Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
attainment gap

a term which refers to the difference in academic attainment between learners from different social backgrounds. Empirical evidence for many years has pointed to this gulf between the academic attainment of those from middle-class backgrounds and those learners from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Politicians with a commitment to social justice see this as a problem to be addressed and are held to account for failing to do so effectively.

attendance

the act or frequency of being present in a formal educational setting. As attendance at school is compulsory for certain age groups and as a set level of attendance sometimes is a requirement for certain courses   accurate details require to be kept (see truancy).

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

(ADHD) a range of problem behaviours associated with short attention span. These may include impulsiveness restlessness inattentiveness and exaggerated physical activity.

attitude

a person's tendency to feel about certain people or situations in a particular way. The development of'positive' attitudes in relevant areas is seen as important for effective learning.

attrition

a term used to refer to the phenomenon of pupils or students not completing a course for various reasons. Attrition rates normally refer in percentage terms to the number who have withdrawn from or not completed a particular course of study.

audit

a review of an organisation's operations in order to assess efficiency and effectiveness. Now used more generally of any similar evaluation at any level.

aural

pertaining to hearing. An aural test would be where listening was the medium as opposed to written or visual material.

authentic

describing an activity or assessment procedure which involves students demonstrating their learning or skills in real-life situations or in tackling real-world problems. For example the task of designing a poster publicising an event would be authentic if it was intended to be used in relation to a real rather than imaginary occasion with which the student was involved.

authoritarian

describing an approach in education where the learner is largely excluded from decision-making or negotiation. The teacher or equivalent makes all the decisions in an autocratic dictatorial way. It can also refer to a managerial style in the same vein.

authority

a term with numerous meanings. In education it can refer to the power or right to make decisions and issue instructions and commands such as that vested in a local authority or in a post such as that of headteacher. It can also refer to an accepted or expert source cited in support of some viewpoint or opinion.

autism

a condition now recognised as encompassing  a wide spectrum which typically involves difficulties in communicating with others and in dealing with new experiences. Causes are unknown but much research currently centres around understanding it better and developing ways to support the education of learners with autism.

autodidact

a person who is self-taught. It may refer to one subject area but more commonly it is used in a general way.

autonomy

freedom to make own decisions and exercise informed choice. It can refer to one of the fundamental aims of human education but in educational settings it can often refer to the extent to which a teacher or equivalent is able to exercise their own professional judgement free of central direction or prescription.

axiom

 a tenet 'law' or established principle.

backwardness

a term no longer used for (significantly) below average performance in some approved global measure of scholastic aptitude or attainment. Terms such as 'low ability' are used in much the same way currently.

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