Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
classical conditioning

a term from behaviourism for the process by which two stimuli are presented together until the reflex response to one stimulus occurs when the other is presented alone thereby creating a conditioned or learned response. The most common example is that of Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) whose dog learned to salivate at the sound of a bell it having previously been sounded simultaneously with the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus of food (see conditioning operant conditioning reinforcement).

classroom management

a term often understood as being focused on the control of pupil behaviour but it also refers to such things as the organisation of resources time furniture pupils   other staff visual display and administration.


a term synonymous with ethos.

closed question

usually used in the context of a teacher's oral interaction with learners where a single 'right' answer is expected. It is viewed as being of little value and restrictive especially when questioning is considered as an aid to learning rather than a test of learning. Even to test learning however a closed question lends itself to rote learning and is unlikely to probe understanding ( see open question higher order thinking ).

cloze procedure

a reading comprehension exercise requiring the participant to supply appropriate words to fit gaps that have been created in a text.


a modern term for a programme of extra-curricular activities which may be optional or compulsory.


the teaching of pupils of both sexes together in an educational setting.


a term borrowed from business management and personal development theory and itself imported from sport   which has gained educational currency in recent years. It refers to the training of an individual or group in a supportive but expert manner to improve performance or ability. Its attraction is probably because it can fit both constructivist and behaviourist approaches to learning: on the one hand it stresses the individual's active role in responding to the coach's input on the other hand it is susceptible to a process of conditioned responses where the coach systematically promotes improvement through a series of sequenced actions each supported by relevant reinforcement.


referring to the mind intelligence or mental processes.

cognitive constructivism

a form of constructivism which lays more emphasis on the mental processing involved in creating knowledge rather than on the social aspects of learning.

cognitive development

the (natural) growth of human intelligence or mental ability. A key figure in its study is Jean Piaget (1896-1980) who was interested in the change in a person's ability to learn from childhood to adulthood. He developed a theory to account for this process whereby a human acquires intelligence capacity for increasingly complex thinking and problem-solving ability from infancy to adulthood (see abstract accommodation assimilation concrete operational equilibration formal operational preoperational schema sensori-motor).

cognitive dissonance

psychological tension created by holding contradictory thoughts beliefs or attitudes particularly relating to a decision which has to be made or in relation to current behaviour or practice.


consistency logical interconnection. It is an important concept applicable in a whole range of educational spheres such as ideology theory practice and management.


working together jointly as opposed to individually or competitively.

collaborative learning

an approach where learners work on a task together dependent on and accountable to each other. Each learner contributes to and benefits from others' involvement in the activity.  It can be seen as aligned most obviously to social constructivist theory. While related tocooperative learning it is distinguished by the fact there is a common task and a single group result. Cooperative learning can involve separate tasks and individual outcomes although the process may be marked by shared activity and mutual support.

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