Learning, Training, and Human Performance Glossary

Words beginning with the letter “P” are listed below. For words starting with a different letter, use the below table:

S T U V W X Y Z Acronyms

participative design

A process that refers to all the participation of all the functional areas of the organization in the training design activity. The intent is to enhance the design with the input of all the key stakeholders. Such a process should ensure that the final outcome of the design meets the needs of the stakeholders. For a related process, see Planning in Agile Learning Design.

passive learning

Learning where no feedback is provided to a user's response.

pedagogy (pèd-e-go´jê)

Literally means the art and science of educating children, pedagogy is often used as a synonym for teaching. Pedagogy embodies teacher-focused education.

perceptual modality

Learning style that refers to the primary way our bodies take in and perceive information; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile (VAK).


The accomplishment of a task in accordance with a set standard of completeness and accuracy.

performance aid (job aid)

A device designed for use on the job and providing guidance on the performance of a specific task or skill. May be printed or on-line. Used in situations where it is not feasible or worthwhile to commit the procedure to memory before on-the-job activity. Often these are paper-based and posted on the wall in plain sight or in a small reference notebook. Performance aids may also be decals, manuals, cards, etc.

performance analysis

The process by which professionals partner with clients to identify and respond to opportunities and problems, and through study of individuals and the organization, to determine an appropriate cross-functional solution system. Performance analysis is a systematic and systemic approach to engaging with the client. It is the process by which we determine when and how to use education and information resources.

performance-based instruction

Instruction that develops the performance proficiency of a learner via task-based learning objectives written with an action verb. Learners prove competency by actual performance of the objectives to the established standards.

performance criteria/standard

Part of a learning objective that describes the observable learner behavior (or the product of that behavior) that is acceptable as proof that learning has occurred.

performance deficiency

The inability of a team or individual to perform the required tasks to the established standard. The space between the actual performance and the desired (established) performance is also known as the performance gap.

performance gap

The space between the desired and actual performance. This space or gap is the performance deficiency that currently exists.

performance improvement

A systematic process of discovering and analyzing human performance improvement gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically-justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluating the financial and nonfinancial results.

performance measures

The actions that can be objectively observed and measured to determine if a task performer has performed the task to the prescribed standard.

performance objective

A statement of the conditions, learner's behavior (action), and standard. A criterion for prescribing the desired learner performance. This is a generic term and may be either a criterion objective or an enabling objective.

performance technology

Technologies designed to enhance human performance and capabilities in the workplace. Also referred to as human performance technology, it is a systematic process of integrating practices from a vast breadth of fields such as instructional technology, organizational development, motivation, feedback, human factors, and employee selection. Note: We often think of technology as computers, electronics, etc., but it is much more. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technology as the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area. It includes the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, processes, and methods of organization

personalized system of instruction (PSI) (Keller plan)

A teaching technique that involves dividing course material into segments, evaluating learner performance on each segment for subject mastery, and allowing learners to move from segment to segment at their own pace.


The total time involved in training personnel once they are designated as students. This includes time traveling to the training activity, time awaiting instruction, time of actual training, time from termination of training until reporting back to the workplace; it may include more than one training activity.


Normally, the syndicated distribution of audio files, but may also include any media, such as video and written materials. In learning, podcasts are a useful way of distributing formal and informal content.

practical exercise

A technique used during a training session that permits students to acquire and practice the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to successfully perform one or more training objectives. Often called learning activities.


Repeated and systematic performance to gain proficiency using the psychomotor, cognitive, and affective skills, acquired in the training phase. Initial practice occurs while the student is acquiring skills; proficiency practice occurs at intervals after training so that the skills may be refreshed. Practice enables the student to perform the job proficiently. The goal of practice is to gain experience.

practice effect

The influence of previous experience in taking a test for the second time or more. Familiarity with directions, types of items, and questions when taking a test again usually helps the examinee to score higher. Practice effect is greatest when it is spaced and transfers different experiences.

procedural knowledge

Informs us how to perform a given task, rather than knowing about (see declarative knowledge). Procedural knowledge contains the discrete steps or actions to be taken and the available alternatives to perform a given task. With practice, procedural knowledge can become an automatic process, thus allowing us to perform a task without conscious awareness.


Ability to perform a specific behavior (e.g., task, learning objective) to the established performance standard in order to demonstrate mastery of the behavior.

proficiency training

Training conducted to improve or maintain the capability of individuals and teams to perform in a specified manner. Training to develop and maintain a given level of skill in the individual or team performance of a particular task.

programmed learning

A procedure that provides information to the learner in small steps, guarantees immediate feedback concerning whether or not the material was learned properly and allows the learner the pace with which she can go through the material.


A word or signal that initiates or guides behavior; a cue.


A model of a product. Prototypes can be working or non-working; in addition, they may be a sketch on a piece of paper. The product used in an iterative process.

psychomotor domain

Involves physical movement and coordination. The Taxonomies major categories in order of ascending difficulty are:
  • Imitation: Observes skill and tries to repeat it.
  • Manipulation: Performs skill according to instruction rather than observation.
  • Precision: Reproduces a skill with accuracy, proportion and exactness. Usually performed independent of original source.
  • Articulation: Combines one or more skills in sequence with harmony and consistency.
  • Naturalization: Completes one or more skills with ease and becomes automatic.
S T U V W X Y Z Acronyms