Glossary & Abbreviations

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A-B         C-D         E-F          G-H        I-J           K-L          M-N       O-P        Q-R        S-T          U-V        W-X       Y-Z

The following terms are used in this book. You may be particularly interested in the definitions of learning outcomes, learning objectives, and learning goals as their use differs so much between institutions.


Active learning – using student activities to encourage thinking about the content (Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, 1993). Not all active learning is transformation, but all transformational learning is active (See A3: Active and Transformative Learning).

Assessment and evaluation – assessment and evaluation are often used interchangeably and can mean evaluation of student learning, evaluation of the instructor, and evaluation of the course.

Assessment of student learning – for students, assessment provides an awareness of how well they are understanding and learning what is expected. For instructors, assessment can provide an awareness of student learning gaps and progress. For the institution, a student’s final grade provides important tracking for measuring student (and instructor and institution) progress. In HE, we typically use formative and summative assessments. Assessment options are discussed in Unit C.

Assessment of teaching – to improve student learning, we must be aware of how well we have designed the course and how well we are teaching. The fifth step in the IDI model, W5 – How Did It Go? and C12: Improving the Course & Your Teaching discuss options and provides details.

Attitude – how students think and/or feel. The attitude domain of learning is important in many areas of life.  Ex.: how to talk with a patient compassionately (discussed further in A6: Taxonomies / Domains).


Class – a single meeting/session of a course. Class is also used to refer to all students in a course offering.

Class outline –an outline or plan for a single topic or unit within the course and may be formatted as a lesson plan. The time required to ‘cover’ the outline may be 1 or more classes or modules. Typically, each class outline will include the flow of activities and topics, timing, and perhaps a list of required materials and preparation notes. These are discussed further in the W4.1: Develop & Teach Course step.

Cognition load – the flow of information from short-term memory to long-term memory. This also theorizes on the amount (load) of information that a person can process short-term, how the brain determines what to pay attention to, what happens when a person gets too much information and what happens when information received conflicts with information currently in long-term memory. Discussed in A8: Cognition Load. This includes information on Cognitive load, cognitive dissonance, and executive functioning.

Competency factors – competency usually requires a combination of factors of learning, often defined as skills, knowledge, and attitudes (SKAs). The term SKA is used to describe what a student needs to learn. Each factor has a range of complexity, defined by Bloom’s Taxonomies (discussed A6: Taxonomies /Domains).

Competency– the ability level to do something successfully, as opposed to how well a student thinks they can do something (confidence). Discussed in A9: Student Competency.

Confidence – how well a student thinks they can do something. Student awareness of (confidence in) their competence occurs in stages. Discussed in A9: Student Competency.

Course – a series of classes/sessions on a specific topic. Examples: “Fundamentals of DC Circuits” or “Learning and Human Development”.

Course of study/Program – series of courses that leads to a qualification such as certification or bachelors. Examples: “Primary Industry Skills (Level 2) – Agriculture” or “Adolescent-to-Young Adult Education”.

Course offering – a unique offering of a course. Often a course will have too many students for a single course offering, so additional offerings will be offered during the same term.

Deep learning – rather than memorizing facts (surface learning), this focuses on understanding the context and identifying how different contexts might require differences in application (DeWitt, 2016).


Educational technologist (ET) – staff members, often in IT, who can provide guidance on selection and use of educational technologies, such as the LMS and videoconferencing.

Emergency remote teaching – during the pandemic, most institutions required that all courses were asynchronous and online. Because instructors were given very little time and support to move courses online using a sound pedagogy or instructional design, these are not the same as courses using a fully online model

Epistemology – the theory of knowledge that involves thinking about knowing and knowledge. Discussed further in A7: Student Epistemological Growth.

Executive functioning – the mental process that manages how people plan and focus. Discussed more in A8: Cognition Load.

Feedback – information provided to students based on their performance. Providing students with feedback on their progress can be one of the most significant methods to improve their learning. This is discussed in C7: Feedback on Student Assignments & Assessments.

First day –the first day of the term provides an opportunity to set the stage for the rest of the course. C4: The First Class Session  includes some suggestions.

Foundational outcomes – many institutes also require that their students achieve learning outcomes that are not specific to their discipline. For example, a common requirement is that students learn some basic oral communication skills. In this workbook, these are referred to as Foundational Outcomes, but these requirements might be listed in your institute as Foundational, VALUE, or Common Requirements, or may have a different title. Discussed further in C2: Learning Goals, Outcomes, & Objectives.


Good teaching practice –Chickering & Gamson (1987) developed a list of 7 principles which are considered a good, general basis for all instructors. Using research reports from over 800 studies, Hattie found three strategies which made the most significant difference in student learning. These principles are discussed in B2: Good Teaching Practice.

Group work – students are often grouped for short or long-term work. B4: Inclusivity & Diversity in the Classroom and C6: Lectures, Activities, Assessments & Assignments include some suggestions for supporting group learning.


IMPACT – Instruction Matters – Purdue Academic Course Transformation – a Purdue University project to support instructors in redesigning courses for active and transformational learning.

Inclusivity – most institutes are now calling on instructors to provide an inclusive, welcoming environment. This calls for an awareness and understanding of the differences which students bring to the class. Definitions and instructor strategies are discussed in B4: Inclusivity & Diversity in the Classroom.

Instructional design (ID) helps faculty understand the various pedagogies that can be used to help students learn, and different ways of using different technologies to implement these pedagogies. (Meyer, 2013, p. 3). IDI, discussed in Unit W, is an ID model.

Instructional designers (IDs) – staff who have experience in sound educational practices in a higher education setting. Depending on their role, IDs can support you by designing and developing your online course following your guidelines, direct you on sound educational practices and active learning, and effective use of educational technologies.

Instructional Systems Design (ISD) – a systematic approach to developing instruction to maximize learning. A project management approach that incorporates learning theories and principles.

Integrated Threshold Concept Knowledge or ITCK – a method specifically for HE to support students facing threshold concepts (TCs).


Knowledge – knowledge is use of information that has been stored in long-term and short-term memory.  This includes facts, information, and skills. Ex.: how to interpret a patient’s chart. Knowledge is one of the factors required for competency (discussed further in A7: Student Epistemological Growth and A6: Taxonomies / Domains).

Learning – learning is adding knowledge, skills, and attitudes to existing schema. Kidd said (1973, p.15) “Learning means change. It is not simply a matter of accretion – of adding something. There is always reorganization or restructuring. There may be unlearning.”

Learning Management System – (LMS) – online software used by instructors to provide students with learning materials such as the syllabus, readings, videos, assignments, etc. (such as Canvas, Blackboard Learn, Moodle or Desire-to-Learn/D2L). Use of an LMS may range from a completely online course to a course with just the syllabus available.

Learning model – the basic format of your classes. For example, common approaches include lecture-based, problem-based, and case-based. See B3: Design Principles for more information.

Learning outcomes or learning objectives and learning goals –the definitions for learning goals, outcomes, and objectives are not universal across universities or even within a campus. This workbook uses the following definitions (details on writing these – C2 and worksheets in W2.1 2.1a – Outcomes, 2.1b -Measurable Objective Format, and 2.1c – Outcomes to Objectives):

  • Learning outcomes refer to the large or overarching goals you have for your course.
  • Learning objectives – Here, we use this term to mean the more concrete or specific goals which make up a learning outcome. So, for each learning outcome, you likely will have several learning objectives.

Lesson plan – this is an outline for a single topic or unit within the course, sometimes referred to as a class outline. The time required to ‘cover’ the outline may be 1 or more classes or modules. Typically, each class outline will include the flow of activities and topics, timing, and perhaps materials and preparation notes. These are discussed further in the W4.1 Develop & Teach Course step.

Load – the mental, physical, and emotional demands on a person. Discussed in A11: Load, Power, and Margin.


Major – area of course concentration. Examples: “Beekeeping” or “Integrated Language Arts”.

Margin – the relationship between the Power and Load that a person has. Discussed in A11: Load, Power, and Margin.

Measuring student learning – using activities, exams, term papers, quizzes, essays, projects, case studies, exercises, homework, etc. to evaluate student learning. See W3: Develop Assessments & Rubrics’ and C6: Lectures, Activities, Assessments & Assignments.

Metacognition – in its most basic definition, metacognition is thinking about thinking. Many researchers emphasize the importance of teaching students about metacognition. Details are discussed A4: Metacognition.

Model – theHOW of learning– the type of design refers to format of the course. This could be a lecture-based course, emporium, etc. Temporal refers to the WHEN of learning, and Spatial refers to WHERE. (Discussed in B3: Design Principles.)

Motivation – how much a student cares about a subject, college, the instructor, etc. This influences how much effort they put into actively learning. Using the affective taxonomy can help an instructor support student motivation (Rose et al., 2006, p. 139). Discussed in A10: Motivation.


Online module –online courses may have modules instead of units, sessions, or classes.

Open Education Resources (OER) – textbooks(some including some questions banks), articles, and other readings that are available through creative commons licenses, are free digitally to students, and, often, allow the instructor to make changes such as reorganizing and rewording the text.

Pedagogy – the HOW the course is presented. In this workbook, we use the term Temporal to refer to the WHEN of learning, Spatial to refer to WHERE, and Pedagogy and Model to refer to HOW – the type of design. Discussed in B3: Design Principles.

Power – consists of external and internal resources available to the individual. Discussed in A11: Load, Power, and Margin.

Program/Course of study – series of courses that leads to a qualification such as certification or bachelors. Examples: “Primary Industry Skills (Level 2) – Agriculture” or “Adolescent-to-Young Adult Education”.

Psychomotor skills – manual or physical skills. This includes skills such as using a stethoscope and using a chain saw. Details are discussed in A6: Taxonomies / Domains.


SAMR – a model for degrees of technology integration. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Interesting for instructors interested in how they themselves use technology or how their students use it.

Schema – a mental structure of information associations.Schemas and threshold concepts are related topics and discussed in A2: Schemas & Threshold Concepts.

Session– a single meeting of a course. Also called a class. For online courses, a session is often the equivalent of one module.

Significant learning– for many, the purpose of higher education is to enrich the lives of students and enable them to be informed and thoughtful in all areas of their lives.Fink defines this as significant learning. Fink proposes several areas that instructors should include in their courses to bring about significant learning, discussed in A3: Active and Transformative Learning.

Skills – skills are usually associated with physical ability, the ability to complete an action or perform a task. Ex.: how to use a stethoscope. Discussed further in A6: Taxonomies / Domains.

Skills, knowledge, and attitudes (SKAs) – the 3 taxonomies most discussed in higher education learning. Some people add habits and use the term KASH or add values and use the term VASK.

Spatial pattern – refers to the location of the student(s). Students may be physically located in the same room as the instructor or in different rooms, or even in different countries. Spatial is the WHERE. Temporal refers to the WHEN of learning, and Pedagogy and Model refer to HOW. The course structure is a combination of its spatial and temporal patterns and the learning model. Discussed in B3: Design Principles.

Structure – where, when, and how the course is presented. In this workbook, we use the term Temporal to refer to the WHEN of learning, Spatial to refer to WHERE, and Pedagogy and Model to refer to HOW – the type of design. Discussed in B3: Design Principles.

Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome taxonomy (SOLO) – according to Biggs (Biggs, n.d.), SOLO provides levels of complexity to learning outcomes.

Student evaluation of teaching – evaluations such as end-of-course surveys, Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGRID), 1-minute papers, or Student Assessment of their Learning Gains  (SALG) evaluations, etc. These tools are used to measure the instructor and/or the course. This is discussed in W5 Evaluate course.

Syllabus – because the syllabus is a contract with your students, it is an important part of your course. Detailed in C3: Syllabus.

Taxonomy – classification or grouping into ordered categories. The most commonly referred to taxonomies in education are Bloom’s cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains and the SOLO taxonomy. Discussed in A6, C2, and C10.

Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) – a department within many institutions which provides support in pedagogy and its application. This department may also provide guidance on which technologies might meet specific needs. Some TLCs include educational technologists and/or instructional designers who can help design both courses and technology use in courses. If the TLC cannot provide assistance with technology or ID, they can probably connect you with the correct area and work jointly with them to support you.

Teaching practices – almost every teacher goes through specific teaching events such as building a syllabus and identifying  learning activities. These are grouped in Unit C.

Technology use – technology can range from overhead projection to student smart-phone use for learning. A brief discussion on how you can use technology is included in C5: Technology Use.

Temporal – the WHEN of learning. The structure of a course lies in where, when, and how the course is presented. In this workbook, we use the term Spatial to refer to WHERE, and Pedagogy and Model to refer to HOW – the type of design. Discussed in B3: Design Principles.

Term – a complete series of course offerings/sessions, such as a quarter or semester.

Threshold concept (TC) – the introduction of knowledge that requires a transformational shift in schema – a major change in knowledge, approach, or belief.

Transformative Learning – Simsek (2012) defines transformational learning as learning that changes how students think. Not all active learning is transformation, but all transformational learning is active (See A3: Active and Transformative Learning).


Unit – a section of a course focusing on one aspect, consisting of one or more classes. Examples: “Basic hive maintenance” or “Classroom management”. In this manual, we use these terms:


Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) – the area or level of a specific SKA that the student is capable of with support (Vygotsky, 1978). See A9: Student Competency.


AACU American Association of Colleges and Universities
ADDIE Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate (ID model)
ADHD Attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder
AIP American Institute of Physics
ARCS Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction (motivation model)
ASAP Accelerated Study in Associate Programs
CAST Center for Applied Special Technology (organization uses just the acronym now)
CATs Classroom Assessment Techniques
CBL Case-based learning Model
CIRP Cooperative Institutional Research Program
CLT cognitive load theory
DoE Department of Education – usually refers to the USA DoE
ETF Early Term Feedback
F2F Face
FP Feedback about the process
FR Feedback about self-regulation
FS Feedback about self, as a person
FT Feedback about task performance
HE Higher Education, including tertiary education.
HIPs High-Impact Practices
HOAS Higher-Order Attitude Skills
HOPS Higher-Order Psychomotor Skills
HOTS Higher-Order Thinking Skills
IBL Inquiry- Based Learning Model
ID Instructional design
IDI Instructional Design for Instructors
IMPACT Instruction Matters – Purdue Academic Course Transformation
ISD Instructional Systems Design
ITCK Integrated Threshold Concept Knowledge
LMS Learning Management System
LOAS Lower- Order Attitude Skills
LOPS Lower- Order Psychomotor Skills
LOTS Lower- Order Thinking Skills
LTM Long- Term Memory (Part of the memory system)
Lvl Level
MDRC Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation
NCES National Center of Educational Statistics
NSSE National Survey of Student Engagement SKA – Skills, Knowledge, and Attitudes
OER Open Education Resources
OLC Online Learning Consortium
PBL Problem- Based Model or Project- Based Learning Model
QM Quality Matters
RATS Readiness Assessment Test
SALG Student Assessment of their Learning Gains
SAMR Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition
SCALE- UPStudent- Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside- down Pedagogies
SGRID Small Group Instructional Diagnosis
SMART Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely
SOLO Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome
SPS Society of Physics Students.
SR Sensory Register (Part of the memory system)
STEM science, technology, engineering, and math
STEMM Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine
TA Teaching assistant
Tax. Taxonomy
TBL Team- based learning Model
TC Threshold Concept
TLC Teaching and Learning Center
UbD Understanding by Design
UDL Universal design for Learning
URM underrepresented minority
VALUE Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education
WM Working Memory (Also called short-term storage or STS)
ZCD Zone of Current Development
ZPD Zone of Proximal Development

References on this page

Biggs, J. (n.d.). SOLO Taxonomy. John Biggs. Retrieved July 4, 2020, from

Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching. (1993, FALL). Active Learning: Getting Students to Work and Think in the Classroom. Speaking of Teaching, 5(1).

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin.

DeWitt, P. (2016, August 21). What Are the Best Strategies for Surface to Deep Learning? Education Week.

Kidd, J. R. (1973). How Adults Learn. Revised Edition. Association Press, 291 Broadway, New York, New York 10007.

Meyer, K. A. (2013). An Analysis of the Research on Faculty Development for Online Teaching and Identification of New Directions. Online Learning, 17(4).

Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal Design for Learning in Postsecondary Education: Reflections on Principles and their Application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 135–151.

Simsek, A. (2012). Transformational Learning. In N. M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 3341–3344). Springer US.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds.; Revised ed. edition). Harvard Univ Pr.