Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

a term no longer used for (significantly) below average performance in some approved global measure of scholastic aptitude or attainment. Terms such as 'low ability' are used in much the same way currently.


a negative effect that assessment may have on teaching and learning. For the teacher it manifests itself in 'teaching to the test'. For the learner it may involve solely concentrating on what the test will cover either in terms of content or skills to the exclusion of all else. Constructive alignment is a concept designed in part to counteract such an effect.

bad faith

a concept from the work of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) which refers to a particular kind of self-deception whereby the individual denies their own freedom or their capacity to make a free choice or to change.


a digital means of recognising achievements such that they can be displayed online. Essentially, it is an internet version of the merit system common to such groups as The Scouts.


a key term in curriculum planning if the aim is to ensure that the constituent elements of the curriculum are given due weighting. However without knowledge of a learner's activities beyond the formal educational setting such a concept remains merely hypothetical or partial.


broad banding is an approach to grouping learners where perceived ability is not the only criterion used although it may be the most significant. Other factors in constructing groups may be influential such as gender racial and ethnic balance as well as the perceived motivation effort and behaviour of the learners involved (see mixed ability setting streaming).


in education it normally refers to any store of material or information such as teaching or assessment resources.

banking model

a pejorative term from the work of Paulo Freire (1921-1997) referring to instructivist views of teaching where knowledge or'learning' is simply deposited in passive receptive learners.

baseline assessment

this usually refers to the assessment of children when they first enter primary school. It is used to provide information about levels of readiness for learning to identify pupils who may experience difficulties in school and to provide a baseline against which future progress can be measured. In this last sense the term can be used generally to refer to any assessment designed to establish performance prior to engaging in some learning activity experience course or programme.


that which is deemed to be the fundamental elements of a curriculum such as the three Rs of reading writing and arithmetic.

begging the question

a fallacy in which one already assumes what is still to be proved.  The phrase is often used wrongly in the sense of raising or triggering a question.

behaviour management

a term used to refer to the approaches systematically used by teachers to control and shape learners' behaviour. It is mostly associated with establishing an effective environment for learning but because of some of the social expectations of schooling teachers especially in the early years are expected to teach behaviour in the sense of enabling and supporting children to act in socially accepted ways. It is a term seen as more appropriate than discipline but recently it has also been questioned because of its association with dubious social practices such asconditioning and manipulation.

behaviour modification

in education an approach to changing the perceived inappropriate behaviour of a learner principally through a process of reinforcement. It is thus an approach informed by behaviourism.


a generic name for theories of learning which stress observable behavioural responses and do not deal with 'unobservables' such as mental states or motivation. Key theorists were John B. Watson (1878-1958) E. L.Thorndike (1874-1949) and B.F.Skinner (1904-1990) who practised in the early to middle years of the 20th century. Learning is understood as being a response to a stimulus which engenders that response. It was heavily influenced by experimentation with animals such as dogs rats and pigeons (see conditioning stimulus-response).

bell-shaped curve

see normal distribution

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