Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

in education this is the extent to which the aims assessment and teaching approaches of a course of study all fit together. Constructive alignment means that teaching methods and the assessment system share common principles. For example a course which aimed to produce learners capable of persuading others would need to be taught in a certain way and assessed appropriately: multiple-choice written test would not be in alignment in this case.

alternative education

a form of education different from that offered by the  state system. It may refer to radical or progressive approaches but can also be used to cover particular arrangements for learners for whom state provision is deemed or has proved to be unsuitable.

alumniá(pl.) /áalumnusá(sing.)

a Latin term used for the former pupils or graduate students of an educational institution. In the USA it includes schools but in Britain is normally reserved for university or college graduates.


an irregularity an illogical instance within an otherwise set regulated framework a deviation from a rule.


the identification and detailed examination of the constituent parts or elements of some phenomenon. It lies somewhere between description and critique.

analytic phonics

a method of teaching reading which involves breaking down words to detect phonetic patterns and then into smaller parts to aid decoding (see synthetic phonics).


a distinction drawn from the work of Immanuel Kant: an analytic statement is one true by definitio- 'all bachelors are unmarried' - whereas the truth of a synthetic statement requires confirmation by empirical fact- 'grass is green'.


a term no longer in favour used to refer to pedagogy in an adult learner context.


an irregularity an illogical instance within an otherwise set regulated framework a deviation from a rule.


a term from the work of sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) for a situation where social regulation has broken down and norms governing behaviour are unclear confused or absent. He associated it particularly with periods of social disruption such as economic depression. It has lately been used in relation to concerns about social exclusion or the so-called underclass.


the theory of the educational thinker Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) which stresses human spirituality. It is concerned with the inner search for spiritual freedom and the study of spiritual knowledge arising from this search (see  Steiner schools).


of behaviour or attitudes which are opposed to prevailing social norms.


a direct opposite or contrasting proposition. The term is also used in the theory of the philosopher Georg Hegel (1770-1831) as part of his triad of thesis  antithesis and synthesis.


a condition involving loss of speech or the understanding of speech.

aporiaá(noun) /áaporeticá(adj.)

a teaching approach dating from ancient Greece which aims at promoting learning through posing problems questions or properly a dilemma.

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