Research Output

Contextualising higher education assessment task words with an ‘anti-glossary’ approach.

  Key ‘generic’ assessment task words such as ‘discuss’ and ‘critically evaluate’ are integral to higher education assessment. Although sources such as study skills guides give generic decontextualised glossaries of these words, much research rightly argues for greater dialogue between students (particularly ‘non-traditional’ students) and lecturers to help students understand and use such words. This paper presents the results from ‘staged’ focus groups with lecturers and students from the UK and China that created a forum for such dialogue, where many of these words and their interpretations were talked about. Results show very different interpretations, informed by factors such as ‘language’, ‘culture’ and ‘subject’. We propose these factors be used in an ‘anti-glossary’ approach, which we describe here. This approach is not against glossaries per se, but counteracts the assumption that glossary definitions are explicit, and adopts a social constructivist contextualisation of the task words through teacher-led dialogue.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2013

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Taylor & Francis

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Richards, K. & Pilcher, N. (2013). Contextualising higher education assessment task words with an ‘anti-glossary’ approach. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 27, 604-625. doi:10.1080/09518398.2013.805443. ISSN 0951-8398



Glossaries; ‘anti-glossary’; assessment task words; study skills; social constructivism;

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