Jargon…

Today, Mark, Richard and myself were reviewing the learning contracts produced by student researchers and relating them to the first module ‘intended learning outcomes’ and ‘assessment criteria’.

Not long into the activity we were sidetracked into a discussion about ‘jargon’ – in particular the two words synthesis and analysis.  We could just about agree that simplistically these two words amount to a process of ‘taking apart and identifying key components and relationships – and putting together to create new understanding’ although this is a gross over simplification.  I will let Richard and Mark discuss the finer points…

For me a key question is to what extent do we need to support your ability to use such terminology with confidence.  One way of looking at it is as jargon, another, and the one I subscribe too, is that it is a necessary part of your professional armory that will enable you to confidently express yourself in both  academic and practice-orientated contexts?

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5 responses to “Jargon…

  1. I agree about the armoury – one person’s jargon is another’s precision. The question is, are our researchers ready to climb the cliff-face of educational terminology? Are the benefits of speaking the lingo clear?

  2. For me, most definitely. I know I’m guilty of being far too casual in my ‘worklife’. That’s because the confidence isn’t there much of the time…there I am dealing with educators with exponentially greater experience and insight than I have, and with technical people that make my head spin (well…mindlessly nod at any rate).

    I do sometimes think that – especially in academia of course – some people just like to elongate absolutely everything though. I mean…why describe something short and sweet when you can flower it up and turn it into a project bid!?…I know, that cynicism is a killer also 😉

    So, yes…I think sometimes it is just jargon. Used to make the person look a bit more knowledgeable and thoughtful than they possibly are…but then how to be sure? Best way is to don it as armour myself and try to THINK a bit more about things, in a deeper way. That way I can be more comfortable when it comes to using the terminology how I wish – either as snappy, surface level jargon or something a bit further along…

    Now then….does any of that make sense I wonder…

  3. Nicely said guys , I think that if jargon is to be used there needs to be a common glossary of jargon or a reference point as people from different backgrounds use the same Jargon to describe different things for example ‘Networks’, ‘Web 2.0’
    The list is endless !!! – and coming from an IT background where anagrams and Jargon are the norm getting to grips with the rather non-defined jargon of the educational world is proving to be slightly confusing !!

    What does everyone else think ???

  4. Jargon or precision? It depends – jargon can sometimes be a shortcut to clear expression of ideas. I’ve just looked at a paper on the gap between students’ and lecturers’ understanding of assessment terminology – the most surprising issue for me was the difference between lecturers 🙂

    Williams, K. (2005). Lecturer and first year student (mis)understandings of assessment task verbs:’Mind the gap’. Teaching in Higher Education. 10 (2), 157-173.

  5. Interesting Shirley – of course that concern about differences, between learners, lecturers and externals, led Stephen, Ian and I to develop the patterns you see at inquirypatterns.wordpress.com

    Although it will be important to continue to create local consensus through language and definitions, we also need to recognise the challenge set by using specific terminology, especially when it is used differently elsewhere. In other words, language is a dynamic, cultural, many-headed beast!

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