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Pedagogies Glossary

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Active learning

Where students are actively involve in the learning process, rather than passively, thoughtlessly, present. Active learning may involve greater physical involvement, with students on their feet. It may involve students editing or creating digital artefacts. In either case, students actively co-construct knowledge, events, and objects, and have a higher degree of emotional, cognitive and behavioural engagement.

Authentic assessment

The aim is to assess students in ways that are appropriate to the intended or emergent learning outcomes we are addressing. So for example, we assess students ability to apply clinical knowledge through simulations or real-world clinical situations, not through exams.



Blended learning

Combining online, mobile and in-class activities into a design that makes the most of all of the different technologies and methods.

Breaking down barriers between teacher and students

Traditional lecture room practice, and academic cultures, separated students and teachers physically in space. This may reduce student engagement, confidence and self-efficacy. It is a barrier to responsive teaching. Modern teaching spaces are designed to be reconfigurable, and to allow teachers and students to be physically organised in many different ways. Teachers and students may address the whole class in the traditional way, but then move into a more collaborative mode, with the teacher acting more like a consultant.




Working with students to collaboratively design teaching, learning and assessment. This can happen at all levels and all scales. It might concern any aspect, including the design of curriculum, learning activities, and assessment methods. However there are several challenges:

  • students may not be keen to contribute to designing unless they will themselves benefit from their inputs;
  • students who have not already undertaken a module or course may find it difficult to contribute effectively to designing it;
  • students may feel that they do not have sufficient experience or authority to contribute to designing.

We can overcome these challenges by scaffolding the design process, so that students make informed choices. We can also break down the challenges into more meaningful parts. Get continual feedback, rather than waiting to the end. Get students to share positive experiences from other learning, or from other contexts (e.g. sport, arts, societies).

Constructive alignment

An important design principle used to ensure teaching quality. Formulated by John Biggs in Teaching for Quality Learning at Higher Education. The principle states that:

  • Learning activities (LAs), assessment tasks (ATs) and intended learning outcomes (ILOs) should be "constructively aligned" with each other;
  • Learning activities enable the achievement of the intended learning outcomes, and assessment tasks genuinely and reliably demonstrate the extent to which a student has achieved the ILOs.

Authentic assessment is a related design principle - meaning that we assess students in ways that are authentic to intended outcomes (for example, practical work rather than essays, if that is more appropriate).

Intended learning outcomes can, to some extent, be emergent. And assessment tasks might be negotiated (often with students) in response. And learning activities may be designed with/by students themselves. The design principle is still useful, even when we use it with such an agile approach.

Craft-oriented learning

Teaching that is focussed on acquiring and applying practical and cognitive capabilities for creating artefacts (which can include conventional outputs such as texts). The creative methods used are typically aligned to a discipline - for example, the craft of writing history essays. Instead of acquiring and repeating facts, students engage in what the philosopher Donald Schön called a "reflective practicum", in which they work together, guided by an expert craftsperson, to practice and improve their craft with real and valuable outputs, which may have real-world impacts. Craft-based learning is associated with the Student as Producer approach, authentic learning, and authentic assessment.



Developing student study skills

We often wrongly assume that students come to Warwick with effective study skills. This might not necessarily be the case. However, there may not be sufficient time in the curriculum to ensure that all students are using the best possible methods - for example, that they are using digital technologies effectively. This problem can be alleviated using online learning, peer-learning, and by modelling practices in class (with online support available in complement).

Distance learning

The majority of study time is spent away from the university, for example at home or in the workplace. Web based tools and mobile apps are used for communications, interaction and collaborative working.

Distance learning widens access to higher education. It allows people to learn and apply their learning in their own contexts beyond the university.

Diversifying assessment

There are many good reasons to diversify the forms of assessment we use (away from the essay and the exam). Authentic assessment seeks to assess student work in ways that are appropriate to the intended learning outcomes (e.g. if we are aiming to develop student skills in live dialogue, then we have to assess them in that context, not an exam). This applies the principle of constructive alignment. We might also wish to use assessment that tests transferable skills (e.g. film making).

Diversifying assessment is, however, still a challenge. We need to learn or create new ways of assessing students that retain fairness, academic integrity and reliability.



Efficient learning management

Making sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time, physically and mentally, that they know what they are doing, and that processes run effectively without too much intervention.

Encouraging student independence

Independent students develop faster, allowing the whole class to move ahead with certainty and ease. They know when to ask for help, where to ask for it, how to ask for it, and what to do with it. They can support each other. We can design our teaching to support the development of independent learning capabilities. But we must actively reflect-in-action to make sure that we don't teach in a mode that undermines independence, by over-specifying tasks and intervening too readily - let students fail and help them to learn from failure.

Engaged students

In her literature review of research into student engagement, Vicki Trowler (summarising Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004) describes three ways in which students may or may not be effectively engaged with learning:

  1. behavioural engagement - students who are behaviourally engaged would typically comply with behavioural norms, such as attendance and involvement, and would demonstrate the absence of disruptive or negative behaviour;
  2. emotional engagement (for robust intrinsic motivation) - students who engage emotionally would experience affective reactions such as interest, enjoyment, or a sense of belonging;
  3. cognitive engagement - cognitively engaged students would be invested in their learning, would seek to go beyond the requirements, and would relish challenge.
Extended Classroom

This is Warwick's name for the tools, techniques and services that we can use to sustain and amplify the capabilities of teachers and students. For example, using videoconferencing tools, we can extend the physical classroom out to include people anywhere in the world.

The Extended Classroom includes core university provided tools and services (such as Moodle), and some non-supported tools that have been found to be affective by the Extended Classroom Community.

The Extended Classroom Community is a network of over 100 people across the university, including teachers, learning technologists, student experience specialists, administrators, librarians and students. We meet at least once a term for the Extended Classroom Forum. The community also hosts a crowdsourcing process through which any member of the university may ask for help in finding a solution to a teaching challenge. These solutions are then documented in the Extended Classroom Knowledge Base.

Extended Classroom Design Values

Technology-enhanced learning solutions should be, by default: inclusive, accessible, viable, sustainable, green, and developmental.

  1. Inclusive by default - avoid solutions that may exclude individual students based on gender, race, culture, religious belief, class or membership of services that are not provided and assured by the University. For example, some students choose not to use Facebook as a consequence of its ethical standards. Do not implement solutions that disadvantage students who do not use these systems.1
  2. Accessible by default - ensure that any solutions you use can be accessed by students with special needs, or that alternatives are provided that do not disadvantage such students.
  3. Viable by default - what impact will your solution have on users and people supporting it? Does it ask too much of them in terms of training, complexity, collaboration, memory, time?
  4. Sustainable by default - avoid adopting solutions where ongoing costs and supporting resources may be unsustainable.
  5. Green by default - think about the cost of your solution to the environment.
  6. Developmental by default - how does your solution contribute positively to the development of transferable individual and collective capabilities, including digital capabilities and innovation capabilities?

1 When requiring students to share personal information of any kind in a space that we have set up, including comments in a discussion, we have to be aware that we are taking on responsibilities for looking after that data in compliance with GDPR. University systems, such as Moodle, are set up and managed with this in mind.



Flexible learning

The student has significant control over where they learn, when they learn, how they learn and, in the more flexible cases, what they learn and how they construct their personal curriculum.

Flexible learning widens access to higher education. It enables students to construct study patterns that are most effective and efficient for their own needs.

Flipped classroom

A learning design approach, in which:

  1. face-to-face time that would normally be used for lectures and the transmission of content;
  2. is used instead for student-led activities and project work;
  3. often with lectures replaced with readings and online videos to be studied outside of class time.

The flipped classroom optimises the use of in-class collaborative time.



Holistic learning

Teachers and students, working together, should ensure that the learning experience fits together, works cohesively, develops the whole student as a person. Co-designing, reflective practice and responsive teaching are essential to this.



Inclusive teaching

Design and deliver teaching so that all students can participate equally well, regardless of disabilities.

Ensure that teaching does not discriminate against students, regardless of their individual backgrounds and identities.

Actively design to make the most of diversity.

Induction to HE learning

University learning is, for most students, very different to what they have experienced at school. If we don't recognise the differences, and help students to understand how new challenges differ, the experience of starting university may be frustrating and potentially disastrous.


From the IATL definition:

Interdisciplinarity is the combining of methods and insights of two or more academic disciplines into the pursuit of a common task, such as a research project. It is typically characterised by the crossing of ‘traditional boundaries’ between academic disciplines or schools of thought to address new and emerging issues.

Find out more from the WIHEA web pages on interdisciplinarity at Warwick.

International teaching

Internationalising teaching means including people and perspectives from around the world. Communications technology helps this to be more realistic and immediate. Collaboration across the world is now entirely feasible.



Knowledge management

Systematically recording, organising knowledge. Creating schemas. Designing for effective search. Managing complex and large knowledge bases.



Large-group teaching

Large-group teaching is defined as: teaching sessions in which the teacher spends significant amount of time addressing the whole class, the size of which means that the teacher cannot easily hold discussions with each and every individual.

In reality there is a continuum between large and small. Large groups can be divided into small groups, and peer learning used to provide an interface between teacher and individual student.

See also small-group teaching.

Learning gain

A measure of individual student progress in learning. We should be able to see how variations in teaching and learning design impact on learning gain, however, we should be aware of the complexity of extraneous variables.

Learning through explaining

By actively articulating their understanding, students can refine their capabilities, getting feedback and making adjustments. Peer learning techniques get students to do this together, often pairing together students to critically assess their understanding and to improve together. This can be especially important when dealing with threshold concepts.



We might make links to the work place, its knowledge and skills, from specific intended learning outcomes, activities, assessments and methods.

The links might be discipline specific, or relate to generic skills.

This increases the value of learning for our students.

Managing complexity

There is an inevitable increase in complexity when we make teaching more responsive and flexible. This need not be a problem. We can use technology to help us to keep track of things, and to delegate responsibility to peer-learning groups.



Open-space learning

Modes of organising students and activities that use reconfigurable, more mobile, "open-spaces" - including theatre studios, outdoor locations, teaching rooms in which furniture may be packed away. Typically, students and teachers work on their feet, rather than sitting. This acts to break down barriers and to benefit from the cognitive effects of exercise and movement.



Peer learning

Where are get students to work together and learn from each other. This might involve team work on a challenge. Or we could get one student to teach the other student (taking turns). The act of teaching is a good way to develop and practice understanding. The physicist Eric Mazur documented many techniques in his book Peer Instruction (1996).

Peer learning is a useful way of countering the effects of boredom and physical disengagement. Finkielsztein (2019) reports that students (especially experienced students) cope with boredom by gradually becoming more detached from the class - typically they start by sitting at the edges of the room. Peer learning brings them back into the group, and exerts light social pressure to become re-engaged.

Personalised learning

Learning activities, assessment tasks, intended learning outcomes are adapted to meet the needs of the individual student. This might result from learning analytics data, and/or from reflective practice by the student and the teacher.

Public engagement

Events, activities, resources, networks designed to engage the wider public in university life. Technology can help greatly with this, however, we need to carefully consider the capabilities of the audience (including skills, understanding, hardware, software, support).



Real-world challenges

One of the key ambitions of the authentic learning approach is to get students engaging with real-world challenges, rather than simulations and fictional cases.

Reflective practice

Reflection is something that most people do naturally, but reflective practice is a more systematic approach to ensuring that we reflect effectively and with positive consequences. In Educating the Reflective Practitioner, the philosopher Donald Schön described two connected modes of reflective practice (based on studies of successful professionals and how their education):

  • Reflection-in-action: where we reflect on work that we are actively engaged in doing things, examining our assumptions and processes, shifting perspective and making plans.
  • Reflection-on-action: where we reflect later, when not actively engaged, reflecting on the bigger picture, on our goals and achievements, on values, and on how we join-up actions to make progress.

Schön's research shows how successful practitioners build reflection-in-action into their habitual practices and make time for systematic reflection-on-action, often using journals and mentors to ensure it is done effectively.

Resource-rich teaching

An approach that benefits from the greater abundance of accessible resources enabled by the internet. Using curation tools such as Tallis Aspire, we can collect together (and get students to contribute to) lists of resources for students to explore. We can use tools like H5P to add commentaries (for example, onto videos).

Resource-rich teaching widens the range of experiences and materials from which students learn.

Responsive teaching

Where we actively respond to the needs and interests of the students as they develop during the learning process. This may also include engaging students in co-designing before, during and after they participate in modules and programmes, and using inputs from alumni. Responsive teaching requires a process of actively gathering feedback and data, reflecting and redesigning. By leaving space in the curriculum for flexible learning, and by changing the relationship we have with students (as partners), we can enable more responsive teaching.

Reusable learning content

There are two types of reuse:

  • in the same course when it is repeated over time;
  • in different courses at the same time or over time.

Digital content is more easily reused, so long as we make it in a format that can be either copied into new locations or stored in one location and used in many. It needs to be stored with reuse in mind, with clear and meaningful titles, descriptions and metadata to aid discovery. We may also need to consider copyright, intellectual property rights, and access permissions.



Scaffolded collaboration

We expect students to work collaboratively on challenging projects. However, doing so requires high level capabilities and many skills that are often difficult to develop. We should provide scaffolding for students, guidelines and organisational structures, to help students to get started on developing these independent capabilities. As students progress, give them more freedom to work independently without direct guidance.

Scaffolding learning

A technique for developing independent student capabilities by progressively removing support. Initially we provide the students with a framework in which they work (for example, a template for a document). We provide them with individual support (face to face or online). As the students become more capable, we get them to create their own frameworks, and we reduce the level of support. We may also progressively make the challenges more difficult and more complicated - keeping within what Vygotsky called the "zone of proximal development".

This helps students to overcome challenges that are initially too difficult.

Simplified learning design

By breaking down complicated modules and activities into smaller, clearly described, understandable steps, we can scaffold students' work towards achieving success. Ensure that "extraneous" details are removed, and that necessary elements are developed more effectively. Ensure that learning activities do help students to achieve intended learning outcomes, and that assessment tasks precisely and appropriately allow students to demonstrate their learning (the principle of constructive alignment).

Small-group teaching

A small group is one in which the teacher is able to interact directly with individual students on a personal basis.

This classification is not dependent on any specific number of students. Rather, it is about the style of teaching adopted and the affordances of the teaching spaces and technologies that are available.

Technology-enhanced techniques can be used to create small or smaller group conditions with large, or even very large, numbers of students. For example, a personal response system may be used to identify specific students who have problems or needs, and respond to them individually.

See also large-group teaching.

Student as producer

Whereas in conventional education students produce work that has little consequence beyond assessment, the student as producer approach sees students as contributors to and partners in the generation of new knowledge, and the development of solutions to real problems. This is linked to the concept of authentic assessment.

Student confidence and self-efficacy

Confident students are able to take control of their learning independently, are able to plan actions, take them decisively, and learn from the results. They have, what psychologists call, self-efficacy. We can teach to actively develop self-efficacy by giving students many small opportunities to make their own judgements and see the consequences, followed by good reflective practice, and learning-loops that allow them to build on their experiences. Fragmented, disjointed, too-fast learning experiences undermine self-efficacy. Built towards increasing student independence and self-efficacy in tackling increasingly big challenges.

Student well-being

Caring for the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of students. Providing students with the ability to look after themselves.

When using online and mobile tools we need to be especially aware of the potential negative impacts on well-being.

Supporting and encouraging team work

Team work may not be a natural mode of working for students who have come through the British schools system. We may need to do extra work to support and encourage team work. This can become quite challenging and disruptive. A scaffolded collaboration approach is recommended.



Teaching at scale

Teaching 100, or even 400 students is qualitatively different to teaching small groups. Often class sizes are scaled up without additional teaching resources. We therefore have to use approaches like peer learning and scaffolded collaboration. Technologies such as personal response systems (e.g. Turning Point) can be used in large lectures to allow students to test out understanding, receive instant feedback, and work with each other to improve. Some universities (such as Monash) are dealing with increasing numbers by using a "flipped classroom" approach, where large lectures are replaced with online materials, with students using lecture time for peer learning and scaffolded collaboration on projects.

Teaching quality

High quality is achieved when all of the necessary ingredients are arranged, configured and sustained appropriately, including: processes, practices, systems, learning designs, resources, feedback and reflection.

Threshold concept

Threshold concepts are: essential for the student's progress in a subject and inherently difficult to master. For example in physics, the concept of gravity as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime.

This idea, and methods we can use to help students master threshold concepts, are discussed in the book Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning (Meyer and Land [eds.], 2010).

Technology-enhanced solutions allow students to approach a threshold concept from multiple angles, to rapidly test their understanding and receive feedback, peer-learning, real world applications.

Teaching with threshold concepts in mind helps students to progress more quickly and solidly.

Transferable skills

Some skills are specific to a particular discipline, or task within a discipline (e.g. using an electron microscope). Other skills are transferable between contexts (e.g. organising a team of people to work on a task). The challenge for university educators is to ensure that students know about and care for the development of transferable skills, but without taking the focus away from discipline specific learning. Students with well developed transferable skills, who can articulate and demonstrate their capabilities, are more employable and capable as graduates.



Valuing diverse students

Students are increasingly diverse in their backgrounds, interests, and capabilities. Instead of seeing this as a problem, use it to your advantage to include diverse perspectives in the learning experience.

Valuing student contributions

Create channels for continual feedback. Allow students to contribute ideas. Value their contributions.

Valuing student creativity

Build opportunities into teaching and assessment for students to respond in unexpected ways. This might include allowing for and valuing emergent learning outcomes, rather than being restricted to pre-specified intended learning outcomes. We should still reflect up and describe the outcomes, and the skills demonstrated through creative responses.



Widening participation

Traditionally this refers to work done to attract students from socio-economic and cultural backgrounds that are under-represented in higher education.

We should also consider how we support such students through university and beyond, as they may not have the same supporting resources (including knowledge and money) to help them through.