Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
congruent teaching

an approach, most common in teacher education courses, where what is being taught is mirrored by how it is taught. For example, teaching students about groupwork is done through the medium of groupwork; another example would be teaching about cooperative learning through having the students cooperate together. The term is sometimes used in the general sense of the expectation that teacher educators should model good practice for their student teachers.

consensus theory

the view that social cohesion is essentially founded on a body of values which are in line with the views of all or most members of a particular society. This can be seen as supportive of or in line with a relativist moral position where morality is flexible dependent on social context and social change. It is associated with the views of Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).


a term used for theories of morality which see good bad right and wrong as determined by the consequences or outcomes of one's action. Utilitarianism is an example of a consequentialist theory. It contrasts principally with deontological theories which view moral worth as independent of consequence and more related to such issues as will intention duty.


an outlook which is resistant to or cautious about change and supportive of traditional values.


the quality or fact of being unchanging (over time) in terms of standards or nature. It is an important concept in behaviour management assessment or logic   for example.


most commonly used in education for the arrangement whereby a number of institutions form an association for mutual benefit especially in terms of offering a wider choice of curricular subjects than each could do alone.


a theory which regards learning as an active process where the learner constructs and internalises new concepts ideas and knowledge based on their present and past experiences. Learning is not a received object but a created process. Two main forms of the theory arecognitive constructivism and social constructivism. More generally in the social sciences it can also refers to a range of approaches which view elements thought to have objective reality as instead being  social or cultural 'constructs'.


the view that ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy amaterialistic outlook which values the acquisition of goods and possessions.


dependent on something not yet certain  conditional accidental not necessary.

contingent teaching

an approach to teaching where the direction of the session is determined by learners' responses so that the teacher adapts planning in the light of continuous monitoring of learners' situation and needs (see also responsive planning).

continuous assessment

an ongoing process of identifying the knowledge skills or attitudes of a learner as opposed to one based on specific discrete testing. It is often though to be a fairer system for those who react in abnormal ways to tests and also more reliable as it depends on a body of evidence rather than data from a single test. It can be problematic however as it is can lack robustness and itsreliability can also be affected by subjective teacher impressions.

continuous professional development (CPD)

in education the ongoing process whereby teachers and others upgrade and develop their professional knowledge and skills. Nowadays it tends to refer to an organised system as opposed to being a voluntary or optional extra. Thus while it may address issues of lifelong learning and personal development it is also motivated by a political concern for accountability in the public sector generally and specifically designed to counter the historical phenomenon that teachers once qualified had no requirement or incentive to 'improve' or keep up-to-date.


a form of privatisation where an element of a public organisation's work is carried out by a private firm.


an approach to social and moral theory which understands the state and the rule of law in terms of a reputed agreement between the individual and society by which certain potential individual freedoms are sacrificed for the mutual benefits which flow from such a 'contract'. It features in the work of Thomas Hobbes John Locke Jean-Jacques Rousseau and informs the work of more modern theorists such as John Rawls. Its influence can be seen in approaches tobehaviour management such as school students being involved in drawing up their own school and classroom rules and more overtly in disciplinary approaches which involve individuals signing contracts regarding their future behaviour.


in education this most usually refers to the organised purposive management of learners and learning environments by a teacher. It is most often understood as the authoritative direction and ordering of pupil behaviour. Like discipline  it is a term which sits uneasily with modern conceptions of freedom and equality and rights. Critics of state education often point to the role of schooling in social control.

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