Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

a metaphor used primarily in relation to study or learning characterised by thoroughness intensity and complexity (see deep learning surface learning).

derived score

a test result which has been subject to some modification perhaps related to norm-referencing as opposed to the raw score.


a term referring to a radical movement which flourished in the late 1960s early 1970s and which argued that compulsory schooling should be abolished principally because of its role in social control and indoctrination. A key proponent was Ivan Illich (1926-2002) who promoted the alternative of loosely-based community 'learning webs'.


the punishment of being kept at school after hours or during breaks. Critics question its value not least since it is established on the view that being in school is a punishment and so seems unlikely to encourage future attendance positive views of school or to promote the desire to benefit from school.


the philosophical view that all things including the human will are determined by causes. The word is also sometimes used in education for the view or actions and policies consistent with such a view that a learner's ability is (essentially) preset and open to limited change or development.


the process of growth or advancement - for example physical social cognitive emotional.

development plan

a detailed scheme usually prepared on an annual basis setting out ways in which an organisation group or person aims to change or improve. In some countries their use is a legal requirement for education authorities and schools.


descriptive of a system or instance where power duties responsibilities are passed to a lower level. At national level this can refer for example to parliamentary devolution ai educational administration it refers to the way in which power over certain matters such as budgets is passed from one level to another - from local council to school management or from school management to departmental or individual staff level (see delegation).


concerned with change or development over time ( see synchronic).

diagnostic assessment

an action or process aimed at identifying a particular problem or characteristic. For example it may involve testing for symptoms of a specific learning difficulty or disorder.


concerning logical reasoning and argument (see antithesis synthesis thesis).

dialectical materialism

a theory developed by Friedrich Engels (1820-95) and Karl Marx (1818-83) that matter (as opposed to mind) is fundamental as is change (historical political) which occurs through the social conflict of contradictions and their solutions.


in education this refers to the oral social interaction between teacher and learner. It is also a term used in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) for any approach which allows for different outlooks or viewpoints as opposed to a single  monologic 'truth'. This can be seen as aligned with critical pedagogy and opposed to an instructivist banking model of education.


a term usually pejorative for a teaching approach which is overly dogmatic  instructivist.


in education the process whereby teaching is adapted to suit the needs of different learners within a course lesson or classroom. It can involve modifying such things as the topic or subject matter the task or the levels of support provided.

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