Glossary of Terms
Andragogy - an educational approach characterized by learner-centeredness (i.e., the student's needs and wants are central to the process of teaching), self-directed learning (i.e., students are responsible for and involved in their learning to a much greater degree than traditional education), and a humanist philosophy (i.e., personal development is the key focus of education). Related concepts include: facilitated learning, self-directed learning, humanism, critical thinking, experiential learning, and transformational learning.
Active Learning - In traditional or pedagogical education, material to be learned is often transmitted to students by teachers. That is, learning is passive. In active learning, students are much more actively engaged in their own learning while educators take a more guiding role. This approach is thought to promote processing of skills/knowledge to a much deeper level than passive learning. Related terms/concepts include: experiential learning, hands on learning.
Authentic Learning - In this type of learning, materials and activities are framed around "real life" contexts in which they would be used. The underlying assumption of this approach is that material is meaningful to students and therefore, more motivating and deeply processed. Related terms/concepts include: contextualized learning, theme-based curriculum.
Affective Domain - This domain relates to how individuals feel emotionally and physically while learning. This includes both internal factors (e.g., physical - hunger, thirst, fatigue, and illness; psychological - willingness to take risks, persistence and attention abilities; attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions) and external factors (e.g., physical - comfort concerns such as temperature, noise and light levels, amount and type of distractions; psychological - personal style of others, stressful situations at work or home, support from others).
Behaviorism - the focus of this philosophical orientation to teaching is on developing certain predetermined behaviors. It is characterized by question and answer, repetitious activities such as drills and memorization, and immediate feedback. The teacher is solely responsible for setting learning objectives and assessing skills/knowledge. Related terms/concepts include: pedagogy, directed learning.
Cognitive Domain – This domain concerns to how individuals think; their intellectual capabilities, level of development and preferred thinking styles. Related terms/concepts include: cognitive or thinking styles, intellectual development, critical thinking.
Contextualized Learning – In this approach, material is taught in the context in which it would be used in “real life.” The underlying assumption is that the context provides meaningfulness to abstract information, making it more concrete and therefore, easier to learn. Related terms/concepts include: theme-based learning, authentic learning, experiential learning.
Critical Thinking/Reflection – refers to a deep level of engagement in thinking Related terms/concepts include: deep level processing, andragogy, facilitated learning.
Curriculum – refers to both the content (the material to be learned), and process of learning (the actions and resources involved in teaching and learning).
Deep level processing – refers to a significant degree of cognitive processing of material to be learned, well beyond simple memorization and application (i.e., rote learning or surface level processing), to analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Related theory: Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Related concepts: intellectual development, critical thinking.
Directed Learning – Educational environments that are characterized by the teacher in the role of expert and authority figure, transmitted knowledge and passive learning, standardized curriculum, and mastery of content. Related terms include: pedagogy, teacher-centeredness, behaviorism, and passive learning.
Dualistic Thinking – The first of three stages in William Perry’s model of intellectual development. Characterized by “black and white” thinking (i.e., there is one correct answer), the teacher as an authority figure responsible for passing the truth along and transmitting knowledge to students, and a behaviorist approach. Related concepts/terms include: black and white thinking, surface level processing, lower order thinking.
Experiential Learning –involves the student in his/her learning to a much greater degree than in traditional (pedagogical) learning environments. Related terms/concepts include: active learning, hands on learning, deep level processing, higher order thinking.
External Motivation – Motivation comes from outside the learner in the form of tangible rewards and punishments such as competition, grades, awards, promotion, pay, etc.
Facilitated Learning – is an approach characterized by a high degree of involvement by students in all aspects of their own learning (e.g., setting objectives, assessment). The teacher adopts the role of a “guide on the side” who provides resources and support to learners. Related concepts include: self-directed learning, experiential learning, and andragogy.
Formal Learning – Learning that is conducted/sponsored by an educational or training organization and leads to some form of recognized certification such as a degree, diploma or certificate.
Humanism – a philosophical orientation to education which holds that the purpose of education is to enhance personal growth and development. This growth of this philosophy among educator led to a swing from teacher-centered to learner-centered learning environments. Related terms/concepts include: learner-centeredness, transformational learning, and facilitated learning.
Inclusive Learning Environments - based on the notion that the educator must adjust the learning environment so that all learners can thrive regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, cognitive and/or physical abilities. Related concepts include: equality in and access to education, humanism, and learner-centeredness.
Informal Learning – Occurs in everyday life and may not even be recognized as learning by the individual. For example, using a television guide may not be equated by an individual as having learned how to use a table. Related concepts/terms include: incidental learning.
Internal Motivation – Learners are motivated from within by personal needs/wants that are positive in nature such as a desire to succeed, love of learning, a feeling of accomplishment, or negative such as fear of failure.
Learner-centeredness – an approach to teaching in which the needs and wants of learners are incorporated into the learning process. Students are actively involved in their own learning rather than passive recipients of knowledge/skills. Related terms/concepts include: self-directed learning, inclusive learning environments, and andragogy.
Learning styles – refers to an individuals preferred manner of processing material, or characteristic style of acquiring and using information when learning. Learning styles can be loosely grouped into physical and cognitive styles. Related terms/concepts include: multiple intelligences.
Liberalism – this philosophy of education proposes that the purpose of education is to develop the intellect. The teacher is viewed as an expert and the authority in the classroom whose responsibility it is to direct the learning experience.
Multiple intelligences – this theory proposes that humans possess more than one type of intelligence. Popularized by Howard Gardner who suggested seven different types of intelligence (i.e., visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal), spanning three domains (i.e. the physical, cognitive and affective domains). Related terms/concepts include: learning styles.
Multiplistic Thinking - learners at this stage (Stage 2) of William Perry’s model of intellectual development accept that there are multiple truths (versus one ultimate truth as in dualistic thinking). Learners do not fully comprehend the underlying argument of these “truths” however, and cannot judge their merits well. The teacher is viewed as being in possession of these multiple truths and responsible for guiding students to them.
Non-reflective Learning - demands very little thinking on the learners part such as when material is memorized or a simple task is performed. Material is only processed or a skill learned at a surface level. Related concepts: rote learning, surface level learning, lower order thinking.
Pedagogy – an educational approach characterized by teacher-centeredness. The teacher is viewed as an authority figure and students are not generally involved in decisions/actions in regard to learning. Related concepts include: directed learning.
Physical Domain – relates to the five senses and physical being of learners.
Process – refers to how to think (organize, analyze, evaluate, research, frame and solve problems), rather than what to think (i.e., learning a specific skill or content) in regard to learning.
Progressive Philosophy of Education – proposes that the purpose of education is to help the learner develop practical knowledge and problem solving skills.
Radicalism – a philosophy of education in which the purpose of education is to bring about social, political and economic change.
Reflective Learning – refers to a great or deeper degree of processing of material to be learned. Whereas in non-reflective learning, material is simply taken in with little or no active thinking (e.g., memorization) or understanding, reflective learning engages a large amount of the learners thinking or cognitive capacities. Related terms/concepts include: deep level processing, critical thinking, relativistic thinking.
Relativistic Thinking – Knowledge in this stage of William Perry’s model of intellectual development is considered to be relative and situational. Learners critically reflect on multiple perspectives and determine the most suitable answer in a particular situation. Related concepts: deep level processing, critical thinking.
Rote Learning – learning in a mechanical fashion through repetition (e.g., memorization, practice drills). Related term: surface level processing, non-reflective learning.
Self-directed Learning – A learning environment in which students are given a great deal of responsibility for and input into their own learning. The role of the teacher becomes to facilitate or guide learning rather than direct it. Related terms/concepts include: andragogy, facilitated learning, learner-centeredness.
Surface level processing – skill/knowledge is learned at a fairly simple level, involving little of the cognitive, affective or physical capacities of the learner. Related term: rote learning, lower order thinking.
Teacher-centeredness – A learning environment in which is the teacher is the authority in the classroom and directs all aspects of the learning environment including setting goals, determining objectives, assessment, etc. Related terms/concepts: pedagogy, behaviorism, liberalism.
Theme-based Curriculum - material that is framed around topics related to learners' immediate needs and/or wants (e.g., parenting, employment, financial management, health and nutrition). Related terms/concepts: authentic learning, learner-centeredness.
Transformative Learning – engaging in learning to purposively question one’s own assumptions, beliefs, feelings, and perspectives in order to grow or mature personally and intellectually. Related terms/concepts: critical thinking.