The language used to describe best practices in education can become quickly unclear and confusing. The following lexicon provides a prelimianry set of definitions to make the conversation more clear.
Best education practice: Refers to the wide range of individual activities, policies, and programmatic approaches to achieving positive changes in student attitudes or academic behaviors.
Promising education practice: An education practice that appears to result in positive outcomes for students. The practice is clearly defined and preliminary analysis suggests its usefulness, but has not undergone rigorous evaluation.
Validated education practice: A promising education practice that has been undergone rigorous evaluation and found to result in positive outcomes for students in one education setting. The evaluation design could be quasi-experimental quantitative, qualitative, or mixed design.
Exemplary education practice: A validated education practice that has been successfully replicated at other education settings and undergone rigorous evaluation and found to result in positive outcomes for students. The evaluation design could be quasi-experimental quantitative, qualitative, or mixed design.
Within these aforementioned practices, there are different levels of complexity. Some practices are small, discrete activities or policy decisions. Other practices are programmatic approaches. The following definitions differentiate these levels.
Best education practice activities: These activities are behaviors or policies by faculty, staff, and administrators that result in positive changes in student attitudes or academic behaviors. Examples include mandatory assessment of students for proper advisement and placement of students in their classes, training student tutors before they begin their work, active learning activities within the classroom, and classroom assessment techniques to provide nongraded feedback resulting in changed student learning behaviors.
Best education practice programs: These programs are composed of a carefully coordinated collection of individual best practice activities. Examples of exemplary education practice programs from the area of academic support includes Supplemental Instruction, Peer-led Team Learning, Emerging Scholars Program, and Structured Learning Assistance. For example, the Supplemental Instruction program is composed of many validated best education practice activities such as active learning, classroom assessment techniques, cooperative learning activities, and Universal Instructional Design, just to name a few.