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The Complete Dictionary of Educational Terms and Their Meanings

The Complete Dictionary of Educational Terms and Their Meanings

When it comes to education, we often hear various terms thrown around in discussions about teaching methods, learning styles, and classroom technology. These terms, although familiar to educators, can be confusing for parents, students, and newcomers to the educational field. This article aims to demystify most of these terms to help everyone better understand the complexities of modern education.




The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. 


The method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education. 

Bloom's Taxonomy 

A classification of learning objectives within education proposed by Benjamin Bloom. It divides learning objectives into cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. 

Differentiated Instruction 

A teaching approach in which educational content, processes, products, and learning environments are tailored to the needs of individual students. 

Formative Assessment 

A range of formal and informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process to modify teaching and learning activities. 

Summative Assessment 

Assessment of participants where the focus is on the outcome of a program. 


A theory of learning based on the idea that learners construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. 


A teaching method that enables a student to solve a problem, carry out a task, or achieve a goal through a gradual shedding of outside assistance. 

Flipped Classroom 

A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. 

Inquiry-Based Learning 

An educational strategy in which students follow a process of asking questions, investigating solutions, and developing new understanding. 

Learning Styles 

The preferential way in which the student absorbs, processes, comprehends, and retains information. 

Kinesthetic Learning 

A learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations. 


Awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes. 

PBL (Project-Based Learning) 

A teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. 

Experiential Learning 

Learning through reflection on doing, which is often contrasted with rote or didactic learning. 

Cooperative Learning 

An instructional strategy in which small groups of students work together on a common task. 


A theory of learning which states all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment through conditioning. 

Cognitive Load 

The total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory. 

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) 

The difference between what a learner can do without help and what they can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. 


The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college. 


A guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests. 

Instructional Design 

The practice of systematically designing, developing, and delivering instructional products and experiences. 

21st Century Skills 

A set of abilities that students need to develop in order to succeed in the information age, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. 


Learning conducted via electronic media, typically on the Internet. 

Blended Learning 

An education program that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. 

Learning Management System (LMS) 

A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses or training programs. 

Socratic Method 

A form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. 

Authentic Assessment 

An approach to assessment that involves applying knowledge to real-world contexts and situations. 

Constructivist Learning Environment 

An environment where learners are active participants in their own learning process, building on their prior knowledge and experiences. 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) 

A framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. 

Competency-Based Education (CBE) 

An educational approach where students progress based on their ability to demonstrate competency in a subject area rather than time spent on coursework. 

Constructivist Teaching 

An approach where teachers encourage students to use active techniques to create more knowledge and reflect on their understanding. 

Discovery Learning 

A technique of inquiry-based learning and is considered a constructivist based approach to education. 

Holistic Education 

An approach to teaching that aims to nurture a person's intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative, and spiritual potentials. 

Synchronous Learning 

A learning event in which a group of students are engaging in learning at the same time. 

Asynchronous Learning 

A learning model where students learn at different times and locations. 

Hybrid Learning 

Combines face-to-face classroom instruction with online activities and content delivery. 

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) 

The blend of content and pedagogy that makes teaching effective. 

Learning Analytics 

The measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts. 


The use of game design elements in non-game contexts to enhance learning and engagement. 

Cognitive Development 

The construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making. 

Educational Psychology 

The study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, and the psychology of teaching. 

Multimodal Learning 

Using multiple modes or methods to enhance learning, catering to different learning styles. 

STEAM Education 

An approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. 

Adaptive Learning 

A method that uses technology to tailor educational experiences to individual student needs. 


A cluster of related abilities, commitments, knowledge, and skills that enable a person to act effectively in a job or situation. 

Cultural Competence 

The ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. 


A form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse. 

Hidden Curriculum 

The unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school. 

Inclusive Education 

An education system that works to include all students, regardless of their diverse needs. 

Interdisciplinary Teaching 

A method of teaching that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines. 

Learning Outcomes 

Statements that describe significant and essential learning that learners have achieved and can reliably demonstrate. 

Mastery Learning 

An approach that suggests students must achieve a level of mastery in prerequisite knowledge before moving forward to learn subsequent information. 

Peer Teaching 

A method by which one student instructs another student in material on which the first is an expert and the second is a novice. 

Prior Knowledge 

The knowledge that learners already have before they encounter new information. 

Self-Directed Learning 

A process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs. 

Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) 

The process of developing self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. 

Student-Centered Learning 

An approach to education focusing on the needs of the students rather than those of others involved in the educational process. 

Teacher-Centered Learning 

A traditional approach to education where the teacher is the main authority figure. 


A collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question about an assigned reading. 

Competency Mapping 

Identifying key competencies for an organization and its jobs and incorporating them throughout the various processes. 

Continuous Improvement 

An ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching 

A pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning. 

Diagnostic Assessment 

A form of pre-assessment that allows a teacher to determine students' individual strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills before instruction. 

Dual-Language Education 

An approach to education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. 


The ability to produce a desired or intended result in an educational context. 


The ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. 

Formative Feedback 

Information communicated to the learner that is intended to modify the learner’s thinking or behavior for the purpose of improving learning. 

Guided Practice 

An instructional approach that involves a teacher or expert leading learners through a task or process step-by-step. 

Heterogeneous Grouping 

Placing students of varying abilities together in groups. 

Homogeneous Grouping 

Placing students of similar abilities together in groups. 


A practice method where students mix, or interleave, multiple subjects or topics while they study to improve learning. 

Intrinsic Motivation 

The drive to engage in an activity because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable. 

Jigsaw Classroom 

A cooperative learning technique where students work in groups to teach each other segments of the material. 

Learning Community 

A group of people who share common academic goals and attitudes, who meet semi-regularly to collaborate on classwork. 

Metacognitive Skills 

Skills that allow learners to plan, monitor, and assess their own understanding and performance. 

Modular Learning 

A method where learning is broken down into smaller, self-contained units or modules. 

Multisensory Learning 

A teaching method that involves using more than one sense at a time to help learners process and understand information. 

Outcome-Based Education (OBE) 

An educational theory that bases each part of an educational system around goals (outcomes). 

Pedagogical Strategies 

Specific methods used in teaching to achieve learning objectives. 

Reciprocal Learning 

A method where learners take turns being the teacher and the student. 

Reflective Teaching 

A process where teachers think over their teaching practices, analyzing how something was taught and how it might be improved. 

Scaffolded Instruction 

A variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and independence in the learning process. 


A process in which students assess their own performance and learning. 

Service Learning 

A teaching method that combines community service with academic instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking, and personal and civic responsibility. 

Social Constructivism 

A sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructivism into social settings. 

Student-Led Conferences 

Meetings where students lead the discussion with their parents about their academic progress. 

Transactional Distance 

The theory that physical distance leads to a pedagogical and psychological distance in learning. 

Vicarious Learning 

Learning that is derived from indirect sources such as hearing or observing, rather than direct, hands-on instruction. 

Work-Based Learning 

A series of educational courses which integrate the school or university curriculum with the workplace to create a different learning paradigm. 

Active Listening 

Fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said. 

Behavioral Objectives 

Clear statements that describe desired learner behaviors in measurable terms. 

Blended Instruction 

Combining traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning activities. 

Cognitive Flexibility 

The mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. 

Conceptual Framework 

An analytical tool used to make conceptual distinctions and organize ideas. 

Contextual Learning 

Learning that occurs when teachers relate subject matter to real-world situations. 

Continuous Assessment 

The regular evaluation of student learning, typically conducted throughout the academic term. 

Creative Thinking 

The ability to think in new and original ways. 

Cross-Curricular Skills 

Skills that can be used in multiple subject areas, such as critical thinking and problem-solving. 

Curriculum Mapping 

A process for recording what content and skills are actually taught in the classroom. 

Data-Driven Decision Making (DDDM) 

Using data to inform decisions about curriculum and instruction. 

Developmental Milestones 

Skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range. 

Discipline-Specific Pedagogy 

Teaching methods specific to a particular discipline. 

Distributed Learning 

An educational approach where learning is distributed over time and locations, typically involving a mix of online and face-to-face interactions. 

Dual Enrollment 

Programs that allow high school students to enroll in college courses for credit prior to high school graduation. 

Ecosystem of Learning 

A system in which learning occurs in a variety of interconnected contexts, both formal and informal. 

Empirical Research 

Research based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than theory or belief. 

Facilitative Teaching 

An approach that emphasizes the teacher's role in supporting students in their learning process. 

Growth Assessment 

Evaluations aimed at measuring student progress over time. 

Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) 

An approach to science education that emphasizes questioning, exploring, and assessing to understand the natural world. 

Interdisciplinary Curriculum 

A curriculum that integrates the knowledge and skills of multiple disciplines. 

Learner Autonomy 

The ability of the learner to take charge of their own learning process. 

Learning Pods 

Small groups of students who learn together outside of the traditional classroom setting. 

Norm-Referenced Assessment 

Assessments that compare a student's performance to a group norm. 

Open-Ended Questions 

Questions that cannot be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no' and require more thought and elaboration. 

Outcome Mapping 

A methodology for planning, monitoring, and evaluating projects that aim to bring about social change. 

Peer Feedback 

Feedback provided by students to their peers based on their observations and assessments. 

Proximal Development 

The range of tasks that a learner can perform with the help and guidance of others but cannot yet perform independently. 


A cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information. 

Social Learning Theory 

The theory that people learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling. 

Spaced Learning 

A learning method where content is reviewed repeatedly over a period of time. 

Standardized Test 

A test that is administered and scored in a consistent manner to ensure legal defensibility. 

Student-Centered Learning Environment 

An educational approach designed around the needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles of the students. 

Teacher-Student Relationship 

The relationship between teachers and students, which can significantly impact learning outcomes. 

Visual Learning 

A learning style in which ideas, concepts, data, and other information are associated with images and techniques. 

Web-Based Learning 

Learning conducted via the internet. 

Whole Language Approach 

An approach to teaching reading that emphasizes literature and text comprehension. 

Experiential Learning Cycle 

A model that outlines the process of learning from experience, including stages of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. 

Learning Outcomes Framework (LOF) 

A structured guide for defining and evaluating the expected outcomes of learning processes. 

Adaptive Expertise 

The ability to apply knowledge and skills flexibly and innovatively in different situations. 

Affective Domain 

The area of learning that involves attitudes, values, and feelings. 

Apprenticeship Learning 

A system of training a new generation of practitioners in a structured way that includes practical and often manual instruction. 

At-Risk Students 

Students who are considered to have a higher probability of failing academically or dropping out of school. 

Authentic Learning 

Learning activities that are real-world tasks and have real-life relevance and application. 

Behavior Modification 

The use of empirical techniques to improve socially significant behavior through operant conditioning. 

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy 

An updated version of Bloom's Taxonomy, re-organized into a two-dimensional framework, focusing on knowledge dimensions and cognitive processes. 

Brain-Based Learning 

Teaching methods, lesson designs, and school programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns. 

Cognitive Apprenticeship 

A model of instruction that works to make thinking visible by modeling and coaching cognitive and metacognitive processes. 

Competency Framework 

A structure that sets out and defines each individual competency (such as problem-solving or teamwork) required by individuals working in an organization. 

Cultural Capital 

The social assets (knowledge, behaviors, and skills) that promote social mobility beyond economic means. 

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) 

An educational approach that considers the developmental levels of the children when planning and implementing activities. 

Differentiated Learning 

Instruction tailored to the learning preferences of different students. 

Disruptive Innovation 

Innovations that create a new market and value network, eventually disrupting existing markets and displacing established market-leading firms and products. 

Educational Equity 

The principle of fairness in education, providing equal opportunities for all students to succeed. 

Experiential Learning Theory 

A theory that posits learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. 

Flexible Grouping 

Grouping students together for a specific learning task based on their learning needs. 

Growth Mindset 

The belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. 

Hattie Effect Size 

A measure of the impact of different educational interventions based on John Hattie's research. 


The study of self-determined learning. 

Inclusive Pedagogy 

Teaching methods that aim to include all students, considering the diverse needs of learners. 

Interleaved Practice 

A practice method that involves mixing different topics or forms of practice. 

K-W-L Chart 

A graphical organizer designed to help in learning by tracking what students Know, what they Want to know, and what they have Learned. 

Learning Contract 

An agreement between a teacher and student that defines the work the student will accomplish and the reward for doing so. 


A relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or knowledgeable person. 

Multicultural Education 

An educational approach that integrates diverse cultural perspectives into the curriculum. 


An interdisciplinary field that combines neuroscience, psychology, and education to improve teaching methods and curriculum design. 

Phenomenon-Based Learning 

A multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning where students study a topic or phenomenon in a holistic manner. 

Proficiency-Based Learning 

A system where students advance based on their ability to demonstrate proficiency in a subject area rather than on time spent on coursework. 

Reciprocal Teaching 

An instructional activity in which students become the teacher in small group reading sessions. 

Spiral Curriculum 

A curriculum design where key concepts are presented repeatedly throughout the course, with each encounter increasing in complexity and reinforcing previous learning. 

Student Agency 

The level of control, autonomy, and power that a student experiences in an educational situation. 

Student Engagement 

The degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning. 

Teacher Efficacy 

A teacher's belief in their ability to promote students' learning and achievement. 

Teaching for Understanding (TfU) 

An approach that emphasizes deep understanding of concepts, ideas, and performances. 

Zone of Actual Development (ZAD) 

The level of development that the learner has already reached, where learning is dependent on their own ability to solve problems independently. 

Active Learning 

A teaching method that actively engages students in the learning process through activities and/or discussion in class. 

Anchor Charts 

Posters created with students during instruction to capture key points and strategies about the topic being studied. 

Backwards Design 

An instructional design method that starts with defining the desired end goals or outcomes and then works backward to develop instruction. 


A group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem. 

Case-Based Learning 

An instructional design approach where students apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

Concept Map 

A diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts, often used as a tool for organizing and representing knowledge. 

Constructivist Learning Theory 

A theory that posits learners construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiences and reflecting on those experiences. 

Core Curriculum 

The essential part of a curriculum that all students are required to study. 

Digital Literacy 

The ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies. 

Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) 

Research that investigates learning and teaching in a particular discipline. 

Efficacy in Education 

The belief that teachers and students can positively affect learning outcomes. 

Competency-Based Learning 

A system of instruction where students progress based on their ability to demonstrate competence in a skill or knowledge area. 

Differentiated Assessment 

Assessment methods that are tailored to the diverse learning styles and needs of students. 

Executive Function 

Mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. 

Flipped Learning 

An instructional strategy where students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school. 

Formative Evaluation 

An evaluation conducted during an instructional program to improve its design and performance. 

Inclusive Classroom 

A classroom where students of all abilities learn together. 

Inquiry-Based Instruction 

A teaching method that engages students in investigating real-world questions. 

Interdisciplinary Learning 

A learning approach that integrates multiple subjects into a single curriculum. 

Learning Walk 

A process where educators visit classrooms to observe teaching and learning. 

Mastery Assessment 

Assessment that measures if students have achieved a level of mastery in a subject area. 


A learning strategy that involves delivering content in small, specific bursts. 

Peer Review 

An evaluation process where students review each other’s work. 

Portfolio Assessment 

A method of assessment where students compile a collection of their work overtime. 

Project-Based Learning 

A dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges. 

Reflective Learning 

A learning process where students think about and critically analyze their learning experiences. 

Remedial Instruction 

Instruction intended to improve a learner's knowledge or skills in a specific area where they are struggling. 

Response to Intervention (RTI) 

A multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. 


A teaching method that combines community service with academic coursework. 

Social-Emotional Learning