Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

the self-contained grounds and buildings of an educational institution. A single institution thus could have several campuses.


the conventionally-recognised standard works in a particular area of knowledge. It is a controversial area as what is deemed to comprise the canon can depend on cultural social and subjective bias. The term is also used for those works of a particular author which are recognised as genuine.


like aptitude this refers to an individual's perceived potential in some area of academic social or physical activity. Because its application is necessarily based on a judgement there are numerous dangers of bias and error.


the power to learn improve or achieve in some relevant area or sphere of human activity. Again an individual's perceived capacity is based on a judgement and so susceptible to all related problems ( see aptitude capability potential).


belief in or the fact of an economic system based on private ownership profit wage labour and free enterprise


the payment of money to an educational  institution the amount determined by the number of its pupils students or other relevant category of person. It is often called per capita funding.

care ethics

approaches to moral thinking which stress the importance of solidarity community and caring about those close to us as opposed to absolute universal standards. Originally it was seen as a feminist alternative to what was viewed as male-dominated bias around issues of justice in morality. It has however also been criticised by some feminists who view it as perpetuating the image of the 'softer' female stereotype.


a teaching approach which has a number of different activities or'stations' which individuals or groups visit and work on in sequence.


in teaching an approach where learning involves information or ideas being successively passed on and shared by learners. In broader educational settings it refers to any system of communication where information is passed from one level to the next. For example it is often associated with top-down approaches to curriculum development initiatives or policy-making.

case study

research involving the analysis of the development of a person group initiative or institution over a period of time.

catchment area

the geographical area from which a school's pupils are drawn.

category mistake

a term introduced by the philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) which refers to an error arising from referring to an object in terms appropriate only to something of a radically different kind. The error is to place something in a category to which it doesn't belong. Ryle held that Descartes' distinction between mind and body was just such a mistake looking for some entity separate from the body called a 'mind'.

central institutions

a term used in 20th century Scotland for a number of higher education colleges rather similar topolytechnics centrally funded by government offering degree-level courses usually in technical subjects. Many have since become universities in their own right or merged with existing universities. Those remaining are now known as centrally-funded colleges.


in any educational setting the concentration of control under a single authority. It could refer to a system where educational control is exercised predominantly or exclusively at national as opposed to local government levels. It could also feature in an institution where there is little devolved decision-making and power rests in a single figure or a small management group.


an approach to teaching where a relevant skill or practice is broken down into constituent parts each of which is then taught individually but linked to form a sequence. This lock-step approach is often influenced by behaviourist theories of learning.

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