Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

compliance with orders instruction and discipline. At one time this was a prime requirement of learners in educational institutions. It now tends to be couched in less stark terms with more of a collegial negotiated element but is still an issue for organisational effectiveness.

objective test

any form of examination where the scoring is not dependent on the marker's judgement or discretion. The choice and nature of the assessment items will have been subject to human involvement however and so the exercise is not as value-free and unproblematic as some may suppose.


the intended outcomes of teaching: statements of the knowledge skills and attitudes of these desired goals. They tend to be more specific than aims often involving the observable or the measurable. While seen as important for effective teaching their mechanistic and slavish use has been criticised as leading to a rigid approach which limits the dynamic exploratory nature of many learning experiences.


a range of philosophical views which have in common the view that there is an external reality which can be directly experienced and perceived. In ethical theory the view that values and duties hold or persist independently of our views of them (see subjectivism)


the removal of personal opinion judgement or bias in order to arrive at more precision. It is disputed how much this can be achieved in reality as even the framing of the situation in which objectivity is desired (such as a research project or an assessment) is subject to subjectiveinfluence.


duty what is required


the practice of removing a school student from a school roll. It is particularly associated with removing those whose (exam) performance may affect negatively the school's position in (published) league tables.


referring to learners behaviour where they lose focus on a relevant activity (usually set by the teacher) and engage in irrelevant action or conversation. ( see on-task)

old boy network

a generally pejorative term for the way in which the exclusive social and business relationships of former pupils of certain (usually independent) schools are used to preserve privilege and secure advantage.

old school tie

a generally pejorative term for the system of networking conducted by former pupils of certain (usually independent) schools to secure mutual personal social and business advantage.

omnibus school

a term from early 20th century Scottish education for a comprehensive state secondary school which served as the common school for an area. Similar schools in England and Wales were known as multilateral schools.


referring to learners behaviour where they remain focused on the specifics of a relevant activity as set by the teacher (see off-task).


the branch of metaphysics which deals with the study of what exists the assumptions about existence underlying a theory.

open education

provision which aims to remove barriers to knowledge and resources (see open learning), sometimes through easily-accessible online materials (see Mooc) or through providing open educational resources which can be used, re-used, or re-purposed without cost or permission.

open learning

a form of learning which does not require admission qualifications attendance at an institution and may not lead to assessment or certification. Examples would include correspondence courses distance learning and e-learning.

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