the learner's active conscious effort.


pertaining to support provided to pupils and students relating to personal social vocational and curricular guidance.

path dependence

this is a phenomenon, found in a number of different fields, where past or traditional practice continues even when better options have become available or where the circumstances that gave rise to the original course of action no longer exist or have become irrelevant. In education, examples might be to do with curriculum content, teaching approaches, arrangements for professional development, or administrative procedures. It can also be applied to aspects of learners' behaviour. Sometimes called path dependency


the art, 'science', or principles and methods, of teaching. Some see it as having three key aspects: methodology, rationale, and reflection. In some contexts, the term is used more broadly for the science of education, didactics, or upbringing. One problem with understanding it as a 'science' is the implication that there are set formulae for teaching which can be applied in all circumstances. This is misguided, given the social complexities of learning, and so pedagogy as the 'art' of teaching may be less problematic in this regard, at least.

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