underachievement

a term used widely but imprecisely for cases of low attainment or for performance which is deemed to be less than anticipated should be the case in the circumstances. Identifying such expected performance is hugely questionable. The term also needs to be used carefully to take account of the socioeconomic, cultural, and personal issues which may be significant factors (see potential).

underclass

a term used for the most extremely disadvantaged social stratum.

undermatching

a phenomenon, especially noted in the USA, where students opt for courses which are of lower status, challenge, or reputation than that for which they would appear to be qualified.

understanding

a complex term which is normally used to signify a depth of knowledge or learning which includes a perception of the nature or cause or use or significance of the object of learning. It goes beyond awareness or recognition, implying a much fuller appreciation of meaning.

university

tertiary education institution, involved with advanced learning in numerous disciplines, conferring degrees in various faculties.

use theory

the idea, originating in behaviourism, that responses, functions, or associations that are practised, exercised or rehearsed will be strengthened compared to those unused.

usefulness

a term used for curriculum content or courses which are deemed to have practical value or to meet certain needs. However, such judgements are notoriously subjective, dependent on values which may not be universally shared (see instrumentalism).

utilitarianism

a moral theory, now having several variants, which holds that the rightness of an action depends on its consequences, specifically its contribution to increasing happiness, with the ultimate aim being the greatest happiness of the greatest number (see teleology, consequentialism, deontology).