AO Glossary of Educational Terms

  • Assessment

    Assessment is the process of understanding the state or condition of a thing or process, by observation and measurement. “Formative” assessment is measurement for the purpose of improvement. “Summative” assessment is measurement for the purpose of grading or licensing. Assessment refers to the individual while evaluation refers to a program, course or institution.

  • Asset / educational asset

    A resource in the form of media or documents that can be applied as a learning aid, teaching tool, reference, assessment instrument, etc. The term "asset" implies that these resources represent value to the organization which benefits from it, and/or allows it to reach its goals.

  • Attitude

    A settled way of thinking or feeling about something. Attitudes are complex mental dispositions that are thought to influence the way in which individual's process information and to motivate behavior. Attitudes can be inferred by observing an individual's response to a situation but cannot be directly measured. Responses can be behavioral (actions, intentions to act; cognitive (thoughts, opinions), and affective (feelings, emotions and autonomic nervous system activity)

  • Backward planning

    A process for developing competency-based education that responds to and impacts patient health. Subject matter experts (SMEs) consider a) the patient problems addressed by the target audience, and b) the performance that these problems demand of the surgeon. Out of this, the essential competencies (abilities) are generated. Based on these competencies, a given educational activity is developed, which in turn addresses learning objectives derived from the competencies. These educational outcomes are targeted to directly impact corresponding clinical performance and so improve patient health.

  • Blended learning

    An educational program that uses a variety of instructional formats. Blended learning usually refers to a mix of online activities, simulations, and face-to-face events. Sometimes it is also called hybrid learning.

  • Certification

    A process indicating that an individual or institution has met predetermined standards. Individuals are certified or licensed while institutions or programs are accredited.

  • Competency

    An ability of a health professional to perform in a way that leads to appropriate patient care outcomes. A competency is a unique combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes that result in successful performance.

  • Competency-based curriculum

    A curriculum that has been developed using backward planning to identify competencies. Within the AO, a competency-based curriculum meets all defined quality and implementation criteria.

  • Continuity, Sequence, Integration (CSI)

    Dividing, grouping, and sequencing of content and activities within a program. Continuity provides learners the opportunity to revisit knowledge and skills in increasing depth as they progress through an educational activity. Sequence in an educational plan focuses on the order in which things occur: simple to complex learning, known to unknown. Integration is concerned with linkages of information enabling learners develop a holistic overview.

  • Core content

    Educational activities or objectives which must be included or addressed (as opposed to optional content).

  • Curriculum

    A statement of the intended aims and objectives, content, experiences, outcomes and processes of an education program, including a description of the target audience, (modular) structure, instructional methods, as well as assessment strategies. The curriculum sets out the competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors) the learner will achieve. It further specifies the ways in which it is delivered, implemented and evaluated.

  • Educational method

    Educational method comprises the principles and methods used for instruction to be implemented by teachers to achieve the desired learning in students. These strategies are determined partly on subject matter to be taught and partly by the nature of the learner.

  • Evaluation

    A process of observing and measuring for the purpose of judging and of determining “value,” either by comparison to a benchmark or standard.

  • Faculty Syllabus

    A detailed document for faculty (and chairpersons), structured according to the educational activities that specifies broad objectives/goals, provides overview of (modular) structure including blended components, then for each activity learning objectives, instructional methods, available materials, resources, and teaching points.

  • Gap

    The difference between what is and what should be, between an actual state (what is) and a desired state (what should be).

  • Learning objective

    A statement describing what the learner will be able to know or do after taking part in an educational activity. Objectives are concrete, domainspecific and measurable. They describe the outcome in the learner, e.g. “After participation in this course, the learner will be able to define educational terms and their use within AO”.

  • Level of outcomes

    In medical education, outcomes measurement is an important component. Moore et al outlined a 7-level approach: 1. Participation, 2. Satisfaction, 3. Learning (3A = Declarative knowledge, 3B = Procedural knowledge, 4. Competence, 5. Performance, 6. Patient health, 7. Community Health

  • Lifelong learning

    Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of competence for either personal or professional reasons.

  • Metric

    A standard of measurement of quantitative assessments used for objective evaluation (to make comparisons or to track performance). In proficiency-based education, they are operational definitions characterizing a procedure.

  • Needs assessment

    A process that relies on data collection, collaboration, and negotiation to identify gaps in understanding and performance and to determine future actions.

  • Target audience

    Individuals or group of individuals with similar educational needs.