Academic Vocabulary

Academic Vocabulary


Academia: A collective term for the scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole.

Academic degree: A degree is any of a wide range of status levels conferred by institutions of higher education, such as universities, normally as the result of successfully completing a program of study.

Academic institution: An educational institution dedicated to higher education and research, which grants academic degrees.

Active learning: A process whereby learners are actively engaged in the learning process, rather than “passively” absorbing lectures. Active learning involves reading, writing, discussion, and engagement in solving problems, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Active learning often involves cooperative learning.

Adult education: The practice of teaching and educating adults. This is often done in the workplace, or through ‘extension’ or ‘continuing education’ courses at secondary schools, or at a College or University. The practice is also often referred to as ‘Training and Development’.

Aims and objectives: An aim expresses the purpose of the educational unit or course whereas an objective is a statement of a goal which successful participants are expected demonstrably to achieve before the course or unit completes.

Allowed to keep terms (ATKT): Process in the Indian education system to allow students of pre-graduation and graduation to study in the next grade if they have failed in 1 to 4 subjects. The students must pass the papers they failed before entering into the next grade.

Applied academics: An approach to learning and teaching that focuses on how academic subjects (communications, mathematics, science, and basic literacy) can apply to the real world. Further, applied academics can be viewed as theoretical knowledge supporting practical applications.

Assessment: The process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs.

Asynchronous learning: A teaching method using the asynchronous delivery of training materials or content using computer network technology. It is an approach to providing technology-based training that incorporates learner-centric models of instruction.


Belief: A conviction to the truth of a proposition. Beliefs can be acquired through perception, contemplation or communication.

Biliteracy: The state of being literate in two or more languages. Blended learning: Learning in a combination of modes. Often used more specifically to refer to courses which use a combination of traditional face-to-face teaching and distance learning techniques on-line.

Boarding school: A school where some or all students not only study but also live, amongst their peers but away from their home and family.

Bonafide: A bonafide certificate is a certificate issued by an organisation to certify that a particular person belongs to that organisation. Usually, educational institutions issue this certificate to its students.

Brainstorming: An organized approach for producing ideas by letting the mind think without interruption.

Bridge program: This is a higher education program specifically designed to assist a student with an attained initial educational level (or an initial level of professional licensure) to attend college courses and achieve a terminal degree (or a higher level of professional licensure) in the same field of study and in less time than an entry-level student would require.

Bully: An individual, thought to be emotionally dysfunctional, who torments others through verbal harassment, physical assault, etc.


Character: (Character certificate) A document that states out your moral conduct or behaviour (good or bad) during the time you were in an educational institution.

Classroom management: A term used by many teachers to describe the process of ensuring lessons run smoothly without disruptive behaviour by students.

Coaching: A coach is a person who teaches and directs another person via encouragement and advice.

Coeducation: The integrated education of men and women at the same school facilities; co-ed is a shortened adjectival form of co-educational.

Collaborative learning: An umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating a product.

Computer Based Learning (sometimes abbreviated CBL): Refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes.

Critical pedagogy: A teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate.

Curriculum: (plural curricula) The set of courses and their contents offered by an institution such as a school or university.


Deemed university: ‘Deemed-to-be-University’, Status of autonomy granted to high performing institutes and departments of various universities in India by Government of India.

Distance (or distance learning): A field of education that focuses on the pedagogy/andragogy, technology, and instructional systems design that is effectively incorporated in delivering education to students who are not physically “on site” to receive their education. Instead, teachers and students may communicate asynchronously (at times of their own choosing) by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time (synchronously). Distance education courses that require a physical on-site presence for any reason including the taking of examinations is considered to be a hybrid or blended course or program.


Early childhood education: Covers the education of a child from the period from birth to eight years of age.

Education: A social science that encompasses teaching and learning specific knowledge, beliefs, and skills. Licensed and practicing teachers in the field use a variety of methods and materials in order to impart a curriculum.

Education policy: is the collection of rules, both stated and implicit, or the regularities in practice that govern the behaviour of persons in schools. Education policy analysis is the scholarly study of education policy.

Education reform: A plan, program, or movement which attempts to bring about a systematic change in educational theory or practice across a community or society.

Educational counselling: Conducted by counsellors in schools and universities. It is intended to help children suffering from education-related traumas such as beatings and other forms of corporal punishment used in many countries.

Educational games: Games, including video games of this genre, designed to teach people, typically children, about a certain subject or help them learn a skill as they play.

Educational organization: Organization within the scope of education. It is a common misconception that this means it is organizing educational system; rather, it deals with the theory of organization as it applies to education of the human mind.

Educational research: Research conducted to investigate behavioural patterns in pupils, students, teachers and other participants in schools and other educational institutions. Such research is often conducted by examining work products such as documents and standardized test results.

E-learning: An approach to facilitate and enhance learning through, and based on, both computer and communications technology. Such devices can include personal computers, CD-ROMs, Digital Television, P.D.A.s and Mobile Phones. Communications technology enables the use of the Internet, email, discussion forums, collaborative software and team learning systems.

Electronic portfolio: In the context of education and learning, an electronic portfolio, normally known as an ePortfolio or a digital portfolio, is a portfolio based on electronic media and services. It consists of a personal digital record containing information such as a collection of artefacts or evidence demonstrating what one knows and can do.

Exchange student: A student (usually from high school or university) who temporarily goes abroad and lives with a host family in a foreign country, and attends school there. That host family often also sends a child of theirs abroad, usually to the same country as the student they are hosting. In this way, the two students are said to have been “exchanged,” essentially temporarily trading countries with each other, although the period of exchange may not necessarily be simultaneous.

Extra credit: It is an academic concept, particularly used in schools. Students are offered the opportunity to undertake optional work, additional to their compulsory school work, in order to gain additional credit that would boost their grades.

Extracurricular activities: Activities performed by students that fall outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school or university education. Extracurricular activities exist at all levels of education, from high school and college to university education. Such activities are generally voluntary as opposed to mandatory, non-paying, tend to be social or philanthropic as opposed to scholastic, and involve others of the same age.


Forbidden knowledge: Used to describe forbidden books or other information to which access is restricted or deprecated for political or religious reasons.

Functional illiteracy: Refers to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills efficiently in everyday life situations. Unlike an illiterate, a functionally illiterate adult could be able to read and write text in his native language (with a variable degree of grammatical correctness, speed, and style), but is unable like the first, even in his own cultural and linguistic environment, to perform such fundamental tasks as filling out an application for employment, following written instructions, reading a newspaper, reading traffic signs, consulting a dictionary, or understanding a bus schedule.

Future Problem Solving Program: (FPSP) An international academic competition. Over 250,000 students internationally participate in the Future Problem Solving program every year. Participating countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Gifted: (intellectual giftedness) An intellectual ability significantly higher than average. Gifted children develop asynchronously; their minds are often ahead of their physical growth, and specific cognitive and emotional functions often are at different stages of development within a single person.

Gifted education: is a broad term for special practices, procedures and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented.


Higher education: Education provided by universities and other institutions that award academic degrees, such as community colleges, and liberal arts colleges. Higher education includes both the teaching and the research activities of universities, and within the realm of teaching, it includes both the undergraduate level (sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as quaternary education or graduate school). Higher education differs from other forms of post-secondary education such as vocational education. However, most professional education is included within higher education, and many postgraduate qualifications are strongly vocationally or professionally oriented, for example in disciplines such as law and medicine.

Homeschooling: (also home education or home school) An educational alternative in which children are educated at home and in the community, in contrast to a compulsory education which takes place in an institution such as a publicly run or privately run school.


Individualized instruction: A method of instruction in which content, instructional materials, instructional media, and pace of learning are based upon the abilities and interests of each individual learner.

Instructional design: (also known as instructional systems design) The analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction.

Innovation: Innovation is allowing imagination to flourish and not be afraid to try new things. Sometimes these new things fail but it’s awesome when they are a success.

Integrative learning: A learning theory describing a movement toward integrated lessons; helping students make connections across curricula. This higher education concept is distinct from the elementary and high school “integrated curriculum” movement.

International education: The practice and/or study of international cooperation and aid among countries, including the exchange of students, teachers, and researchers between countries.

Invigilator: Someone who ensures the smooth running of exams. An invigilator is responsible for ensuring that the Awarding Body’s regulations are complied with; that exams start and finish at the correct time; that exam papers are secure whilst in their care; that attendance and seating plans are recorded; and that no cheating takes place.


Kindergarten: (German for garden for children) A name used in many parts of the world for the first stages of a child’s classroom education. In some parts kindergarten is part of the formal school system; in others it may refer to pre-school or day-care.

Knowledge: Information of which someone is aware. Knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.

Knowledge Management: (or KM) A term applied to techniques used for the systematic collection, transfer, security and management of information within organisations, along with systems designed to help make best use of that knowledge.

Knowledge transfer: In the fields of Organizational development and organizational learning, is the practical problem of getting a packet of knowledge from one part of the organization to another (or all other) parts of the organization. It is considered to be more than just a communications problem.


Learning: The process of acquiring knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values, through study, experience, or teaching, that causes a change of behaviour that is persistent, measurable, and specified or allows an individual to formulate a new mental construct or revise a prior mental construct.

Lecture: An oral presentation intended to teach people about a particular subject, for example by a university or college teacher. Lectures are used to convey critical information, history, background, theories and equations.

Liberal arts: Studies that are intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills, rather than more specialized occupational or professional skills.

Literacy: The ability to read, write, speak, and listen. In modern context, the word means reading and writing in a level adequate for written communication and generally a level that enables one to successfully function at certain levels of a society.


Mastery learning: An instructional method that presumes all children can learn if they are provided with the appropriate learning conditions. Specifically, mastery learning is a method whereby students are not advanced to a subsequent learning objective until they demonstrate proficiency with the current one.

Memory: The ability of the brain to store, retain and subsequently recall information. Although traditional studies of memory began in the realms of philosophy, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century put memory within the paradigms of cognitive psychology.

Mentoring: A developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee or protégé.

Methodology: Strictly speaking is the study and knowledge of methods; but the term is frequently used pretentiously to indicate a method or a set of methods. In other words, it is the study of techniques for problem-solving and seeking answers, as opposed to the techniques themselves.

Migration: (Migration Certificate) A document issued by the concerned University or Board in which one studies. It helps in getting admission to another institution or any education board and it is issued at the completion of the course along with other necessary documents.

Motivation: The driving force behind all actions of human beings and other animals. It is an internal state that activates behaviour and gives it direction. Emotion is closely related to motivation, and may be regarded as the subjectively experienced component of motivational states.


National postgraduate representative body: Exists in many countries representing postgraduate students/researchers undertaking their doctorate (PhD) or postdoctoral research. Some have a broader remit to represent all postgraduates, including those taking Master’s degrees. A few countries have no specific body but are represented by a national body representing all students, including undergraduates.

Normal school: An educational institution for training teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name. The term normal school is now archaic in all but a few countries. In New Zealand, for example, normal schools are affiliated with Teachers colleges. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, normal schools in the United States and Canada trained primary school teachers, while in Europe, normal schools educated primary, secondary and tertiary-level teachers.

Note taking: The practice of writing pieces of information, often in an informal or unstructured manner.

Nursery school: (or preschool) A school for the education of very young children (generally five years of age and younger). These schools range from schools which seek to teach young children to schools which only provide childcare with little educational benefits.


Objective: An educational objective is a statement of a goal which successful participants are expected demonstrably to achieve before the course or unit completes.

Observational learning: (or social learning) Learning that occurs as a function of observing, retaining and replicating behaviour observed in others.

Outdoor education: (also known as adventure education) Usually refers to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Programs often involve residential or journey-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges such as hiking, climbing, canoeing, ropes courses, and group games.

Overlearning: A pedagogical concept according to which newly acquired skills should be practiced well beyond the point of initial mastery, leading to automaticity.


Pedagogy: The art or science of teaching. The word comes from the ancient Greek paidagogos, the slave who took little boys to and from school as part of paideia. The word “paidia” refers to children, which is why some like to make the distinction between pedagogy (teaching children) and andragogy (teaching adults). The Latin word for pedagogy, education, Personal development: (also known as self-development or personal growth) Comprises the development of the self. The term may also refer to: traditional concepts of education or training; counselling and coaching for personal transformation; New Age movement and spiritual beliefs & concepts – including “inner pathways” to solve social and psychological issues; or professional development business trainers (some treat the whole person instead of business only).

Physical education: (PE, also called physical training – PT or gym) A course in the curriculum which utilizes the learning medium of large-muscle activities in a play or movement exploration setting. It is almost always mandatory for students in elementary schools, and often for students in middle schools and high schools.

Postgraduate education: (or Quaternary education) The fourth-stage educational level, and follows the completion of an undergraduate degree at a college or university.

Post-secondary education: Any form of education that is taken after first attending a secondary school, such as a high school. The purpose of a post-secondary education can be to receive vocational education and training or to prepare for professions or scientific/academic careers through higher education.

Problem solving: Forms part of thinking. It occurs if an organism or an artificial intelligence system does not know how to proceed from a given state to a desired goal state. It is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping.

Professional certification: (Trade certification or professional designation often called simply certification or qualification) A designation earned by a person to certify that he is qualified to perform a job. Certification indicates that the individual has a specific knowledge, skills, or abilities in the view of the certifying body.

Provisional: (Provisional Degree/Diploma/Certificate) are the documents which are issued to the students who have just graduated from the university or college. The provisional degree or Certificate is a temporary document that supports in identifying the student about his/her qualification.


Quiz: A form of game or puzzle in which the players (as individuals or in teams), attempt to answer questions correctly. A quiz usually is a form of student assessment, but often has fewer questions of lesser difficulty and requires less time for completion than a test.


Reading (process): The process of retrieving and comprehending some form of stored information or ideas. These ideas are usually some sort of representation of language, as symbols to be examined by sight, or by touch (for example Braille). Other types of reading may not be language-based, such as music notation or pictograms. By analogy, in computer science, reading is acquiring of data from some sort of computer storage.

Reading disability: A condition in which a sufferer displays difficulty reading resulting primarily from neurological factors.

Reasoning: Defined very differently depending on the context of the understanding of reason as a form of knowledge.

Recitation: A discussion carried by a Teaching assistant to supplement a lecture given by a senior faculty at an academic institution.

Research: Often described as an active, diligent, and

systematic process of inquiry aimed at discovering, interpreting and revising facts. This intellectual investigation produces a greater understanding of events, behaviours, or theories, and makes practical applications through laws and theories.

Re-registration: When a student on rolls applies for continuing his studies for the next semester/session, it is called re-registration.


School: A place designated for learning. The range of institutions covered by the term varies from country to country.

School bus: A bus used to transport children and adolescents to and from school. The first school bus was horse-drawn, introduced in 1827 by George Shillibeer for a Quaker school at Abney Park in Stoke Newington, London, and was designed to carry twenty-five children. Since then, school buses of many types have become widespread, and motorised, and are used in all parts of the world.

School counsellor: A practitioner who meets the needs of students in three basic educational domains: academic development, career development, and personal/social development. This is accomplished through the implementation of a comprehensive school counselling program that promotes and enhances student achievement through a guidance curriculum, individual planning strategies, responsive services and comprehensive school counselling program support/advocacy.

School discipline: A form of discipline found in schools. The term refers to students complying with a code of behaviour often known as the school rules. Among other things these rules may set out the expected standards of clothing, timekeeping, social behaviour and work ethic.

Self-esteem: (or self-worth) Includes a person’s subjective appraisal of himself or herself as intrinsically positive or negative to some degree.

Skill: An ability, usually learned, to perform actions.

STEM fields: The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are collectively considered core technological underpinnings of an advanced society.

Student-cantered learning: An approach to education focusing on the needs of the students, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators.

Student voice: the distinct perspectives and actions of young people throughout schools focused on education itself.

Student loans: Loans offered to students to assist in payment of the costs of professional education. These loans usually carry lower interests than other loans, and are usually issued by the government.

Supplementary: (Supplementary exam) is an additional exam (or other form of assessment) that may be approved for a student in the following circumstances:

1) A student who has come close to passing a subject and meets the relevant College guidelines for awarding a supplementary exam.

2) A student who has applied for special consideration due to unexpected circumstances impacting on their performance during the first exam.

This is a second chance to pass the subject and students must pass the supplementary exam to gain a pass overall.

Syllabus: (plural syllabi or syllabuses) A document with an outline and summary of topics to be covered in a course. It is often either set out by an exam board, or prepared by the professor who teaches the course, and is usually given to each student during the first class session.


Teacher: In education, one who teaches students or pupils, often a course of study, lesson plan, or a practical skill, including learning and thinking skills. There are many different ways to teach and help students learn. This is often referred to as the teacher’s pedagogy. When deciding what teaching method to use, a teacher will need to consider students’ background knowledge, environment, and their learning goals as well as standardized curriculum as determined by their school district.

Technology education: The study of the human ability to create and use tools to shape the natural environment to meet their needs.

Textbook: A manual of instruction or a standard book in any branch of study. They are classified by both the target audience and the subject. Textbooks are usually published by specialty printers to serve every request for an understanding of every subject that can be taught.

Training: Refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge and relates to specific useful skills.

Transcript: It is proof of education. It has a detailed record of all the subjects you have studied with your scores in the form of marks or grades given by the institution of study.

Transfer: (Transfer certificate) is a certificate issued to a student on his request by the in charge of the institution i.e. college or school when the student wants to leave that institution.

Truth: When someone sincerely agrees with an assertion, he or she is claiming that it is the truth.

Tuition: A fee charged for educational instruction especially at a formal institution of learning. Tuition is charged by educational institutions to assist with funding of staff and faculty salaries, course offerings, lab equipment, computer systems, libraries, and facility up keeping. Fees are also used to fund facilities that provide a comfortable learning experience for its students, such as student lounges.

University: An institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.

Understanding: A psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as, person, situation and message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.


Virtual learning environment: (VLE) A software system designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration. The system can often track the learners’ progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and learners. While often thought of as primarily tools for distance education, they are most often used to supplement the face-to-face classroom.

Vocational education: (or Vocational Education and Training (VET)) Prepares learners for careers or professions that are traditionally non-academic and directly related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation, hence the term, in which the learner participates. It is sometimes referred to as technical education, as the learner directly specialises in a particular narrow technique of using technology.


Writing: May refer to two activities: the inscribing of characters on a medium, with the intention of forming words and other constructs that represent language or record information, and the creation of material to be conveyed through written language. (There are some exceptions; for example, the use of a typewriter to record language is generally called typing, rather than writing.) Writing refers to both activities equally, and both activities may often occur simultaneously.

Workshop: A brief intensive course, a seminar or a series of meetings emphasizing interaction and exchange of information among a usually small number of participants.


Zero tolerance policy: A policy that states that prohibited behaviours and actions will not be tolerated—no exceptions. Zero tolerance policies have different prohibitions, which may include inter alia, contraband such as weapons, illegal drugs, or actions such as bullying, harassment, or violence.


  • Glossary of education terms


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