VIII. Definitions and terminology

This section presents the definitions of terms used in this handbook.


A measurement process of the learning that has taken place. Usually measured against stated learning outcomes


Areas of personal capability that enable people to perform successfully in their jobs by completing task effectively. A competency combines knowledge, attitudes, skills, values, or personal values to carry out tasks effectively. Competency comprises the specification of knowledge and skill and the application of that knowledge and skill to the standard of performance required in employment

Competency-based instruction

Instruction that is organized around a set of learning outcomes based upon the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to perform a set of skills called competencies. Evaluation of student success is based on competent performance of the skills


School of human learning, which believes in the need to identify current learning prior to constructing new meaning. Knowledge is seen as a mental construct that is built on and added to. Learners create an image of what the world is like and how it operates and they adapt and transform their understanding of new experiences in light of what they already “know”
This theory of learning has consequences for teaching and learning strategies. It means that trainers must recognize how a learner already sees the world, and how that learner believes it to operate. New information presented to the learner will be modified by what the learner already knows and believes. By starting “where the learner is at”, that is, engaging prior knowledge with present learning, the trainer assists the students to build on her understanding of the world and its workings


The development of knowledge, skills and attitude not necessarily related to one’s job


The process of gathering information in order to make good decisions.  It is broader than testing, and includes both subjective (opinion) input and objective (fact) input. Evaluation can take many forms including memorization tests, portfolio assessment and self-reflection. There are at least six major reasons for evaluating training, each requiring a different type of evaluation:

  • Improve the instruction (formative evaluation)
  • Promote individual growth and self-evaluation (evaluation by both trainer and learner)
  • Assess the degree of demonstrated achievement (summative evaluation attained by the teacher)
  • Diagnose future learning needs (of both trainer and learner)
  • Enhance one’s sense of merit or worth (learner)
  • Identify or clarify desired behaviours (trainer)

Experiential Learning

A learning activity having a behavioural-based hierarchy that allows the student to experience and practice job-related tasks and functions during a training session


A person who makes it easier for learners to learn by attempting to discover what a learner is interested in knowing and then determining the best way to make that information available to the learner by providing the knowledge, systems or materials that enable the learner to perform a task more effectively. This is done by listening, asking questions, providing ideas, suggesting alternatives and identifying possible resources


A document prepared specifically to provide guidance information


Supporting information to be used by the learner as reference material in a training programme


Student practice on actual equipment, simulators or training aids


The delivery of information to enable learning. The process by which knowledge and skills are transferred to students. Instruction applies to both training and education

Learner-centred instruction

An instructional process in which the content is determined by the student’s needs, the instructional materials are geared to the student’s abilities and the instructional design makes the students active participants

Learning outcomes

Clear statements of behaviour that learners are to demonstrate as a result of instruction

Learning taxonomy
(Bloom’s Hierarchy)

A taxonomic classification of cognitive, affective and psychomotor behaviours for the purposes of test design invented by Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues.  Learning is broken down into three domains:

  • Affective: the manner in which we deal with things emotionally – our feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations and attitudes
  • Cognitive: the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedures, concepts and universals that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills
  • Psychomotor: involves physical movement, coordination and use of motor skill areas

Levels of competence

There are four levels of competence:

  • Unconscious incompetence: the learner is unaware that he cannot do a task
  • Conscious incompetence: the learner is aware of the task, but cannot do it
  • Conscious competence: the learner is able to think through a task step-by-step and do it
  • Unconscious competence: the learner can do the task without thinking about intermediate steps

Performance criteria / standards

Part of a learning outcome that describes the observable learner behavior (or the product of that behavior) that is acceptable as proof that learning has occurred

Performance measures

The actions that can be objectively observed and measured to determine whether a task performer has performed the task to the prescribed standard

Psychomotor domain

Involves physical movement and coordination. The major categories of taxonomy in order of ascending difficulty are:

  • Imitation: observes skill and tries to repeat it
  • Manipulation: performs skill according to instruction rather than observation
  • Precision: reproduces a skill with accuracy, proportion and exactness. Usually performed independent of original source
  • Articulation: combines one or more skills in sequence with harmony and consistency
  • Naturalization: completes one or more skills with ease and becomes automatic

Session plan

A written guide for trainers in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes. It provides specific definition and direction on learning outcomes, equipment, instructional media material requirements and conduct of the training


General capacities to perform a set of tasks developed through the acquisition of experience and/or training, which require more than just knowing about the subject

Skills transfer

Ability acquired for the performance of a task that may be used in the performance of a different task

SMART goals

S = Specific   M = Measurable   A = Attainable   R = Realistic   T = Timely

Target population

The total collection of a population that is scheduled to enter a given instructional programme

Teaching methods

The approach used to present information in a manner that achieves learning.  Approaches include lectures, tutorials, role play, simulation, etc. Aspects of teaching strategies include the order of presentation, level of interaction, feedback, testing strategies and the medium used to present the information.


The systematic process of developing knowledge, skills and attitudes for current or future jobs.