This glossary briefly defines terms used throughout this website, and some commonly used terms in higher education in general, along with a list of commonly used acronyms.

Academic Citizenship

Term sometimes used to refer to the (often hidden and/or unrecognised) activities that academics routinely engage with in service to the academic community. For example, offering support and mentoring new colleagues and students; undertaking external examining duties and/or external review for other universities; reviewing book proposals and joining a journal editorial board.

Academic Freedom

Broad term, referring to the protection afforded academics as employees to speak freely and critically on controversial subjects, and the unwritten research code allowing research endeavour to be governed by the direction that the research takes the researcher. In practice, the term is also often used when seeking to delineate its limits, and in marking a line between freedom and responsibility.

Action Learning Set

Can be a very formal arrangement but need be no more than an agreement amongst a group of colleagues to meet/engage regularly for a set period to have their ideas/work critically scrutinised. Often encourages a deeper understanding of the issues particularly if individuals are receptive to peer review. The necessity of meeting/engaging regularly with colleagues can also help to defeat the procrastination which comes with busy working lives.

Action Research

Approach to research which emphasises the role of the professional practitioner using research tools to solve professional problems, and which often treats the research participants as collaborators (often students) in the research process rather than as respondents (see particularly the work of Jean McNiff). Often depicted as a cycle or series of cycles where a problem is identified, explored, solution evaluated, and then re-examined for a second time.

Boyer, Ernest

His seminal text on scholarship reconsidered (1990) is often viewed as the step change text in promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning (see separate entry). But the text was also instrumental in promoted a more rounded and holistic approach to scholarship in general – including discovery (original research), application, integration, and teaching – and equalising esteem between them.

College based higher education (CBHE)

Term often used to describe college higher education, and the preferred term of the Higher Education Academy. Only used on this website when quoting or referring to academic, professional or policy literature where the term is expressly used.

College higher education (CHE)

The preferred term used throughout this website to describe the nature of the higher education provided by colleges of all types.


A term used variously throughout academia to bring together colleagues, usually from the same discipline or subject area, and usually with a specific theme, to debate and offer feedback to colleagues who have presented papers. Conferences have varied formats including on-line. Some organisers prefer the word symposium to encourage the view that the exchange of ideas is more to the fore than formal presentation of research findings.

Critical pedagogy

Term commonly associated with the work of Paulo Friere, in highlighting the need for the curriculum to help (particularly) disadvantaged groups not only understand their circumstances, but also to be educated such that they could act to change those circumstance. Term continues to be used by radical educationalists, such as Henry Giroux and bell hooks.

Degree Awarding Powers (DAP)

The process through which a college can apply to award its own full teaching degrees (TDAP) or sub-degrees/foundation degrees (FDAP). Research degree awarding powers (RDAP) also exist, as does the process to earn the right to use 'university title'.

Further education college (FEC)

Used throughout this website to describe those colleges who are legally constituted in the UK as providers of further education courses. N.B. Not all college higher education providers are FECs.

Going Public

Term used to distinguish between being critically reflective about teaching and learning – possibly through engagement in institution-based peer review exercises – and disseminating the results as publically available published research – subjecting those results to wider peer review and public scrutiny (see Kreber 2013).

Harvard referencing

The preferred referencing system used throughout this website. Other referencing systems will only be found when referring to documents from outside the scholarship framework which used a recognised alternative referencing system.

Higher education in further education (HE in FE)

Term often found in policy and academic literature to describe the nature of college higher education. Only used on this website when quoting or referring to texts where the term is expressly used, or when the wider further education context is directly related to the nature of the college higher education being provided.

Higher education student (or student)

Preferred term used throughout this website to describe those enrolled on a higher education course provided by a college. Some colleges prefer the word learner and this will be used when quoting or referring to such contexts or where that term is deemed more appropriate.

Higher education teacher (or teacher)

Preferred term used throughout this website to describe those involved in teaching, learning and assessment, including lecturing and tutoring. Only when a very specific role is being described (e.g. learning support) would an alternative term be used.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Term used to refer to the ownership of a creative work or invention. The scholarship framework and its contents may be used by all registered users under a common license agreement, but the authors of the various resources should be acknowledged as their owners, where appropriate (using the reference provided in each case).

Open Access

Term used to describe the free movement of, and access to, publications in various forms. Sometimes used as a contrast term to distinguish these types of publications with those where access is limited to registered users and/or a payment is required, or distribution rights are limited. A common license agreement may often be included with a publication in order to encourage freer distribution.


A term variously used throughout academia to refer to the process by which an academic prepares ideas and/or research work for public scrutiny. This might literally be a paper, as in a formal written document, but might also include a proposal to be sent to a conference organising team or a workshop outline. A paper (be it in the form of a presentation or workshop) would, after review of its feedback, normally proceed to further forms of peer review before final publication.

Peer review

The process whereby colleagues evaluate the quality and effectiveness of each other’s work. This might include aspects of teaching, managing, leading and/or research, including peer review of work intended for publication. Often used to contrast this horizontal form of evaluation from more managerial, vertical forms of assessment of practice for the purposes of formal appraisal.

Peer-reviewed journal

A journal which employs (usually unpaid) academic colleagues from the relevant discipline or subject area to review drafts of submissions to be included in a future edition. The journal editor will usually expect two reviewers to blindly evaluate the submission and offer comments on its suitability for publication. 'Blind review' usually means that the reviewers will not see each other’s comments or be aware of who the author of the submission is.


Term sometimes used to articulate the relationship between theory and practice in a discipline-based or 'work-based learning' course. The term speaks to the two-way process of generating theory from practice, and vice versa, and the need for all knowledge to be re-contextualised as it moves from context to context.


Term sometimes used interchangeably with scholarship or scholarly activity, and sometimes as the means to distinguish a particular form of activity in contradistinction to those terms. Research is defined by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.

Research Ethics

A set of moral guidelines, principles and actions employed during the research process regarding the acquisition, storage, sharing and dissemination of data. The scope of research ethics includes the consideration of benefits, risks and potential harm of all participants in the research process and the potential persons impacted by the research.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The UK framework through which the quality of higher education research is judged. Undertaken every four years since 1986. N.B. Until 2008 it was the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) but was replaced, in part, to enhance the impact measure of research.

Research-Teaching nexus

Term used to describe the various ways that research and teaching could be combined or united in a higher education context. The word research here might include scholarship, or be used in conjunction with it, as in 'research and scholarship'. On occasion the word teaching will incorporate learning, as in 'research which enhances learning'.


Preferred term used throughout this website to describe all the aids aimed at enhancing scholarship cultures in college settings. Particular resources may be further described as toolkits, surveys, guidance documents, etc., as appropriate.

Scholarly activity

Term often used in colleges to refer to the kinds of subject updating and other similar activities undertaken as part of continuing professional development. Occasionally used on this website to highlight a contrast with scholarship, or when quoting or referring to other work or texts where the term is expressly used.


Term used throughout the website to refer to activities aimed at furthering knowledge and understanding and its public dissemination in order to enhance student learning. Often used in conjunction with Ernest Boyer’s four scholarships of discovery, application, integration and teaching (Boyer 1990).

Scholarship Framework

The term used throughout this website to describe the entirety of its contents. The word framework refers to the navigational and other support provided to aid the adoption and adaption of the resources to help build and enhance scholarship cultures in college settings.

Scholarship of teaching and Learning (SoTL)

The scholarship of teaching and learning; term highlighting the importance of teaching and learning methods being underpinned and informed by the research and scholarly evidence for their effectiveness. For some, an emphasis was placed on action research (see separate entry). For others, reflecting on practice and the further need for 'going public' (see separate entry) on the findings was emphasised.

Scholarship Policy

Term used on this website to refer to documents and related practices which outline a college-wide approach to embedding forms of scholarship in its higher education provision. A policy would normally outline the ways that scholarship (however defined by context) is targeted, resourced, evaluated and rewarded. Wherever possible this would include references to staff, students and employers.

Scholarship Project

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) catalyst funded project aimed at raising the profile of college higher education in England through the enhancement of scholarship that enhances learning. The evidence from this project (2015-2018) was the main source for the resources which appear in the Scholarship Framework.

Student Engagement

Blanket term used to describe myriad ways in which students might be more actively involved in student life. Has obvious connections with 'engaged learning' in the formal curriculum, but is also used in broader contexts, e.g. where students act as mentors to other students; and/or engage in outreach and community projects.


Term associated with Ron Barnett (2000), highlighting not just the complexity brought about by the sheer amount of knowledge and information currently available, but also the multiple epistemological axes for knowledge production, and the need to be critically aware of the conditions of its production – requiring a heightened sense of reflexivity amongst students.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The UK framework through which the quality of higher education teaching is judged. Introduced in 2016 to sit alongside the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in order to enhance the profile and reputation of teaching in higher education.

United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF)

The higher education sector owned framework for professional standards for those engaged in higher education teaching and the support of learning. Housed and reviewed by the Higher Education Academy.