Published Date

May 25, 2022

Resource Type

For the Classroom


Teaching Methods

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Professional Life, Teaching & Learning

This resource is part of the AHA’s Guidelines for Online Teaching.


Active Learning

A teaching approach that actively engages students with the course material through case studies, debate, discussion, group projects, inquiry, peer instruction, problem solving, or role playing (to name just a few of the possibilities).

Authentic Assessment

Assessment that evaluates a student’s mastery of knowledge and skills in terms of their ability to solve real and pressing problems or challenges. Examples for history courses include a background analysis, a material culture analysis, an op-ed, an oral history, a plan for a museum exhibition, a policy brief, or a policy history.

Backward Design

An instructional design approach that begins by identifying outcomes before devising lessons or activities to help students achieve those goals.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

A hierarchy of six levels of cognition—remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating—that moves from recall to synthesis and hypothesis generation.

Cognitive Load

Excessive or extraneous information that can make it difficult for students to process and assimilate information.

Competency-Based Education

An education approach that emphasizes demonstrated competency of essential knowledge and skills rather than seat time or accumulation of credit hours.

Constructivist Pedagogy

A teaching approach that rests on the principle that students learn most effectively when they engage in active inquiry, problem solving, and self-reflection.


The next iteration of the textbook, courseware includes multimedia-rich, immersive content, interactives, and simulations, as well as personalized, adaptive learning pathways and virtual tutorials powered by frequent, embedded formative assessments.


The integration of gaming elements such as points, levels, and celebrations of achievement into the learning experience.

Generation Effect

The principle that learning is enhanced when learners produce answers rather than simply recognizing them.


Grades can serve as a measure of a student’s level of understanding, the range of their work and sophistication of their ideas, their facility with various concepts and skills, the amount of work they have performed, and their intellectual growth. Grades can measure process (a student’s thought process or application of skills and knowledge); effort and engagement; or progress. Grades can also be informational, motivational, diagnostic, evaluative, metacognitive, formative, and summative. In addition, grades can be:

  • Holistic or targeted (based on discrete assignments).
  • Norm referenced or criterion referenced (that is, grading can be relative to their classmates or based on predetermined criteria).
  • Calculated based on subjective or objective criteria.
  • Innovative approaches to grading include:
  • Standards-based grading: whether students demonstrate proficiency on well-defined course objectives.
  • Achievement-based grading: how far students go beyond minimal expectations.
  • Mastery grading: where students retake assignments until they achieve an acceptable level of competence.
  • Specifications grading: evaluating students based on whether they meet a range of detailed expectations.
Growth Mindset

The belief that talents can be developed through study and practice, as opposed to a fixed mindset, which views talents as innate. Motivation is reduced if individuals attribute their failure to a lack of ability (rather than a lack of effort).

High-Impact Pedagogy

Practices associated with high levels of student engagement and learning, including challenge-, inquiry-, problem-, and team-based learning, learning communities, experiential learning opportunities (including internships, service learning, and study abroad), and capstone projects.

Learning Analytics

Fine-grained analysis of data on student engagement, persistence, pace, performance, interactions, and self-efficacy moves, which can be linked to student profile information (such as their high school rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and measures of grit) in order to guide advising and prompt timely interventions.

Learning Management System (LMS)

Serves as the interface between students and digital course materials. In addition to providing access to electronic assignments, instructional resources, notifications, a discussion board, and assessments, each in its own compartment or partition, it records enrollment, grades, and learning data. LMSs generally focus on a single course in isolation.

Learning Outcomes

Specific learning goals that can be demonstrated by students and assessed by instructors.

Learning Theories

Theories of how students learn have shifted from 19th-century faculty psychology, which likened the mind to a muscle and considered education a way to strengthen the intellect so that it could control the will and emotions, to a behaviorist paradigm, which emphasized the power of repetition and positive and negative reinforcement, social learning theory, which stressed the importance of observation, imitation, and modeling, and cognitivism, which shifted attention to the “mental maps” or schema that individuals acquire or create, and which are revised as learners acquires new information. Many ideas that are now commonplace were advanced by cognitivists.

  • Information that is relevant and meaningful is easier to remember than information that isn’t.
  • Practice or rehearsal makes it easier to retain an idea.
  • Prior knowledge or preconceptions can advance or hinder future learning.
  • Memory is improved when a learner categorizes ideas or concepts (for example, by using mnemonics).
  • Memory is context dependent, making it easier to remember an idea in a particular context than outside of that context.

Alternate forms of certification that do not require two or four years to vest. These include badges, certificates, specializations, and micromasters.


A massive open online course. Small private online course is abbreviated SPOC. A cMOOC consists of a community of learners who study a common topic or problem, while an xMOOC is a very large online course with a designated instructor.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Instructional content and tools that are available without charge or copyright restrictions.

Organization Effect

Outlining, integrating, and synthesizing information, which produces deeper and more durable learning than rereading or reviewing the materials.

Psycho-Social Dimensions of Learning

Of particular concern to feminist pedagogues, the conviction that learning is context sensitive, that classrooms are sites of power, privilege, and hierarchy, and that teaching is an inherently political act. Within the traditional classroom, certain ideas, perspectives, interpretive approaches, and forms of behavior, discourse, and argumentation are favored, leading some, if not many, students to feel marginalized.

Regulatory Fit

Students with a prevention focus are especially sensitive to negative outcomes, seek to avoid errors, and are driven by security concerns, while those with a promotion focus are more sensitive to positive outcomes. Learning is enhanced when there is regulatory fit.


The criteria by which a work will be evaluated.


Supporting a student’s learning just beyond the level the student could do alone.

Student Information System (SIS)

The system that handles admissions, registers students for courses, tracks student schedules, documents their grades, and maintains their transcripts.

Spaced Learning

Long-term retention of information is greater when it is spaced out over time rather than concentrated in a single class or study session.

Stereotype Threat

The fear that one’s behavior will confirm an existing stereotype of a group with which one identifies has a negative effect on student performance.

Student Swirl

The result of students attending multiple institutions and taking courses from different providers, sometimes even during the same semester.

Testing Effect

Frequent testing keeps students engaged in the material and contributes to long-term memory and the ability to retrieve and apply information.