The First Year Grad Student’s Dictionary of Educational Terms

Here is the current version of an online dictionary for first-year graduate students in education. It is developing continuously, since it is maintained on a wiki page that anyone can join in and make additions, revisions, or whatever.

A …

  • abstraction (n.): inability to see important details;
  • academia (n.): 1) asylum for nuts, 2) a community of socially dysfunctional people
  • Activity Theory (n.): a colorful combination of words and triangles
  • accountability (n.): the ability to do accounting
  • administrator (n., Rus.): In Russian, originally “minister of hell.”
  • advisor (n.): a person who primarily cares about graduate students (see caring and graduate students)
  • ANOVA (n.): the rejection of novas in the universe, including “supernova,” and “novacaine”
  • aggression (n.): grad student in 11th year of the program (cf. regression)
  • anthropologist (n.): a sociologist of exotics (see sociologist)
  • apprenticeship (n.): do not ask what your advisor can do for you, ask what you can do for your advisor (see graduate students aka second authors)
  • argument (n., v.): to fuck (as in “I don’t give an argument…”)
  • assessment (n.): the measurement of a student’s butt size — “She’s much better in her assessment this semester!” (see also statistics; effect size)
  • assistant (n., adj.): one who does whole work without any credit but with full responsibility for all mistakes, troubles, and mishaps (as in Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Assistant Professor)
  • Associate Professor (n.): a person mistaken for a professor
  • attachment (n.): unhealthy relation between a grad student and his/her advisor (see also regression)
  • authorship (n.): Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue (see first-author, graduate students aka second authors).

B …

  • behaviorism (n.): the study of how to “behave” during the mandatory colloquia, also “politeness” and “etiquette” (see also mandatory)
  • B.S. (n. adj.): BS (see M.S.)
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C …

  • caring (n., adj.): professors’ rationalization and justification of abuse of their students as in “it’s only because I care about you!” (see advisor and graduate students)
  • co-constructivism (n., v.): pooping on buildings (derives from Portuguese) ;
  • coding (v.): putting your research into a “code” so nobody but other professors can understand it, as in “Go code that study before some teacher gets ahold of it!”
  • cognitive (adj.): having to do with cogs or small machine parts
  • colloquium (n); colloquia (n.; pl.); ass abuse (see also caring; meeting; statistics)
  • conceptual framework (n.): the structure that holds up your conceptual tent, which you can crawl into to escape the real world
  • conditional reflex (n.): drooling in a student cafeteria (see unconditional reflex)
  • consensus (n.): agreement with the authority;
  • constructivism (n.): the love of construction, or buildings
  • correlate (v.): having extramarital “affairs” (a term coming from family psychology); “They’ve been correlating now for the last six months! That’s impossible! Someone should tell his wife!”
  • critical theory (n.): a very, very important theory, as in “Gravity is a critical theory!”
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D …

  • data (n.): a fictional account of mundane events (see data analysis)
  • data analysis (n.): preparing data for publication in peer-reviewed professional journal (see data)
  • dean (n., v.): See administrator.
  • decontextualization: A fancy word educators use for “junk” (“Please place the decontextualization in the trash can!”)
  • Dewey (v.aux., pron., colloq.): the beginning of an interrogative sentence in the first person plural, as in “Dewey really have to read this whole book?”
  • dialogue (n.): formally known as “stereo”
  • discourse (n., v.): 1) to make smooth, as in “Use that sandpaper to discourse this board”, 2) to lose one’s direction, 3) to fail a class.
  • dissertation (n., v.): 1) an unpleasant mishap in grad students (as in “dissertation happens”), 2) cruel and unusual punishment for grad students, 3) a state of mental constipation in grad students, 4) a long paper read by exactly four people
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E …

  • education (n., v.): extremely expensive piece of paper without much substance (as in “I got good education”)
  • effect size (n.): a term frequently encountered in spam literature to refer to “penis enlargement”
  • e-mail (n.): the opposite of female
  • empirical (adj.): having to do with “the Empire”, as in “Darth Vader was extremely empirical.”
  • empirical evidence (n.): a scientist’s way of saying “fuck you!”
  • enlightenment (n.): arsonist;
  • evaluation (n.): 1) counting money for lunch, 2) trying to find any value for staying another year in graduate program (see gradaute program)
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F …

  • faculty (n., Ir.): Originally in Irish, Fuckulty (see also meeting, advisor)
  • family commitment (n.): 1) distraction, 2) fake excuse, 3) laziness, 4) wrong priorities (cf. “caring”)
  • famous scholar (n.): a broadly known scholar in very narrow circles
  • feminist literature (n.): a term frequently encountered in spam literature to refer to a highly disputable argument that “the effect directly correlates to the size” (see effect size; correlation)
  • financial aid (n.): now we can eat! (see graduate students aka second authors)
  • first author (n.): see advisor (of course)
  • frame (n., v.): 1. something you put a picture in to show it off. 2. (also “to frame”) something you put an argument in, to show it off, as in “That argument was so good that I framed it!”
  • Full Professor (n.): derived from Irish “Fool Professor” as in “Professor full of…”
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G …

  • graduate students aka second-authors (n.; pl. only): students with standards who cannot graduate (as in “do you really think this is publishable material? In what journal do you think this is going to be published? (see advisor, undergraduate, caring). Formerly was referred to in the singular (now obsolete).
  • graduate program (n.): the process is more important than satisfaction
  • grant (n.): shopping for expensive gadgets
  • guidance (n.): A fancy word a professor uses for “read my mind!” (see caring, advisor, graduate student)
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H …

  • hemorrhoid (n.): another professional achievement of a scholar (see “scholar”, “sclerosis”, “colloquia”, “meeting” )
  • hermaphrodite (n.): the sexual orientation of grad students (it effectively focuses them on their work, apprenticeship, and studies)
  • high stakes testing (n.): can I get fries with that?! Supersize me!
  • hypothesis (n.): something one person makes up under influence of marijuana (see also “theory” and “law”)
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I …

  • inference (n.): the Canadian interpretation of the theories and teaching of Marquis de Sade (see statistics)
  • information processing (n.): delusional confusion of the mind with a computer;
  • identity (n.): the four last digits of one’s social security number
  • inquiry (n.): an objective reading of “The National Enquirer” (spelled with an “in-“ for copyright reasons)
  • international student (n., adj.): One who cannot speak English, even those who come from other so-called “English-speaking” countries (including Great Britain)
  • IQ (n.): penis size envy, criticized by feminist theory, as in “my IQ is 127 inches!” (see also effect size; feminist theory)
  • insight (n., v.): mental farting
  • irrationality (n.): seeing differences among things (see rationality)
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J …

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K …

  • kinesiology (n.): one theory for the widespread wearing of athletic clothing to research classes, wearing whistles and smelling bad
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L …

  • law (n.): something everybody makes up (see also “hypothesis” and “theory”)
  • learning (n.): A word used to justify financial aid and tuition expenses
  • lens (n.): the word smart people use when they mean “point of view”
  • lit review (n.): a preemptive strike of praising all of your possible reviewers (“As Bruner eloquently says…”)
  • logic (n.): to make one agree with you without use of violence
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M …

  • mandatory (n.): justification for professor’s teaching load (similar to “required”)
  • MANOVA (n.): a fancy word for “shit”
  • meeting (n.): see colloquia
  • modernism (n.): dislike of old things in favor of new ones (see also “post-modernism”)
  • monologic (adj.): 1) professor, like any boss, is always right, 2) speaking with graduate students in one word commands (e.g., “Work!” “Listen!” “Sit!” “Shut-up!”)
  • moral education (n.): an education that does not go out a party all night
  • motivation (n., colloq.): another term for “post-traumatic stress syndrome” (see also graduate students; caring)
  • M.S. (n.): a master of BS (see B.S.)
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N …

  • No Child Left Behind, NCLB (n.): a federal policy of saving money on education by punishing schools that poorly perform on state tests (it isn’t funny!)
  • nomonology (n.): the study of gnomes
  • normal distribution (n.): 1. the average IQ in society (see IQ); 2. the distribution of IQ among certain social groups (as in “I think Black people have bigger IQs!”); 3. getting an assistantship for graduate students
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O …

  • objectivity (n.): the state of being argumentative, or of objecting to everything; (2) a shrine where one worships objects (like nativity).
  • operationalize (v.): 1) what bad people do to perfect theories, 2) to cut alive body of a theory without anesthesia
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P …

  • p-value (n.): 1) another term used in statistics for IQ (as in, we’re not getting an adequate effect size from your p value); 2) random drugs testing for graduate students (as in just take this cup and p in it!); see also caring; advisor)
  • peer-review journal (n.): 1) “I’ll look the other way, if you look the other way!” (as in “publish or perish”), 2) “If I’m a reviewer, you’re the fool! If you’re the reviewer, I’m a fool!” (see lens, objectivity) , 3) Originally from Latin, “pee-review jounral”
  • pedagogy (n., v.): violent dislike of children (cf. pedophilia)
  • pedophilia (n., v.): violent love of children (cf. pedagogy)
  • Ph.D. (n., v., adj.): 1) abbreviation of “Piled higher and Deeper” (see also BS), 2) the day the caring ends (see advisor, graduate students, caring, mandatory) as in “He’s such a Ph.D. in my ass”)
  • phonics (n.): it is not how it sounds (as in “being phony”);
  • philosopher (n.): a psychologist without grant (see psychologist)
  • Piaget (n.): Piglet’s French cousin, as in “Piaget is my favorite character in ‘Winnie the Poux.’”
  • political correctness (PC, n.): the art of covering your dirty ass with soft words;
  • pop (n.): the accepted and proper term for “soft-drinks”, as in “I’m gonna go to the Pepsi machine and get a pop.” (see also “soda”)
  • positivism (n.): being happy (see also “post-positivism”)
  • post-constructivism (n.): the love of things constructed with posts, like fences
  • post-doc (n.): a doctor who lost his or her medical practice due to malpractice
  • post-modernism (n.): dislike of new things in favor of things that do not exist yet (see also “modernism”)
  • post-positivism (n.): the state of coming down after being happy (see also “positivism”)
  • Post Sabbatical Stress Disorder, PSSD (n.): depression associated with the end of sabbatical that usually lasts from the beginning of the sabbatical to 6 years after the sabbatical (see also “sabbatical” and “quality teaching”)
  • practice (n.): makes perfect
  • professional research productivity (n.): number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals (it’s not funny!)
  • professional service (n., v.): see “hemorrhoid” and “meeting”
  • program extension (n.): extra time gives you extra pleasure
  • psychologist (n.): a philosopher with grant (see philosopher)
  • public verification (n.): something that will get you arrested in conservative states like Indiana, as in “Cousin Earl went out drinkin’ and got thrown in jail for public verification again.”
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Q …

  • qualitative (adj.): really good, with lots of “quality”, as in “Why can’t anybody in this country make a qualitative car anymore?”
  • quality of teaching (n.): 1) high rating of professor’s teaching by students whom the professor failed in the course, 2) a course that has a high number of students failed, 3) establishment of successful professor-students sadomasochistic relations (see also “caring”)
  • quantitative (adj.): really big, with lots of “quantity”, as in “I want to do a quantitative dissertation, because it will be bigger.”
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R …

  • rationality (n.): not seeing differences among things (see irrationality)
  • realism (n.): the fear of imagination, goblins, and cartoons
  • reflective practitioner (n.): one who can skillfully make his or her career on mistakes of others
  • regression (n.): grad student in 10th year of the program (cf. aggression)
  • reliability (n.): ability to convincingly lie over-and-over again
  • relativity (n.): an unusual fondness for relatives, especially cousins, common in Arkansas, West Virginia, and southern Indiana (see relativism)
  • relativism (n.): incest (see relativity)
  • research (v.): to look again, something you do after you “search”, as in “I couldn’t find the dog, but mom told me to research so I’m going out again.”
  • research interest (n.): 1) an ability to satisfy one’s curiosity for taxpayers’ expense, 2) an area of particular dysfunctionality of the researcher (see academia)
  • research shows (n.): 1) wishful thinking, 2) wild guess
  • rigor (v.): I hardly even know her!
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S …

  • sabbatical (n.): a temprorary tenure (see tenure)
  • sample size (n.): the amount of free stuff you bag at the supermarket on the weekend
  • scholarly (adj).: a sexually transmitted disease, or something like that (as in “is it scholarly done work?” “I’m itching to finish this scholarly paper”)
  • science (n.): a galaxy far, far away, as in “may the force be with you!” (see empirical, empirical evidence)
  • sclerosis (n.): professional academic development (as in “Do you remember… — Of course, not!”)
  • serendipity (n.): the beginning of a well-known Disney song, as in “serendipity-do-dah” (the “seren-” is often left out because children have trouble pronouncing it)
  • sexual harassment (n.): distracting a professor from his important business (see situated cognition)
  • situated cognition (n.): thinking while on a toilet
  • social-constructivism (n.): a type of neurosis — the need to talk with buildings
  • sociocultural (adj.): a well-established practice of finding free food at professional conferences
  • sociocultural theory (n.): the more boring is the party, the more and better food it has
  • soda (n.) (slang): a word made up by grad students from the eastern U.S. to make them feel special (see also “pop”)
  • sociologist (n.): an anthropologist of everyday boring stuff (see anthropologist)
  • statistics (n., French): the theories and teaching of Marquis de Sade (literally from French: “pain in the ass”).
  • subjectivity (n.): obsession with “subjects”—subjective people can start sentences, but can never finish them
  • syllabus (n.): another term for a professor (from the Latin for “silly boss”)
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T …

  • theory (n.): something multiple people make up (see also “hypothesis” and “law”)
  • TOEFL (n.): “Test of Education as a Foreign Language”, a test given to normal people to see if they can have a conversation with a grad student or professor in Education (see also “coding”)
  • tenure (n., Latin): time to stop working
  • tenure-track (n.): 1) postponed gratification (see “tenure”), 2) a deeper kind of manure-tracks usually followed by old trotters in the field, as in “she has fell into a deep tenure-track.”
  • theoretical framework (n.): 1) a form of mental illness, aka paranoid schizotheoreticus; defined as the mental patient’s propensity to construct rules, via a delusional mental picture, of how the world operates, 2) daydreaming about framing pictures your bought long time ago that you are keeping unframed in your house for years during important professional meetings (see also “colloquia” and “meeting”). Related concepts: theoretical housework, theoretical relationships (see hermaphrodite).
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U …

  • unconditional reflex (n.): being permanently disgusted with academia (cf. conditional reflex)
  • undergraduate (adj.): Below any standard (example, “this is such undergraduate work”); (n., colloq): may also have the connotation of “soiled” (as in underpants)

V …

  • values education (n.): like math, but with a greater focus on prices
  • Vygotsky (n.): 1) Bless you! 2) Translated from Russian it means, “We got skis!” (Vy-got-ski) Related Russian terms include, Ugotsky and Igotsky, which roughly translate as,” You got skis!” and “I got skiis!” Terms normally used by skiing fanatic undergrads, as grad students are normally no longer funded by parents for weekend sojourns.

W …

  • Whole Language (n.): the use of complete sentences (not practiced by people with “subjectivity” or by people using PowerPoint) 

X …

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Y …

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Z …

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One Comment

  1. M. Lee
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    You might want to approach the problem of sabbaticals and tenure a little more realistically and, dare I say it, a little more sensitively. Instead of feeding the stereotypes in the popular imagination about Tenure and Sabbaticals as meaningless and gratuitous wastes of time, maybe you could look up the published research on the topic and discover that most tenured professors continue to work damn hard after achieving tenure, much, much harder than they ever did as grad students. Sabbaticals are often gruelling and lonely. Some of you have and are writing dissertations, right? Do you appreciate your non-grad school friends telling you that writing a dissertation is a cushy life? Well, a sabbatical is a lot like that except usually with a total lack of support, community, friends in the same boat etc. and a much higher standard of quality expected. The project has to be published to have been considered worthwhile and to make you eligible to reapply for another research leave in 7 years. Every professor I know was actually miserable on sabbatical, because the work is hard, much harder than teaching, and the rewards minimal, much fewer than teaching. Some institutions have wisely changed the word “sabbatical” (a year of rest) to “research leave” — a far more accurate description of an academic sabbatical.


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