PLT Study Guide

Ability grouping – The technique of helping students achieve individual goals by placing those of similar ability together, either in groups in the same classroom (homogeneous grouping) or in separate classrooms (tracking).

Acceleration – A change in the regular school program that permits a gifted student to complete a program in less time or at an earlier age than usual.

Accommodation – Piaget’s term that refers to a change in cognitive structures that produces corresponding behavioral changes.

Accountability – the idea of holding schools, districts, educators, and students responsible for results

Achievement test – Measures accomplishments in such specific subjects as reading, mathematics, etc.

Adaptation – Piaget’s term for one of the two psychological mechanisms used to explain cognitive development. The other is organization.

Adolescent egocentric thinking – A characteristic of adolescent thought in which adolescents assume that everyone thinks as they do; that everyone is “looking at them.”

Advance organizers – David Ausubel’s term to describe a type of teaching that explains what is to come. It could be an outline, a list, an introductory paragraph, etc.

Aesthetics – referring to the nature of beauty and judgments about it.

Aptitude test – A test that assesses a student’s general or specific abilities; it shows ability, potential, “flair,” talent, etc.

Assessment – All 50 states now have some statewide testing policies in place. The logic behind these state assessment systems has been to find a more accurate way to measure student success as well as to hold schools accountable for results. While a centerpiece of standards-based reform, state testing policies have caused considerable controversy. The resulting debate over assessment is at the heart of the debate over education reform.

Assimilation – Piaget’s term to describe how we take new information into our minds and make sense of it, based on our background knowledge.

Authentic assessment – A means of securing information about a student’s success or failure on meaningful and significant tasks. There is a performance component where the student actually shows what he/she can do, unlike a paper-and-pencil objective type of test.

Axiology – The study of valuing and values, what is good.

Behavior modification – A deliberate attempt to control student behavior by using positive and negative reinforcement.

Behaviorism – a psychology and a philosophy that contends that behavior represents the essence of a person. B.F. Skinner

Bilingual Education – A program designed to help those with limited English proficiency (LEP) to acquire English and learn in school by teaching them partly in English and partly in their own language.

Brown vs. Board of Education – case in 1954, which resulted in a decision to provide an equal opportunity for a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities. No segregation that is deliberate. Separate but equal is unequal.

Centering – Piaget’s term to describe a child’s tendency to concentrate on only part of an object or activity. This is a characteristic of preoperational children (ages 2-7).

Charter Schools – The basic concept of a charter is simple: Allow a group of teachers or other would-be educators to apply for permission from their local education authority to open a school, operating with taxpayer dollars, just like a public school. The difference? Free them from the rules and regulations that charter school supporters say can cripple learning and stifle innovation.

Choice – School choice initiatives are based on the premise that allowing parents to choose what schools their children attend is not only the fair thing to do, but also an important strategy for improving public education.

Cognitive style – a preference to respond to a variety of problems or tasks in a particular fashion.

Concrete operations – Piaget’s third stage of cognitive development, extending approximately from ages 7 to 11.

Conservation – Piaget’s term that refers to the realization that the essence of something remains constant, although surface features may change. Example: Show a student a ball of clay; in front of the student, mash the clay flat. Ask, “Is this still the same amount of clay that we started with?” If the child says “No,” the child is not using conservation.

Construct validity – A test has construct validity when it actually measures the knowledge domain or behavior it claims to measure. For instance, if you give a social studies test and a student does poorly because the reading level was too difficult. That test does not have construct validity, because it is measuring reading ability besides social studies content.

Constructivism – individuals differ in what they perceive and how they form ideas.

Content validity – A test has content validity if it adequately samples behavior that has been the goal of instruction.

Contingency contracting – A teacher and student decide on a behavioral goal and what the student will receive when the goal is reached.

Core Curriculum – curriculum design in which one subject or group of subjects becomes a focal unit around which all other subjects are correlated.

Criterion-referenced Testing – Taking student scores on an instrument and comparing them to a standard. Example being a spelling test, or, “Johnny got 88% of his math questions correct.”

Cultural Pluralism – a set of tenets based upon 3 principals (1) every culture has its own internal logic; (2) no culture is better or worse than another (3) all persons are to some extent culture-bound.

Culture – the ways a group of people form beliefs, evaluates ideas and experiences, the way they behave, and way they perceive the world.

Decoding – Using the sounds and grammar of a language to interpret a message. Reading and comprehending are included in decoding.

Desists – A teacher’s actions to stop misbehavior.

Desegregation – In its landmark 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously outlawed segregation and declared that racially separate schools are inherently unequal. This ruling overturned the high court’s previous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which had allowed state-imposed segregation, calling such schools “separate but equal.”

Didactic teaching – Refers to those effective teachers who persistently seek appropriate goals and insist on student responsibility and accountability.

Discovery learning – Bruner’s term for learning that involves the rearrangement and transformation of material that leads to insight.

Egocentrism – the difficulty a young child may find in taking another person’s point of view.

Enrichment – A method of instruction for gifted students in which they are furnished with additional challenging experiences.

Epistemology – the study of knowing and knowledge. What is true.

Essentialism: emphasis on physical sciences as used by authorities; assumption that there are no absolute truths and that success is based on absorption of knowledge about the physical world.

Ethnic Group – a collection of people who identify with one another on one of more of the following, race, religion, language, values, political interests, economic interests, behavior patterns, country of ancestry. May favor different learning techniques.

Experimentalism: emphasis on social sciences as a framework for problem solving; assumption that the physical world is constantly changing.

Extrinsic motivation – Those rewards and inducements external to students. For instance, students learn some material in order to earn stickers or candy, not for its own sake.

Field sensitive – A tendency to be influenced by personal relationships and praise from authority figures.

Formal operations – Piaget’s term that refers to that period of cognitive development that sees the beginning of logical, abstract thinking. This stage begins at about 11 years of age.

Formative evaluation (or assessment) – Intended to aid learning by providing feedback about what has been learned and what remains to be learned. Example, a quiz over the material covered in a particular lesson; a homework assignment.

Fragmentation – A form of slowdown in which a teacher has individual students doing something that it would be better for the entire group to do.

Gender Equity – More than a quarter of a century after Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which barred exclusion on the basis of sex from federally funded programs, many experts argue that discrimination against girls in the classroom and on the playing field continues to be a nationwide problem in elementary and secondary schools.

Heuristics – Using alternative search patterns to solve problems; generating new possible solutions.

Home Schooling – Home schooling has often been dismissed as a fringe activity, its practitioners caricatured as head-in-the-sand reactionaries and off-the-grid hippies. The most vocal and organized home schoolers have tended to be religiously motivated, most often conservative Christians. But a newer breed of home schooler is emerging, motivated not by religious belief or countercultural philosophy. Uppermost for such parents are concerns about violence, peer pressure, and poor academic quality in their schools.

IDEA – Individuals with disabilities Education Act. This was designed to provide services for handicapped students in the least restrictive environment.

IEP – Individual Educational Plan. A form of individualized learning plan for a specific student.

Inclusion – The concept of “full inclusion” calls for teaching students with disabilities in regular classrooms, rather than in special classes or pull-out sessions.

Inquiry teaching – Bruner’s belief that teaching should permit students to be active partners in the search for knowledge, thus enhancing the meaning of what they learn.

Intelligence Testing – numerous test try and measure a trait known as general intelligence or G or Spearman’s G. (IQ tests)

Intermittent reinforcers – Reinforcers or rewards that are only occasionally implemented.

Intrinsic motivation – Students themselves want to learn and do not need external inducements, such as stickers or candy.

Irreversibility – Piaget’s term to describe children’s inability to reverse their thinking. Example: a child can count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 but cannot count backward, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

Joplin Plan – an ability grouping technique that combines students of different grade levels according to their standardized test scores.

Learning disabilities – Refers to a handicapping condition characterized by a discrepancy between ability and achievement, most commonly manifested in reading, writing, reasoning, and/or mathematics.

Least restrictive environment – A learning environment or classroom situation that provides necessary support for a handicapped student’s continuing educational progress while also minimizing the time the student is removed from a normal educational environment. Similar in intent to the concept of mainstreaming. Mandated by Public law 94-142.

Locus of control – Refers to the causes of behavior. Some individuals believe it resides within them (internal locus of control) while others believe it resides outside of themselves: other people, “fate,” etc. (external locus of control).

Mainstreaming – Integrating physically, mentally, and behaviorally handicapped students into regular classes.

Mean – The average of the raw scores. Example: Twenty students in the class take a test. To get the mean score, add up all the scores of all 20 students and divide by 20.

Median – The point in a distribution above which and below which 50% of the scores lie. Example: 11 students take a test. Their scores are 100, 98, 95, 94, 92, 88, 86, 86, 85, 83, 77. The medial is 88 because it is the middle score.

Melting pot – A term referring to the assimilation of diverse ethnic groups into one national mainstream.

Metacognition – The ability to think about thinking.

Metaphysics – The study of what is real

Mode – The score obtained by the largest number of individuals taking a test. Example: 11 students take a test. Their scores are 100, 98, 95, 94, 92, 88, 86, 86, 85, 83, 77. The most frequent score is 86. The mode is 86. In the case of two most frequently occurring scores, such as 100, 98, 95, 94, 92, 92, 88, 86, 86, 83, 77, there are two modes (bimodal): 92 and 86. A multimodal test has a distribution with more than 2 modes.

Multiple intelligences – Gardner’s seven relatively autonomous intelligences. They are: bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, and spatial.

A Nation at Risk – the first major national report (published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) calling for educational reform in the curriculum, expectations, time and teaching.
National Educational Goals 2000 –

1. All children ready to learn
2. 90 % grad rate
3. all children competent in core subjects
4. first in the world in math and science
5. every adult literate and able to compete in work force
6. safe, disciplined, drug-free schools
7. professional development for education
8. increased parental involvement

Negative reinforcers – Stimuli whose withdrawal strengthens behavior. Example: putting a student in a “Time out” area is a negative reinforcer, because he/she is placed in a situation for a certain amount of time, after which he/she may again join the group.

Normal distribution curve – A theoretical curve noted for its bell-shaped form. The theory is that most of any population will score with an average range, which is represented by the highest points of the bell shape.

Norm-referenced testing – Taking student scores on an instrument and comparing those scores to other students or a normed group of peers. Example being ACT, SAT, TCAP, GRE, Praxis I and II.

Overdwelling – A form of slowdown in which a teacher spends excessive time on a topic.

Overlapping – Teachers can handle two or more classroom issues simultaneously. Example: the teacher sits with a reading group while s/he watches the rest of the classroom, occasionally signaling directives to students through body language.

Pedagogy – The science of teaching.

Percentile score – A score that tells the percentage of individuals taking a test who are at or below a particular score; a percentile rank of 85, for example, means that the student did as well or better than 85% of those taking the test.

Perennialism – emphasis on the humanities as presented in great books; assumption that there are absolute truths and standards that are more real that the physical world.

Phonics v Whole Language – Traditional American education, therefore, begins with reading lessons that focus on phonics (sounding out first letters, then combinations of letters), tightly controlled vocabulary, and short “basal” (or basic) reading passages, followed by numerous skills exercises, each with only one correct answer.

“Whole language” represents a different philosophy about teaching, learning, and the role of language in the classroom. It stresses that children should use language in ways that relate to their own lives and cultures. In the whole-language classroom, the final product–the “answer”– isn’t as important as the process.

Portfolio assessment – A means of assessing a student based on a collection of his/her work that the student and teacher feel are important evidence of learning. Example: included may be student drawings, written work, tests and quizzes, homework, projects, etc.

Postconventional level – Kohlberg’s 3rd level of moral development – when individuals act according to an enlightened conscience.

Pragmatism – a philosophy that maintains that the value and truth of ideas are tested by their practical consequences.

Preconventional level – Kohlberg’s first level of moral development – when children respond mainly to reward and punishment (ages 4-10 approximate).

Preoperational – Piaget’s term to describe a child from about ages 2-7 who has begun to use symbols but is not really capable yet of mentally manipulating them.

Pretend play – A characteristic of the early childhood years – the child shows an increasing ability to let something represent another thing. Example: these blocks are a castle; or this pillow is a mountain.

Progressivism – educational philosophy in which learning focuses on the child while he or she is acquiring the content of the curriculum.

Proximity control – Moving close to a misbehaving student.

Pygmalion Effect – impact of teacher expectations leads to self-fulfilling prophecy. Seen in TESA (Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement.)

Qualitative data – Observations that consist of words, labels, or numerical codes. More difficult to measure than quantitative data.

Quantitative data – Observations consisting of numbers that indicate differences in amounts.

Random sample – A sample selected so that at each stage of the sampling, all members of the population have an equal chance of being included in the sample.

Range – Indicates the measure of variability from the highest score to the lowest score.

Reconstitution – Reconstitution means the taking over or closing of a school, or the replacement of any or all school staff. It is one of the most drastic sanctions and most severe interventions a state or district can take to turn around low-performing schools.

Reliability – A test is said to be reliable if a student’s scores are about the same in repeated testing.

Reversibility – Piaget’s term for a child’s ability to use cognitive operations to take things apart and to reverse thinking.

Ripple effect – Kounin’s term to signify the effects on students seated near a particular student who is being reprimanded or praised.

Schema – The mental framework that serves as a foundation for thinking; this is the framework that will modify incoming data.

School – Based management – a reform concept that encourages individual schools to be involved in decision making and urges greater teacher participation in governance.

SES – socioeconomic status characteristics – quantifiable social standing, determined by government.

Self-Efficacy – beliefs for academic and social tasks become strong influences on behavior.

Semantics – Refers to the meaning of words, the relationship between ideas and words.

Sensorimotor – Piaget’s term for the first stage of cognitive development (ages birth to 2).

Seriation – Piaget’s term that refers to the ability of children to arrange objects by increasing or decreasing size.

Shaping – A form of classroom management. Teachers determine the successive steps that are needed to master a task, then teach them separately, reinforcing each step.

Social cognitive learning – Bandura’s theory that refers to the process where the information we get from observing others will also influence our own behavior.

Social reinforcers – Interpersonal activities, such as the attention of others, which reinforces behavior.

Sociometrics – A method of summarizing a student’s status with peers. The results will indicate the most and least popular students, for example.

Standard deviation – A measure of variability that roughly indicates the average amount by which scores deviate from the mean or average score. Example: A score with a standard deviation of +1 means that the student scored above the average student’s score on that test. Standard deviations are written -3, -2, -1, 0 (the mean), +1, +2, +3

Stanine scores – A standard score that classifies those taking a test into one of 9 groups. An average stanine would be 5.

Summative evaluation – A measure of a student’s achievement at the completion of a block of work. Example: an end of chapter test; an end of grade test; an end of unit test.

T-score – A standard score with a mean (average) of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. A student who scores 80, for example, is 3 standard deviations about the mean.

Taxonomy – A classification system. Bloom’s Taxonomy, for example, is a classification of upper to lower levels of cognitive processing. There are taxonomies in all three of the following domains…

(a) Psychomotor domain – classification of instructional outcomes that focuses on physical abilities and skills.

(b) Affective domain -a classification of instructional outcomes that concentrates on attitudes and values.

(c) Cognitive domain – A classification scheme of instructional outcomes that stresses knowledge and intellectual skills, including comprehension, application, analysis, syntheses, and evaluation (Bloom’s theory)

Time on task – The time a student spends actively engaged in learning.

Time out – A form of punishment in which a student loses something desirable for a period of time. Example: sitting at an empty desk in the corner of the room, having no contact with other students, for a set period of time.

Token economy – A form of classroom management in which students receive tokens for desirable behavior. These may be exchanged for something else, such as candy, gum, pencils, stickers, etc.

Tracking – method of placing students according to their ability level or learning experiences, where they follow same curriculum, that is, college preparatory, vocational or both.

Unions – The National Education Association is the largest (~3M), the AFT is the second largest (~1M) and is associated with AFL-CIO.

Validity – A test is said to have validity if it measures what it is supposed to measure.

Vouchers – taxpayer-financed tuition aid that parents can use to send their children to private schools.

With-it-ness – A teacher has the proverbial “eyes in the back of her/his head.” Teachers know what’s happening in their classrooms at all times.

Zone of proximal development – Vygotsky. What children can do independently and what they can do with help. Instructional level.

Z-scores – A score that tells the distance of a student’s raw score from the mean (in standard deviation units). Example: a student with a z-score of +3 is scoring 3 standard deviations above the mean (average).


Alfred Binet – French psychologist that tested the intellectual functioning of Paris school children.

Benjamin Bloom – The first Educational Psychologist that organized cognitive activity into a taxonomy. You know Bloom’s taxonomy!

Jerome Bruner – Cognitive psychologist (add stuff here…)

William James – generally recognized as the first American psychologist and author of Talks with Teachers.

Robert Mager – recommends that teachers use objectives that identify the behavioral act that indicates achievement, define conditions under which the behavior is to occur and state the criterion of acceptable performance.

David Wechsler – devised Wechsler Sacles, most popular tests for classification purposes, WPPSI-III 3 to 7 years; WISC-III 7 to 16 years WAIS-III 16 years. Information, comprehension, similarities, arithmetic, etc.

Jean Piaget – cognitive development -caused by 2 factors, heredity and environmental experience. Involves organization; scheme; adaptation; (most affected by heredity i.e. brain, reflexes, etc.)- assimilation; accommodation; cognitive development more affected by peers than adults (environment); instruction can accelerate development of schemes that have already begun to form. Avoid what children cannot meaningfully understand; gear activities to each student’s intellectual level; begin with concrete ideas before introducing abstract; (Birth – 2) develops schemes through sensorimotor; (2-7) preoperational- acquires ability to conserve and decenter , but not capable of operations an unable to mentally reverse actions.; (7-11) concrete operational – capable o operations; solves problems from generalizing concrete experiences; cannot manipulate conditions mentally unless they have been experienced; (11 and up) formal – ability to deal with abstractions, form hypothesis, solve problems systematically, engage in mental manipulations.

Eric Erickson – involves the whole life span; personality grows out of successful resolution of psychosocial crisis (personal experience)

(ages 2-3) autonomy vs shame

(4-5) initiative vs guilt

(6-11) industry vs inferiority

(12-18) identity vs role confusion

Lev Vygotsky – believed cognitive development more strongly influenced by those more intellectually advanced and social interactions. Children learn more from instructional interactions; especially in their zone; aim slightly ahead of what children should know (zdp) – learn by giving instruction within a child’s zone of proximal development, this helps them learn what they could not master on their own.

B.F. Skinner – developed theory of operant conditioning, based on the fact that organisms respond to their environments in particular ways to obtain or avoid particular consequences.

Sigmund Freud – psychoanalysis, the id, ego and superego. Interpretation of dreams.

E.L. Thorndike and Robert Woodworth proposed an alternative explanation of how transfer occurs. They argued that the degree to which knowldge and skills acquired in learning one task can help someone learn another task depends on how similar the two tasks are. The greater degree of similarity, the greater amount of transfer will be. Theory of identical elements.

Tom Gordon pshychologist offers teachers practical suggestions in Teacher Effectiveness Training.

Socrates – teacher would ask a series of questions that led the student to a certain conclusion.

Aristotle – believed that a person’s most important puropse was to serve and improve mankind. Educational method, sicentific, practical objecctive, believed it should be regulated by law and be useful.

Plato – educational method discovered each individuals’ abilities, who should do manual work, who should be soldiers and philosophers.

Carol Gilligan – says males and females use different approaches to solving moral dilemmas; females – caring, helping, cooperation; males – justice, fairness, individual rights.

L. Kohlberg – elaborated on Piaget’s ideas on moral thinking – differed on stages – believed moral development is accelerated through instruction.

Six stages of development

(stage 1) punishment-obedience orientation – physical consequences of an action determine how bad it was;

(stage 2) instrumental relativist orientation – an action is judged to be right if it is instrumental in satisfying one’s needs or involves an even exchange.

(stage 3) good boy – nice girl orientation. right action will please others.

(stage 4) law and order orientation – maintain the social order by established fixed rules which must be obeyed.

(stage 5) social contract orientation – rules needed to maintain the social order should be based on mutual agreement, the rights of individuals should be protected.

(stage 6) universal ethical principle orientation – moral decisions should be made in terms of self-chosen ethical principals.

Diana Baumrind – analysis of child rearing. Authoritative – authoritarian – permissive parents:

Authoritative parenting – confident children

Authoritarian parenting – children act out of fear.

Permissive parenting – children have no self-confidence, disorganized.