The Real Meaning of Common Teaching Phrases

Carl Mungan

peer instruction What is happening when 5 workers are at a construction site and only 1 has a shovel.
structured reflection Student complaints about your course policies.
inquiry-based activity  What instructors have the students do when they didn’t have time to fully prepare their notes.
constructivism  Attempting to construct sense out of student nonsense.
assessment  Retroactively making up explanations for why you did what you did in the course.
curving the grades  Rewarding students who didn’t learn the material.
problem-solving sessions Doing the homework for the students.
physics education research Double-counting teaching as research on your annual faculty activity report.
conceptual understanding Attribute of students who cannot solve problems.
student-centered teaching  Any classroom technique that is effective in the instructor’s opinion.
extra credit Benefitting students who didn’t make time for homework.
modeling method Working through all the steps of an example problem.
interactive engagement What happens when the instructor is present in class, as opposed to “inactive engagement” when the instructor is absent.
mastery learning Allowing students to repeat a test until they have memorized all possible permutations of it.
course objectives/standards A list of everything students probably know about the subject before they take the course.
collaborative environment The result of randomly rearranging desks in your classroom.

(In the spirit of a similar list entitled “Useful Research Phrases” which you can find by googling it.)


Disclaimer - The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.