Hawthorne effect

the influence on results which a researcher's presence may create. This may be due to several factors such as the participants' desire to please, or tendency to act differently from normal in the presence of the researcher. Research projects therefore are usually designed to minimise or avoid such effects.


a term most commonly associated with the work of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). It refers to the ways in which dominant groups in society achieve and sustain their status not by physical coercion but by cultural and social control such as influence in key bodies and organisations but more importantly in terms of ideas and discourse.


pertaining to interpretation or explanation.


relating to a method of teaching aimed at enabling learners to find out things for themselves. It is also a term used for an approach to problem-solving based on trial and error.

hidden curriculum

the by-products or unintended outcomes of schooling; the learning experienced by learners which is beyond the formal or planned curriculum, perhaps through assimilating the values explicitly and implicitly evident in a school and its processes and practices. It is often viewed as an insidious way by which children become socialised and acquire some of the (dominant) ideology of a society.


any system by which people are ranked one above the other (in terms of power and status), especially as evident in organisational structures (such as school management).

high school

a term no longer in use in the UK for a secondary school, although some schools have retained the title. It was typically used in the past for a grammar school or independent school.

high stakes assessment

a test, or system of testing, which has important consequences for those taking part: for example, it may lead to divergent future pathways in education, to big rewards, to stark intimations of success/failure, to continuity in or removal from a course/institution. It is associated with anxiety and stress and may thus be prone to producing unreliable results.

higher order thinking

thinking that requires learners to manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their meaning and implications. This transformation occurs when students combine facts and ideas in order to synthesise, generalise, explain, hypothesise or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation. Learners are encouraged to reason and apply knowledge in different ways (critical thinking, problem-solving) rather than simply to repeat facts (see Bloom's taxonomy)


referring to the whole. A holistic approach to child education would attempt to deal with all aspects of the child's life, including the personal. A holistic form of assessment is where the assessment item is graded as a whole, rather than broken down into constituent parts, each of which is then assessed individually.

home schooling/education

educational provision undertaken by the family rather than by state or private schools. As early legislation placed the duty on the parent to provide or secure education for the child, this was permissible. Provision is still subject to inspection. Opinion is divided on the nature of the educational experience offered by home schooling, concerns principally raised in relation to the capacity to provide effective social education and, in cases where religious conviction is a key factor in the parental choice of home schooling, to respect children's growing rights to freedom of expression and belief. In some countries, such as Germany, home schooling is illegal.


in educational management, an arrangement which deals with learners of similar status such as in terms of age/stage: for example, dealing with all of the one year-group rather than involving individuals from different year groups. A vertical pastoral system would mean a teacher dealing with learners from different stages of school, whereas in a horizontal system, the teacher would only deal with those from the one year-group.


descriptive of a classroom seating design where learners are seated in such a way as the overall pattern resembles a horseshoe shape. It means everyone can see everyone else; the teacher normally would be seated in the gap.

hot knowledge

a term for the sort of information gleaned from informal social interaction rather than from official documentation or sources. It has been identified as a key factor in the way parents and others form judgements about schools and their processes.


a controversial form of intensive educational provision aimed at accelerating learning, particularly in younger children. The approach can involve children being presented for public exams far earlier than would normally be expected or recommended.

human capital (theory)

a reductionist term devised by economist Theodore Shultz (1902-1998) which views people (employees) as capital, and so susceptible to improvement through investment in the form of training and education. The theory is that good investment will pay dividends for the individual in terms of future rewards and for society in terms of the improved economic productive capacity of such individuals.

human resources

a modern term for personnel management, including responsibility for staff recruitment, pay, and retirement or dismissal, and other aspects of employee conditions and organisational efficiency.


in philosophy, an outlook which stresses the intrinsic value, dignity, and rationality of human beings. It has become associated with atheism but (aspects of) humanism can be a feature of religious outlooks too.


learning or literature concerned with human culture, especially the study of Latin and Greek. The term is used more broadly nowadays to refer to all study of literature, history, art, music, and philosophy.


a supposition or proposed explanation which is used as the starting point for further investigation. A research project, for example, may be constructed to test out a particular hypothesis. In philosophical contexts, it is also a term for a proposition which is used simply as a basis for reasoning without any assumption that it is true.


supposed but not necessarily true; possible but not certain.