WHAT’S “RIGOR”? EDUCATION JARGON DEMYSTIFIED FOR PARENTS
If you have children in school, you may wish that school boards, test makers, and politicians would learn that “jettison the jargon” lesson. Everyday parents find such sentences as “We must emphasize rigor and accurate summative assessments to ensure students master critical thinking at an early age” mind-numbing to decipher.
So to help you “translate” such language, here’s a glossary of some commonly used terms, “de-jargonized” into plain English.
Backward Design: Beginning with the end in mind, or using pre-set educational goals as guidelines for creating curricula.
Collaboration: Shorthand for “collaborative learning,” or sometimes for “collaborative teaching.” Means that students (or teachers) work as a team to complete a project and achieve common goals.
Cooperative Learning: Another name for the type of collaborative learning that has students work in organized small groups
Critical Thinking: The skill of analyzing a situation objectively (not “critically” in the negative sense) and pinpointing the best action to take. Sometimes called “creative thinking,” especially when it focuses on generating new viewpoints or options.
Formative Assessment: The act of evaluating student progress after getting a short way into a term (sometimes also refers to the evaluation of student experience before a term begins).
Growth Mindset: A mindset that sees life as a series of learning and development experiences. Someone with a growth mindset is unafraid to try new challenges; maintains self-confidence even when it takes multiple tries to yield results; and regards learning as something to be continued long past graduation (or retirement). The opposite of growth mindset is fixed mindset, a self-limiting attitude that treats life as an endless (and same-old) list of tasks chosen according to current ability.
Project-Based Learning: Learning by doing, or participating in active projects that build creativity and thinking skills. (The opposite is input-based learning, which focuses on study and memorization.)
Rigor: Designing class material with a focus on making it appropriately challenging for each student. Different from simple high standards in that it emphasizes individual abilities and needs.
Self-Regulation: The ability to work responsibly with minimal supervision. Can also refer to an organized system that enables a classroom or other community to function with minimal outside regulation.
Social-Emotional Learning: Learning to manage one’s own emotions, relate effectively to others, and make responsible decisions.
Summative Assessment: A formal evaluation of students’ progress, conducted at the end of a school term. Methods of summative assessment include final exams, class presentations, student-designed projects, and critical-thinking tests.
At Shady Oak, we pride ourselves on using the best educational practices and on communicating clearly with students and parents. Call us today with any questions!