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Learning College Language Definitions

1. Abstract Random (a learning style)
This learner is a spontaneous, compassionate listener who considers advice before decision making, focuses on themes and ideas rather than details, prefers group work, and is easily discouraged if not appreciated.

2. Active Learning
Excluding traditional lecture, instructional activities where learners participate actively.

3. Andragogy and Pedagogy

  • Andragogy, the theory of adult learning or education developed by Malcolm Knowles, is the center of Learning College theory. Basic premises:
    • Adults are autonomous and need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction; this helps provide relevance toward life goals.
    • Experience provides an important basis for learning.
    • Adults are goal oriented.
    • Adults require relevance. They must realize the importance of their learning to their life and their overall goals.
    • Adults are practical. They want information that will be of practical use to them in their work or daily lives.
  • Pedagogy has been defined as the art and science of teaching children. In the pedagogical model, the teacher has full responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if the material has been learned. Pedagogy, or teacher-directed instruction as it is commonly known, places the student in a submissive role requiring obedience to the teacher's instructions. It is based on the assumption that learners need to know only what the teacher teaches them. The result is a teaching and learning situation that actively promotes dependency on the instructor (Knowles, 1984).

Source: http://www-distance.syr.edu/andraggy.html (Adapted and Updated from Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Individualizing Instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.)

4. Annual Plan
The purpose of the annual plan is to articulate and document the primary initiatives of the organization on an annual basis and to facilitate the ongoing prioritization of resources to achieve those initiatives. It includes descriptions, objectives, activities, and timelines for all initiatives. The annual plan is intended to serve as a tool by which resources (personnel, funds, equipment, facilities, time, etc.) are prioritized and allocated throughout the organization. Successive annual plans should be coordinated in such a way as to lead the accomplishment of the long-term (5-10 years) strategic plan.

5. Appreciative Inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational philosophy, as well as a practice. The Power of Appreciative Inquiry defines AI as "the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems, at their best" (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2003). One might translate this to say that Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system's capacity for collaboration and change. Source: Wikipedia

For the purposes of the Learning College initiative, AI could be considered the institutional focus on what is working for the student and what things are enabling, enhancing learning for the students. By concentrating on and inquiring about the systems, processes and methods that move the organization toward a Learning College, the college will move more rapidly in that direction.

By example, a department could have regular conversations about how the students are doing and what is enabling those students who are successful to be successful. If successful students spend time in the library, how can we further accommodate students in the library? Perhaps through expanding hours, more reference books, computers, lighting, allowing food, etc… It is the focus on what successful students are doing and how the college can create or recreate that process/environment for more students, thus facilitating even more success among the students.

6. Assessment
The process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs, often referred to as assessment plan, authentic assessment, or performance assessment.

7. Best Practices
Practices constituting excellence that represent the broad range of the most effective actions learners take and requisite conditions learners establish to facilitate learning. Best practices may include strategies, techniques, methodologies, environmental factors, assessment, etc. that ensure learning. These elements become “best practices” when learners are able to measure learning college effectiveness as a result of the employment of these practices.

8. Bloom’s Taxonomy
In 1956, a committee led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains of educational activities:

  • Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)
  • Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude)
  • Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)

The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Bloom divided the cognitive domain into six categories starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first one must be mastered before the next one can take place. (Source 1)

Verb examples that represent intellectual activity on each level are listed here.

  1. Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.
  2. Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,
  3. Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.
  4. Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.
  5. Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.
  6. Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate. (Source 2)

Source 1: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

9. Capstone Class
A class / project that completes a learner’s curriculum. Comprehensive and often interdisciplinary, capstone classes may be a research project, an on-the-job practicum, a seminar, etc. These classes include a final project or presentation to demonstrate competence in everything learned in the program.

10. Charrette
A collaborative planning process that harnesses the talents and energies of all interested parties to create and support a feasible plan that represents transformative college-wide change. The Learning College Charrettes will combine creative, intense work sessions with open workshops, displays, courageous conversations and open forums. Excerpts from National Charrette Institute, www.charretteinstitute.org

11. Closing the Loop
Promotes learning among students, faculty and staff by incorporating assessment in all areas of the educational process in order to evaluate services, to determine gaps in instruction/learning and to direct future courses of action.

12. Collaborative Learning
Active learning that is usually done in small groups or teams of learners. These project teams may be formed to complete an assignment or project. Project teams are an example of collaborative learning.

13. Concept Mapping
A tool that assists and enhances critical thinking and learning. A main idea is written in the center of a piece of unlined paper and related ideas are written around the main idea. Concept mapping is often done quickly, without judging or editing. The concept map may be done to summarize ideas or to study for a final examination. It may also be used to outline a paper.

14. Concrete Sequential (a learning style)
This learner is analytical, fact-driven, practical, organized, dependable, action oriented, direct, consistent, and excels at improving ideas.

15. Contextualized Learning
This kind of learning presents realistic, specific scenarios to learners. When used correctly, students can apply what they learn in the classroom to the world of work or the world in general.

16. Continuous Improvement
Often associated with W. Edwards Deming, continuous improvement (from the Japanese word kaizen) is an approach to improving productivity. Its goals are to eliminate waste, to standardize work processes and to empower workers to correct broken processes.

17. Core Learning Outcomes
Core learning outcomes are common outcomes all graduates of South Piedmont Community College possess and can demonstrate upon graduation. These outcomes are not mastered in a single class but are the culmination of learning from all the courses taken throughout the entire program of study.

18. Core Values
A very small set of guiding principles that define the enduring character and/or integrity of an organization.

19. Courageous Conversations
Conversations which involve having the willingness to discuss processes and ideas that really matter, without fear of reprisal. (See the works of David Whyte.)

20. Critical Measures
Critical measures are selected measures that best demonstrate success/failure of the mission. Assessment and documentation are foundational principles of the Learning College. They are the means by which learning, access, efficiency, service, etc., are evidenced and enhanced. Many aspects throughout the college are measured; however, those selected measures that best demonstrate success/failure of the mission are deemed critical. Critical measures span the entire institution at every level. Those selected measures that best demonstrate success/failure of that organizational unit’s mission are deemed critical measures. Academic divisions have critical measures that range from the classroom, program, division and college level. Non-academic divisions/departments also have many measures that demonstrate effectiveness.

21. Critical Thinking
The ability of a learner to continually build upon information learned and to apply that knowledge to a variety of decision-making/problem-solving scenarios that generally result in positive actions.

22. Embedded
Formal and informal evaluation that can be formative in nature, administered in a variety of ways throughout a course to demonstrate that learning is taking place and to answer questions or discover where learners are struggling and need help. Embedded evaluation could be pre/post tests, a minute paper, an informal learning survey, etc.

23. Engaged
Engaged learners are learners who independently immerse themselves in the subject. Characteristics of engaged learners include but are not limited to: motivation, active participation, experimentation, independence, involvement in discussions, follow-through on assignments and active application of the principles to be learned.

24. Enrollment Management
The systemic approach to recruiting and retaining students for optimal enrollments within the academic context of the college. Optimal enrollments are attained through Instructional Programs and Courses, Quality Teaching, Marketing and Recruitment Strategies, Excellent Customer Service, Minimal Financial Barriers, Well-trained Staff, Enrollment Planning, a Safe and Clean Environment, and Technology that Enhances Services

25. Environmental Scanning
A method of observing the internal and external learning environment to enable decision makers to understand the interconnections of all sectors and to translate understanding into the institution’s planning and decision-making processes.

26. Evidence
Answers the question “How do we know our students are learning?” It is a systematic, data-driven, comprehensive approach to assessing the quality of a program with direct, valid, and reliable measures of learning.

27. Experiential Learning
An instructional methodology in which the learners “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. Examples include: hands-on exercises, lab experiments, field exercises, and practicums.

28. Formative Evaluations and Summative Evaluations

  • Formative Evaluation is a technique used for learning-centered education in which learners are assessed periodically during a course (training), allowing them to engage in activities that take them from simple to advanced or more complex problems solving skills.
  • Summative Evaluation is a written objective assessment of the learner toward the end of the training. This comprehensive review is intended to document the learner’s integration of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary as an indicator of one or more of the following:
    • Ø The learner met the defined program or course outcomes.
    • Ø The course or program met the learners’ needs.
    • Ø The instructional methodology was effective.
    • Ø The student is prepared for professional practice.
    • Ø The service met the learners’ needs.

Excerpts from “Summing Up the Summative Evaluation” by Rosann Ippolito

  Formative Evaluation Summative Evaluation
What information Specific description of daily events General trends based on specific descriptions
  Organizational skills Overall attitude
  Needs assessment Comparison with evaluation tool
When to give At the time of the incident Mid-point in the course
  End of the day End of the course
  Weekly re: progress  


29. Front Door
A learning college concept in which learners experience success in their earliest encounters with SPCC and establish a solid foundation for success in future learning, with particular emphasis on students' initial 15 hours of enrollment. Points of emphasis will include strategies for focusing key resources, thoughtfully designed learning experiences, positive energy, and support at the beginning of the learners' college experience. Examples of the focus may include freshman orientation, advising as a teaching tool, key communications items for both faculty and students, faculty orientation and mentoring, Testing Center protocol, and Life Maps.

30. FTE (with formula)
FTE stands for one full-time equivalent student or 256 membership hours per semester (based on 16 weeks semester x 16 student membership hours per week). A student membership hour means one hour of scheduled class for which the student is enrolled.

  • Annual Curriculum FTE means the total of student hours in membership for fall and spring semesters divided by 512 (256 student hours per semester x 2).
  • Annual Continuing Education FTE means the total of the student hours in membership for the three reporting periods divided by 688 (based on two semesters of 16 weeks and a summer term of 11 weeks). The three reporting periods are fall semester, spring semester, and summer term.
  • Budget Full-time Equivalent (B/FTE) determines the college’s operating budget. State funds are appropriated based on the B/FTE reported by the college. The value of an FTE is established each year by the State Board of Community College based on funding provided by the General Assembly.

31. Full Partner
The learner assumes primary responsibility for his/her own choices in the learning process (one of the six key principles of a learning college).

32. Information Literacy
Information literacy enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

33. Institutional Effectiveness
SACS institutional effectiveness criteria 3.3.1:
"The institution identifies expected outcomes for its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services; assesses whether it achieves these outcomes; and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of those results."

SPCC institutional effectiveness plan incorporates identifying learning outcomes, assessing those outcomes and providing proof of continuous improvement as top priorities.

34. Learning Centered
Being learning centered means placing learning first in every policy, program, and practice. Learning centered means providing educational experiences any way, any where, any time by whatever means work best for students.

A learning centered college:

  • creates substantive change in individual learners
  • engages learners as full partners in the learning process
  • creates and offers as many options for learning as possible
  • assists learners to form and participate in collaborative learning activities
  • defines the roles of learning facilitators by the needs of the learners
  • succeeds only when improved and expanded learning can be documented for its learners
  • encourages all employees to identify their role in supporting learning at all levels

(Terry O’Banion)

35. Learning College
"The learning college places learning first and provides educational experiences for learners anyway, anyplace, anytime." (O'Banion, 1995-96, p. 22)

36. Learning Communities
Learning communities are environments that allow students to construct knowledge, make discoveries, and solve problems for themselves. (Robert Barr and John Tagg)

37. Learning Facilitators
The role of the learner-centered teacher is as a guide positioned along side the learner, who keeps the attention, focus, and spotlight aimed at and on the learning processes. In this role, the teacher is a guide and a resource to the students while they work to master the content and develop their own understanding of the concepts.

“Learner-centered teachers connect students and resources. They design activities and assignments that engage learners. They facilitate learning in individual and collective contexts. Their vast experience models for novice learners how difficult material can be accessed, explored and understood.” (Weimer, 2002, p. 76)
Weimer, M. (2002). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

38. Learning Paradigm vs. Teaching Paradigm
The teaching paradigm has been used by institutions to define their purpose – the purpose of the college is to teach. Typically this educational environment is composed of faculty who lecture while students listen, which does not provide the optimal learning environment.
The learning paradigm is a shift of the purpose of the college to “produce learning with every student by whatever means work best. The institution itself is a learner and over time continuously learns how to produce more learning with each graduating class.”

Excerpts from Barr & Tagg, Change, November/December 1995

39. Learning Styles
Cognitive, affective, and psychomotor behaviors that serve as indicators of how learners perceive, interact, and respond to the learning environment. Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic are learning modes upon which students rely most heavily during learning activities.

40. Learning Technologies
Methods of instructional design/development, presentation and evaluation, as well as the knowledge and use of current technology (software, equipment) in the learning college environment.

41. Life Compass
A plan to achieve short and long term educational and career goals.

42. Life-Long Learning
Concept that “It is never too soon or too late for learning”. Citizens are provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home, through leisure activities, and not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.

43. Measurable Change
Use of instruments such as questionnaires and assessments to enable comparison between the qualification of a magnitude of any kind (physical quantities, relations, persons, etc.)

44. Objectives or Performance Objectives or Competencies or Outcomes or Student Learning Outcomes
SPCC has chosen to use Student Learning Outcomes in our language.
Learning outcomes – statements of the knowledge, skills and abilities the individual student possesses and can demonstrate upon completion of a learning experience or sequence of learning experiences.

45. Open Door
SPCC is open to all adult learners and offers learning opportunities that maximize student success, develop a globally and multi-culturally competent workforce, and improve lives. Course work is provided from literacy through the pre-baccalaureate. SPCC offers continuing (occupational) education for individuals and business/industry, as well as recreational classes to our community.

46. Performance-Based Learning
Learning in an environment where the student is expected to be aware of competencies that are important for them to attain and the extent to which their learning experiences are meeting those expectations. Demonstration of student learning outcomes is also important to communicate to employers or the general public to show what students know and are able to do.

47. Portfolios and/or ePortfolios
Personal collection of academic work selected by the learner to showcase evidence, demonstrating essential competencies. The portfolio serves as a tool for both formative and summative assessment. ePortfolio is a digital collection.

48. Program Review
Meaningful systemic review process that contributes to the overall health of the college. An objective, fair, and consistent annual process to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of each program. It involves data-based decision making, which results in program and departmental inquiry, assessment, and future planning focused on improvement of student learning.

49. Quality Education Plan (QEP)
A document developed by the institution that

  1. includes a broad-based institutional process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment,
  2. focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution,
  3. demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP,
  4. includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP, and
  5. identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.

50. Reaffirmation (SACS)
To affirm or assert again that a school or college has met all formal official requirements of academic excellence, curriculum, facilities, etc. for regional accreditation.

51. Retention
The act of or process for helping learners persist toward achieving their educational goals. This is an indirect indicator of learning.

52. Rubric
Assessment criteria consisting of a grid and rating scale that specifies the required characteristics for each level of quality of knowledge, skills, and/or performances.

53. SACS and Accreditation
The regional accreditation agency for an 11-state region (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) that certifies a school, college, or the like as meeting all formal official requirements of academic excellence, curriculum, facilities, quality improvement, etc.

54. Stakeholder
A person or group that has an investment, share, or key interest in an organization, such as a business, industry, institution, or educational program.

55. Standards
A framework of expectations to guide the acceptable level of performance for an organization, individual, or program.

56. Strategic Plan
A well-devised, living document that guides the direction of an institution; including plans, steps, and measurements to determine where an organization is going, how it’s going to get there, and how it will know when the goals are met.

57. Strategies
A course of action designed to accomplish a plan or goal.

58. Substantive Change
A significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of a program, curriculum, or an accredited institution.

59. Team
A group of people working together to obtain one or more goals.