DEFINITION OF TERMS AND CONCEPTS
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Also, you can consult glossary of "Teaching Terms" from Georgetown University or PBS.
ACHIEVEMENT TEST: Test designed to evaluate mastery of a given body of material. Grades are generally based on achievement tests. The SAT (Stanford Achievement Tests) is an example of an achievement test. See also Aptitude Test.
ASSESSMENT: 1. Evaluation of student performance. 2. A component of the instructional environment that provides feedback which can be used to improve teaching and enhance learning. Various assessment activities ought to help us improve the learning experience and validate what appears to be working successfully. Assessments activities are often categorized as "formative" or "summative".
APTITUDE TEST: Test designed to predict how well students are likely to perform in some subsequent educational setting. The most common examples of aptitude tests are teh SAT-I and the ACT, both of which attempt to forecast how well high school students will perform in college. See also Achievement Test.
BEHAVIORISM: Learning theory that views learning as the accumulation of stimulus-response associations. Learning occurs by accumulating atomized bits of knowledge in a structured and hierarchical way. Motivation is external and based on positive reinforcement of many small steps. Teachers and instructional materials are the stimuli, the skills that students demonstrate are the response.
BENCHMARK LESSON: A memorable lesson that initiates students' thinking about the key content issues in the next set of class activities.
BIG IDEA: A desirable teaching goal that is clear and embodies certain intellectual priorities with lasting values because they have the power to explain phenomena. Big ideas are the core ideas of a topic. They are not obvious and are often time counter-intuitive to the novice. A big idea may be thought of as a linchpin (the device that keeps the wheel in place on the axle). See also Central Conceptual Structure.
CCENTRAL CONCEPTUAL STRUCTURE: A powerful organizing knowledge network that is extremely broad in its range of application and that plays a central role in enabling individuals to master the problems the domain presents. See also Big Idea.
COGNITION: 1. The process of knowing or perceiving. 2. Anything that is known or perceived.
CONSTRUCTIVISM: A theory that views learning as an active process of mental construction and sense-making based in part on prior-knolwdedge and social context. Learners master their inner values through personal activities (allowing for a process of internalization). Teachers direct and guide the individual activities of students, but they do not force their will on them or dictate to them. (See Vygotsky).
CRITERION-REFERENCED TEST: A test that evaluates performance relative to a pre-established standard. When we say that records in various sports keep getting broken, we are using a criterion based evaluation rather than a norm based evaluation. See also Norm-referenced test.
DEWEY ( ):
DIALECTIC: 1. The art or practice of examining options or ideas logically, often by the method of question and answer, so as to determine their validity. 2. The method of logic used by Hegel and adapted by Marx to his materialist philosophy: it is based on the concept of the contradiction of opposites (thesis and antithesis) and their continual resolution (synthesis). Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that a dialectical approach best explains the development of psychological processes.
DIDACTIC (Teaching): Mode of instruction emphasizing the teaching component of the teaching - learning transaction. There is considerable evidence that didactic teaching leads to passive learning. Didactic teaching is often contrasted to Discovery Learning. See also Guided Discovery.
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY: Branch of psychology concerned with the learning processes and psychological issues associated with the teaching and training of students. The educational psychologist studies the cognitive development of students and the various factors involved in learning, including aptitude and learning measurement, the creative process, and the motivational forces that influence student-teacher dynamics.
EDUCATIONAL PARADIGM: Overarching principles and assumptions that guide educational systems. Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned creativity specialist has contrasted the industrial educational paradigm guided by utility, linearity, conformity and standardization and the organic educational paradigm guided by vitality, creativity, diversity and customization.
EMPIRICAL: Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic. Syn.: Experiential, evidence-based, demonstrable.
EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE: (also empirical data or empirical knowledge) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical evidence is information that justifies a belief in the truth or falsity of an empirical claim. See more on Wikipedia.
EPISTEMOLOGY: The study or theory of the origin, nature, methods and limits of knowledge. Epsitemology addresses what it means to know and understand knowledge and understanding, and how knowledge differs from belief and opinion.
ETHNOCENTRISM: A belief in, or assumption of, the superiority of one's own social or cultural group..
FIELD-DEPENDENT (Learner): A field-dependent learner generally recognizes themes ("big picture"), without being as attentive to the details as a field-independent learner is.
FIELD-INDEPENDENT (Learner): A field-independent learner is analytical and attentive to details, but pays less attention to the context in which they are set (i.e., the "big picture") compared to a field-dependent learner.
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Qualitative (e.g., focus group or interview) or quantitative (e.g., test, questionnaire) assessment activities conducted to shed light on the effectiveness of specific aspects of an on-going classroom, project or any other goal-oriented enterprise. In a classroom setting formative assessment generally are not graded and are conducted for example as "informal" surveys. The purpose of formative assessment is to improve the process of teaching and learning.
GUIDED DISCOVERY: Instructional method in which the teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding the learning. Guided learning is a middle ground between didactic teaching and untrammeled discovery learning. See also uncoverage.
KNOWLEDGE: 1. The act, fact, or state of knowing; specifically, a) acquaintance or familiarity (with a fact, place, etc.), b) awareness and c) understanding. 2. All that has been perceived or grasped by the mind.
LEARN (to): To get knowledge of (a subject) or skill in (an art, trade, etc.) by study, experience or instruction.
LEARNING COMMUNITY: A learning community is constituted by a team of learners who are interacting in the learning and teaching process and characterized by an environment fostering mutual cooperation and a synergy of efforts towards common goals. In a way, classrooms are contrived versions of learning communities. Everyone in the community is a teacher as well as a learner; everyone is at some stage an actor and an audience.
METAGOGNITION: The ability to reflect on one's own learning experience.
METAPHYSICS: 1. Philosophy The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value. 2. A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis, or experiment.
MISCONCEPTION: See Misunderstanding.
NORM-REFERENCED TEST: A test that evaluates performance relative to a norm (i.e., an established "average") rather than an absolute scale.Typical intelligence tests are norm based tests. Achievement tests are also often norm based, but they attempt to measure acquisition of knowledge and skills. See also, Criterion-referenced test.
ONTOLOGY: The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.
PIAGET (1896 - 1980): One of the most significant psychologists of the twentieth century, Piaget researched the reasoning of elementary school children in the initiates20's. In 1950 he published "Introduction to Genetic Epistemology" or the study of the development of knowledge. (Read more about Piaget and his theory of child development).
PSYCHOLOGY: (1) The science that deals with mental processes and behavior. Research areas within the discipline include: quantitative and qualitative psychological research, cognitive psychology, comparative psychology, neuropsychology, personality and more. Psychology has been applied in setting such as clinical (diagnostic of mental disorders), counseling (personal and interpersonal functioning across life span), educational psychology, Industrial and organizational (psychological aspects of workplace issues), and so forth.
RELIABILITY (of a test): Reliability is synonymous with the consistency of a test (survey, observation, or other measuring device). Most simply put, a test is reliable if it yields the same results across time and space (i.e., when administered to different subjects in different locations). If as test is not reliable it is also not valid.
RESEARCH: A systematic investigation including development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
RUBRIC: Rubrics are assessment tools for reports, take-homes, essays and other forms of original student writ tings. Rubrics are sets of "criteria" that will be used in evaluating the work (e.g., organization, introduction/conclusion, style, grammar, etc.). For each criterion, point, letter grade or qualitative feedback (e.g.,basic, minimal, proficient, advanced) are assigned based on the extent to which the author has risen to a clearly stated level of expectation. Rubrics provide students with an understanding of how their writing will be assessed, they can help cut down on grading time and ensure more objective grading practices of literary efforts. See example of a grading rubric from a History class or from an English Composition class.
SCAFFOLDING: Building process by which new knowledge is acquired only after it has been connected to pre-existing knowledge. It is the more knowledgeable person or peer that provides the intellectual scaffolding that allows a learner to move through a zone of proximal development and acquire new knowledge.
SEMIOTIC: Consisting of signs and symbols or sign-symbol systems such as gestures, language, mathematical sign systems, and mnemonic techniques. According to Vygotsky, psychological tools are used to gain mastery over one's own behavior and cognition. Psychological tools have a semiotic nature.
STEREOTYPE THREAT: The event of a negative stereotype about a group to which one belongs becoming self-relevant as a plausible interpretation for something one is doing, for an experience one is having or for a situation one is in. To experience stereptype threat, one need not believe in stereotype nor even be worried that it is true of oneself. Consider what the well-know African Ameircan social pyschologist James M. Jones 1997) wrote: When I go to the ATM machine and a woman is making a transaction, I think about whether she will fear I may rob her. Since I have no such intention, how do I put her at ease? May be I can't ... and may be she has no such expectation. But it goes through my mind.
SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Qualitative (e.g., term paper, essay questions) or quantitative (e.g., multiple choice) assessment activities conducted to shed light on level of performance of individuals in a classroom, a project or any other goal-oriented enterprise. In a classroom setting, a summative assessment is generally graded and can be conducted as a quiz at the end of a unit, as a midterm in the middle of the semester, or as a final exam at the end of the semester.
TEACHER: Figuratively, a teacher is a designer, architect and contractor of a learning environment intended to facilitate learning.
UNDERSTANDING: A mental construct, an abstraction made by the human mind to make sense of many distinct pieces of knowledge. Pieces of knowledge become understanding when together they have acquired a new (more elaborate) meaning. For example, one may know the meaning of the words (pieces of knowledge) without understanding the sentence (meaning) . Understanding is about making meaning and transferring knowledge to other problems, tasks, and domains. See also Misunderstanding.
VALIDITY (of a test): Validity refers to the degree in which a test (or measuring device) is truly measuring what we intended it to measure. Test validity is requisite to test reliability. If a test is not valid, then reliability is moot.
VYGOTSKY, Lev (1896 - 1934): Russian psychologist whose views regarding the social contexts of learning and developing have been widely assimilated by cognitive and educational psychologists in the U.S. According to Vygotsky, "Learning is not development; however, properly organized learning results in mental development and sets in motion a variety of development processes that would be impossible apart from learning."
ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT: This concept was put forth by Vygotsky as he applied his theoretical constructs to practical problems of educational psychology. The zone of "next or nearest" development is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.