Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

 disturbance to educational activity especially that caused by behavioural problems.


the spreading of something widely. In education it can refer to information such as policy or research findings or to good practice.

distance learning

any programme of study where the learner does not require to be 'on site' to undertake the course. There are various different formats such as through the medium of email videoconferencing online or correspondence courses.


having no finite limits. Divergent questioning means asking 'open' questions without a simple factual answer in mind aimed at genuinely eliciting opinion thoughts. Divergent thinking is similarly free of pre-set restrictions. Divergent assessment involves asking open questions or setting tasks which are open-ended allowing for original responses (see convergent)


having many differences heterogenous. In education it has been used to reflect a multi-ethnic multi-cultural school population but has also been used in relation to school provision which allows for many different types of schools to exist or be developed.


very authoritative opinionated and assertive without proof. It can be a feature of certain types of teaching but also can be evident in pupil/student work such as essays.


a field of thought or activity. Educational domains traditionally covered the cognitive  affective and psychomotor. Subject disciplines such as history or science can be termed domains ( see also forms of knowledge).

Down's syndrome

a congenital disorder which has certain cognitive and physical effects. As its manifestations are varied some children with the syndrome are able to attend mainstream schools whereas others may require to attend special schools.


an obsolete term for physical education particularly of the form of mass exercise in the manner of military training. Also a term for certain repeated procedures in types of rote learning  such as a 'spelling drill'.


this term is used particularly with reference to motivation. In education it is used for any action feature or phenomenon which stimulates or triggers an activity feeling or outcome. For example something may said to be a driver of pupil engagement.


the state of being in two parts or a doctrine belief which holds this. It can refer to theories and beliefs in numerous areas such as religion morality and politics. Typical examples of dualism would be a belief in good and evil or in the separation of mind and body or of the material and the spiritual

duty of care

 a legal term in education which refers to the obligation to use a level of care towards pupils/children that any reasonable and prudent person would use to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm.

dynamic testing

an iterative form of assessment where the learner is given feedback and support expressly to enable them to improve as part of a planned sequence (see similarities to formative assessment and to the zone of proximal development).


difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematical ideas. It can involve difficulty in performing arithmetical operations or more fundamentally with 'number sense' so that conceptualising numbers whether as abstract ideas or as quantities is problematic.


a neurological deficiency in language use usually manifested in difficulties with reading and spelling. It is somewhat controversial as some dispute that is can be distinguished satisfactorily from those merely manifesting weak reading and spelling skills which have no neurological basis.

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