Glossary of Training Terms

This glossary provides a series of definitions and explanations to support the ICTI virtual learning environment.

Definitions may change by consensus as time goes on.

It is managed by the facilitators of the Africa Media Trainers' Network and ICTI Administrators.

We welcome suggestions for changes and additions.
Browse the glossary using this index

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the method and practice of teaching adults. Term popularised by Malcolm Knowles (1980, The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy) to distinguish between theories developed regarding teaching children and adults

see also pedagogy

appreciative inquiry

Appreciative inquiry (AI) involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question†often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul-- and visions of valued and possible futures.

(credit AI Commons)


There is always a need to facilitate the development of trainers at all levels. There will be times when an individual trainer who has yet to achieve the relevant experience, recognition and qualification may still be invited to deliver training under the guidance of a qualified trainer. This apprentice work is always appropriate when the individual trainer can develop their skills.


see the entry on evaluation



see entry on mentor


The definition of particular knowledge, skills or attitude needed for an individual to undertake particular business activities. Commonly used in the development of vocational qualifications or work-based learning activities. Competences are generally very specifically defined (SMART) so that they can be measured.

Sometimes referred to as competency.


a philosophical system recognizing that meaning and understanding are constructed by the person observing or participating in their study/research.

critical incident

A critical incident is an idea developed in the field of reflective practice. It is an incident or event in a professional person's life which is significant and upon which the practitioner then reflects.

See reflective practice



the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.


Evaluation and assessment are very close to each other. However evaluation has more to do with the process of learning (how people feel about methods, did a session meet their needs, have the learning outcomes for the session been achieved in general terms etc) and assessment has more to do with measuring a specific outcome (what people have learnt and are able to do, can they recall information, can they individually achieve the learning outcomes).

Most evaluations will include some element of assessment.


instructional system design

Instructional System Design (ISD) is concerned with the identification of training requirements based on the analysis of job performance requirements data obtained from experts in the job to be performed. Training objectives are formulated as a result of the job analysis process and tests are developed to be used to assess the learner's progress toward meeting the training objectives. ISD or SAT also attempts to bring structure to the instructional design process when determining the optimal instructional strategies, instructional sequencing, and instructional delivery media for the types of training objectives involved.

ISD is often called SAT (System Approach to Training) or ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate). A useful website is - at the time of writing (16 Oct 2006)




Those currently new to the field and just discovering their own skills. Not recognised as a trainer.

level 3

Level in the UK National Qualifications Framework. A trainer holding a level 3 training qualification is recognised by ICTI as a competent craft skills trainer. A trainer holding a level 4 training qualification is considered by ICTI competent to train trainers.

Level 3 is roughly equivalent to the English 'A' level examination or a high school diploma.

Level 4 is roughly equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate course of study.

Level 7 equates to a Master's degree (QAA M/4 level)

Level 8 equates to a Doctorate (QAA D/5 level)

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has a similar framework for higher education alone. These levels are identical but use different labels. (eg: NQF level 7 = QAA level 4 or M level).



A mentee is an individual who is being mentored by a senior or more experienced colleague.

See entry on mentor


A mentor is generally an experienced (often senior) practitioner who enters into a formal agreement with a less experienced colleague (mentee) with a view to encouraging and directing their professional development.

The mentor and mentee will typically have an agreement on their working relationship and this will often extend for an extended period of time.

The role of mentor is similar to, but should not be confused, with that of coach. A coaching relationship is often less formal, exists for a specific task and focused on developing a specific skill, developing particular knowledge or working through a defined attitude change.



the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being



the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.

see also andragogy


a philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and therefore rejecting metaphysics and theism.

This is the common approach used in much academic research.

See also constructivism.


Those who have moved beyond their own initial development and are putting their skills into independent practice. Not recognised as a trainer by ATM.



We draw a distinction between Training Qualifications and educational qualifications. A trainer may hold a doctoral qualification (Level 8 or D level) but that may not be a qualification that equips them to train. Equally they may hold a qualification as, for example, a radio producer but not be able to demonstrate an ability to train.



This concept is an essential element in our thinking. We do not intend to exclude competent trainers simply because they have not been able to attain certain formal qualifications. A recognised trainer is simply one that is accepted as competent based on the work they are doing and the outcomes they achieve in that training activity. Where a trainer is not known, the educational qualifications detailed provide a means of evaluating their competence in training others.

Trainers whose skills are recognised are considered competent to train crafts skills.

In Training of Trainers, ICTI is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the content and quality of training and therefore, recognises trainers at this level.


reflective practice

Reflective practice has become a popular and key theme in education and professional learning. Key ideas in the field were developed by Dewey (How We Think 1910; 1933). His thinking still runs through the work of key writers such as David Boud et al (1985) and Donald Schön (1983; 1987).

Schön has been particularly influential developing his ideas of reflection on action (taking time to reflect about critical incidents in a professional person's practice after the event) and reflection in action (reflection undertaken whilst the incident is occurring).

See also critical incident



We make a distinction between training skills, whether obtained formally or informally, and craft skills.

In training skills we are concerned with the trainer's ability to train, their understanding of how adults learn and their commitment to collaborative learning.

In craft skills we are concerned with their ability to do the task that their training is tackling. Eg: A journalist trains others in journalism (craft skills) using their abilities as a trainer (training skills).


SMART - acronym often used by trainers to describe the nature of objectives S=Specific
T=Time Defined

subject matter expert

The concept of a Subject Matter Expert (SME) is well known in training and education.

It is generally recognised that a trainer/educator may be competent to train ie knows the necessary skills and has the ability to deliver training in competent/professional manner.  That same trainer may not have the necessary knwoledge in the subject to effectively facilitate learning in the specific field.

A subject matter expert is just that. Jim Fraser of Fraser Associates has suggested that there are additional degrees of expertise and has offered the definitions of "Subject matter resources (SMR's); subject matter experts (SME's) and subject matter masters. Someone could be one of the above in training, in a specialized content area or both. The highest order of our tradecraft isn't in our ability to do it, it is in the ability to teach others to do properly."



Unrecognised training skills are held by those practitioners who have begun to quietly pass their skills onto others and who have no formal training qualification. They are not recognised as competent trainers.

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