Learning, Training, and Human Performance Glossary

Words beginning with the letter “A” are listed below. For words starting with a different letter, use the below table:

S T U V W X Y Z Acronyms


The capacity to perform an act, either innate or as the result of learning and practice. See, What Does the "A" in KSA Really Mean?

ability grouping

Arrangement whereby students are assigned to groups on the basis of aptitude testing.

accelerated learning

Combining adult learning theory and whole brain learning theory in the learning environment to achieve a faster learning rate. Most practices are based on the work of Dr Georgi Lozanov at the University of Sophia in Bulgaria in the 1950s and 1960s. See, suggestopedia.


The degree of freedom from error or the degree of conformity to a standard.


A measurement of what a person knows or can do after a learning episode or training.

action learning

This is a continuous process of learning and reflection with the intention of getting something done. Learning is centered around the need to find a solution to a real problem. Most action learning programs take from four to nine months to complete. Learning is voluntary and learner driven, while individual development is as important as finding the solution to the problem. Reg Ravens, the originator of "action learning" basis this learning method on a theory called "System Beta." The whole idea is that the learning process should closely approximate the "scientific method." The real model is cyclical (you proceed through the steps and when you reach the last step (6) you relate the analysis to the original hypothesis and if need be, start the process again. The six steps are:
  1. Formulate Hypothesis (an idea or concept)
  2. Design Experiment (consider ways of testing truth or validity of idea or concept)
  3. Apply in Practice (put into effect, test of validity or truth)
  4. Observe Results (collect and process data on outcomes of test)
  5. Analyze Results (make sense of data)
  6. Compare Analysis (relate analysis to original hypothesis)

action verb

A word that conveys action/behaviors and reflects the type of performance that is to occur (i.e., place, cut, drive, open, hold). Action verbs reflect behaviors that are measurable, observable, verifiable, and reliable. See, Learning Objectives.

active learning

A process of learning new ideas, skills and attitudes through what we do at work or in other behavioral situations. It is about learning from doing, performing, and taking action. The action can be either mental (e.g. reflection) or physical (e.g. case study). It uses such devices as games, simulations, introspection, role playing, etc. See, Active Learning.

action maze

A case study which has been programmed. Learners receive enough information to take them to their first decision point. The decision then takes them to the next frame, which explains the consequence of their decision. This process is continued until the maze has been completed.

activity step

The step of learner activity based on the enabling objective. In achieving the activity, the learner is carried through the teaching points and the teaching steps. See, Learning Steps.


Information about the current skills, knowledge, perspectives and environment of individuals in an organization. Specifics about what people perform in the present time.

adaptive branching (adjustive device)

Any of several techniques used in scheduling to accommodate individual differences. It may permit the student to bypass material they already know or may provide them with additional instruction as needed. See Branching Scenarios.

adjunct program

A type of instructional device that applies programming principles to existing course materials, texts, manuals, etc. Learners are directed to specific areas within these materials that support course objectives; then directed to respond and given confirmation until they have progressed through the material and have accomplished predetermined objectives.

ADDIE model

Consider my most to be the "classic" model of ISD (Instructional System Design). The acronym stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

affective domain

A classification of objectives that focus on the development of attitudes, beliefs, and values. Affective learning is about gaining new perceptions (e.g., self-confidence, responsibility, respect, dependability, and personal relations).
  • Receiving: Aware of, passively attending to certain stimuli.
  • Responding: Complies to given expectations by reacting to stimuli.
  • Valuing: Displays behavior consistent with single belief or attitude in situations where not forced to obey.
  • Organizing: Committed to a set of values as displayed by behavior.
  • Characterizing: Total behavior consistent with internalized values.


Provides a clue to the function of an object. J.J. Gibson, a psychologist, coined the word to refer to the actionable properties between the world and a receiver (such as a person or animal). In Instructional Design, affordance means the designer creates a tool, such as an object or content, in which the user can perceive that some action is possible, or in the case of perceived non-affordances, not possible.


A cognitive process in which an example or schema is used to map a new solution for a similar problem.

analysis phase

First phase of Instructional System Design (ADDIE). The purpose of this phase is to determine what the job holder must know or do on the job and to determine training needs. Also see front-end analysis.


From the Greek words "anere", for adult and "agogus", the art and science of helping students learn. Widely used by adult educators to describe the theory of adult learning. The term offers an alternative to pedagogy. The andragogic model asks that five issues be considered and addressed in formal learning:
  • Letting learners know why something is important to learn - The need to know.
  • Showing learners how to direct themselves through information - The need to be self directing.
  • Relating the topic to the learner's experiences - Greater volume and quality of experience.
  • People will not learn until ready and motivated to learn - Readiness to learn.
  • A need to have a life centered, task centered, or problem centered orientation - Often this requires helping them overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning.


The ability of an individual to acquire a new skill or show the potential for acquiring a skill when given the opportunity and proper training.

ARCS Model

John Keller developed a four-step instructional design process to help instill learner motivation - Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction.


Essentially a measurement process of the learning that has either taken place or can take place. Usually measured against stated learning outcomes:
  • Predictive assessment attempts to measure what the learner might achieve given suitable training.<
  • Attainment assessment attempts to measure what the learner knows or can do, and is usually related to the syllabus of a course the learner has followed.

asynchronous learning

The student's learning takes place on their own time, thus it does not include real-time instructor guidance. This differs from synchronous, which places the learners and instructors in the same time, although they may be in different places, such as face-to-face learning or virtual learning.


A persisting feeling or emotion of a person that influences choice of action and response to stimulus. Defined as a disposition or tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain thing (idea, object, person, situation). Attitudes encompass, or are closely related to, opinions and beliefs and are based upon our experiences. Training that produces tangible results starts by changing behavior that ultimately changes attitudes. The term attitude is also known as the affective domain.


A structured approach to developing all elements of a unit of instruction. Authoring is mostly performed in the Development phase of ADDIE (ISD).

authoring tool

Software application used to produce media-based learning content. Some of the more popular ones include PowerPoint, Captivate, DreamWeaver, and Articulate.
S T U V W X Y Z Acronyms