Action script: We define an action script, by contrast to scripted user guidance, as a set of instructions that prescribe a “chunk” of activities—be it individual or group activities. These instructions are designed to support students to achieve a certain sub-goal within a project. This chunk of activities is not determined in detail. Students are free to determine and perform activities within such a chunk as they see fit.

Argument: A premise-conclusion sequence (or: reason-conclusion) so that either one or more premises are intended to support a conclusion or a conclusion is intended to be justified by one or more premises. An argument can also be a connection of several of those premise-conclusion sequences if premises are justified by further premises, and so on. Arguments are used to justify proposals.

Go to top


BATNA: Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. A stakeholder’s BATNA determines this stakeholder’s cost-benefit calculation based on which a decision about participating in negotiations is made. Since there are costs connected to participation (especially when negotiations drag forever), every stakeholder is expected to participate only as long as the net-benefit of participation is higher than the net-benefit of the BATNA. Therefore, a group that is interested to keep all stakeholders on board should, first, always consider the BATNA for each stakeholder and second, provide incentives for those stakeholders who are perceived as being at risk of dropping out.

Go to top


Caucus: Within the U.S. House of Representatives, a caucus is a group that helps to focus the interests of representatives from different parties and states.Caucuses include the Alzheimer’s Task Force, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Women’s Caucus, the House Army Caucus, and the Water Infrastructure Caucus.

Co-dependent reasons: See

Component: See Proposal component.

Framing: The term framing is widely used in research on conflicts. Framing describes one of two processes, or both: Determining the boundary around the problem in a specific way, that is, distinguishing the problem from its context by drawing a particular line, and describing what is inside of this boundary by specific concepts, images, metaphors, theories, descriptive, explanatory models, and so on. Ways of framing may depend on varying interests, needs, world-views, values, or differences regarding the scale or level on which people think the problem should be addressed. See Hoffmann 2011.

Go to top


Generic work plan: A general type of work plan that represents a specific project type. By selecting phases and modules from a generic work plan a specific work plan instantiation for a particular project can be created.

Interests: Needs, desires, and goals that people have in regard to a given situation. Interests can be seen as criteria that need to be met in order to solve the problem in a way that people support.

Interest map: A two-dimensional visualization that represents all the interest of stakeholders that have been identified in a stakeholder analysis. Clicking on an interest opens up a list of all those stakeholders to whom this interest is assigned.

Justification: (in the context of Reflect!) An argument whose conclusion is a proposal.

Go to top


Knowledge base: A database with references to publications.

LAM: Logical Argument Mapping.

Logical Argument Mapping (LAM): A graphical representation of arguments in which all arguments are represented in a form that is deductively valid. An argument is deductively or logically valid if and only if it follows an argument scheme that is logically valid. An argument scheme is logically valid if and only if it is impossible for any argument following this scheme to have true premises and a false conclusion. LAM is realized in AGORA-net ( AGORA allows the construction of arguments with four logically valid argument schemes: modus ponens, modus tollens, disjunctive syllogism, and not-all syllogism.

Module: The second-level unit in a Reflect! work plan after a phase. Each phase contains one or more Modules. A module contains one or more module steps. Modules can be selected to create a work plan instantiation.

Module step: The lowest-level unit in a work plan. It describes a specific task that needs to be accomplished within a module. The way to realize a module step is described by a script. Module steps in a module cannot be separated in a work plan instantiation.

Go to top


Orchestration: The management and alignment of sequences of learning activities (as described in scripts) that learners perform individually, in teams, and with the whole class (Dillenbourg 2015).

Phase: The highest-level unit in a Reflect! work plan. A work plan lists phases in chronological order. Each phase contains one or more modules.

Project type: A specific set of phases and modules that define a specific generic work plan. Each generic work plan represents a specific project type. By selecting phases and modules from a generic work plan a work plan instantiation can be created. The Reflect! platform provides work plans for the following project types:

  • Reflective Consensus Building on Wicked Problems in Education, student version
  • Reflective Consensus Building on Wicked Problems in Education, instructor version
  • Stakeholder Deliberation
  • Stakeholder Deliberation Support Team
  • 3-hour workshop on reflective consensus building

Proposal: A statement that describes what should be done to solve a wicked problem. The proposal describes a specific action or set of actions that a specific stakeholder might put forward in response to a wicked problem. Do not confuse proposals with an interest or need a stakeholder might have, or with values on which they base their proposals. A proposal does not say what somebody wants or values. Instead, it proposes what should be done to achieve what they want or value. Thus, a proposal focuses on actions, policies, laws, or regulations. At the end, an acceptable proposal will be a complex statement that includes many different proposal components (for example a variety of actions, each of which satisfies a certain stakeholder, or conditions under which a certain actions should be done, etc.). To be clear, you might begin every formulation of a proposal with “We should …” — A stakeholder might suggest several proposals, for example one that represents their primary interests and another one that might serve as a possible compromise position, or one proposal for one component of a wicked problem and another one for another component. Each proposal, however, represents a comprehensive and internally consistent set of proposed activities, policies, laws, or regulations. Stakeholders have a stance on each other’s proposals. Proposals need to be distinguished from symphysis proposals.

Proposal component: Each action item of a proposal is a proposal component, but also specific conditions under which an action, policy, law, or regulation should be enacted. A proposal might list several actions that satisfy specific stakeholder needs. In the symphysis proposal, all stakeholders need to accept each component. Here is an example of how to divide a symphysis proposal into its components.

Proposal map: A two-dimensional visualization which represents all proposals put forward to solve a wicked problem. By clicking on a particular proposal a spider graph pops up which shows the proposal in the middle and all the stakeholders arranged in a circle around the proposal. The distance of a stakeholder to the proposal indicates how much this stakeholder favors or disfavors the proposal. Both the locations of proposals on the map and the shape of the spider graph is determined by the stakeholder weights. Proposals that got similar weights by the stakeholders are grouped together.

Go to top


RCB: Reflective consensus building.

Reflective Consensus Building (RCB): Both the process of developing a symphysis proposal in teams and the strategy to approach wicked problems that is implemented in the user interface of the Reflect! Platform. A similar method is “participatory modeling”.

Go to top


Script: A specified set of activities which is either defined by scripted user guidance or by an action script.

Scripted user guidance: A sequence of individual user activities that is prompted, step by step, by the software. The user needs to complete the steps one-by-one. Scripted user guidance might offer choices, but each choice leads again to pre-determined steps so that the user’s freedom is heavily constrained. Scripted user guidance is distinguished from action scripts. Scripted user guidance can help to optimally distribute intrinsic cognitive load by structuring procedures (Catrambone 2011).

Stake: The “interest” that a stakeholder has in an issue, the “worth” or significance that the issue has for the stakeholder.

Stakeholder: Anybody who has or should have a direct interest in the outcome of a decision and who either affects or is affected by this decision. The last half of this definition goes back to the one provided by Richard Freeman in his now classic book Strategic management. A stakeholder approach: “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives” (Freeman 1984, p. 46). However, the first half of the definition suggested above should be added to that. The reason is: Decisions are often made by actors who only have an indirect interest in their outcome, for example politicians who want to be re-elected or experts who fear legal repercussions. In both cases, the indirect interest is mediated by someone else’s interest. If people get harmed by a decision, they might sue the expert or vote for another politician. However, this means that it is sufficient to take only those that are directly affected as stakeholders into account; only those who have a direct “stake” in all this. Stakeholders can be identified by the interests, values, or goals that motivate them.

Stakeholder analysis: The process through which stakeholders are identified, together with a list of proposals that each stakeholder would suggest to defend his/her “stake”, the reasons for these proposals, and the interests, values, and goals that motivate these proposals.

Stakeholder map: A two-dimensional visualization of all stakeholders that are relevant. Those stakeholders that are located close together on a stakeholder map are similar in so far as they provided similar weights to all proposals. The stakeholders that are farthest apart differ most from each other. A stakeholder map is generated from the stakeholder weights.

Stakeholder position: The stakeholder position includes both proposals that a stakeholder might put forward and stances to other proposals.

Stakeholder weights: A table that indicates for each stakeholder on a scale from +3 to -3 how much this stakeholders favors or disfavors each proposal.

Stance: An expression of support or opposition to a proposal on the part of a stakeholder. Measured by the weight that a stakeholder ascribes to a proposal.

Step: See module step.

Sub-goal: A specific learning goal that needs to be achieved. The way to achieve a sub-goal is described by a script.

Symphysis proposal: A proposal that is more convincing than any individual stakeholder proposal. In Greek, symphysein means “growing together.” Whereas “synthesis” refers to “something that is put together,” symphysis is intended to signify an ongoing process of growing together, that is, the evolution of a proposal that is always better — i.e., more broadly acceptable — than its predecessor or predecessors. A symphysis proposal is created based on a reflection on all the proposals put forward by stakeholders. It attempts to cover as many of the motives underlying stakeholder proposals as possible, taking the broadest possible variety of stakeholder interests, opinions, and values into account, and trying to find creative solutions and possible win-win solution. The goal of a symphysis proposal is achieved when all weights that the stakeholders would assign to the proposal are positive or at least neutral. Consider compensation or other benefits for those stakeholders whose stance to the proposal remains negative. Compensation should be designed so that the stance of all stakeholders becomes positive or at least neutral. Also, consider incentives for not withdrawing from negotiations for the sake of a stakeholder’s BATNA. See also the considerations on how to develop a symphysis proposal.

Symphysis proposal weights: A table that indicates for each stakeholder on a scale from +3 to -3 how much this stakeholders favors or disfavors a certain symphysis proposal.

Go to top


Weight: A value between +3 and -3 that measures the level of support or opposition that a stakeholders holds to a specific proposal. There are stakeholder weights and symphysis proposal weights.

Wicked problem: A wicked problem is a problem that can be framed in a number of different ways, depending on who is looking at it, so that all of the following can be observed:

    1. the formulation of the problem and the question on which level it should be addressed become a problem;
    2. there is no exhaustively describable set of potential solutions; and
    3. there is no agreement on the standards that should be used to assess solutions.

Framing happens in two different processes: (1) By determining the boundary around the problem in a specific way; (2) by describing the problem by specific concepts, images, metaphors, theories, descriptive, or explanatory models.

The various ways of framing the problem might be due to different interests, world-views, values, ideas regarding possible solutions, or differences regarding the scale on which the problem might be addressed (“Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem,” as Rittel and Webber 1973, p. 165, write). Wicked problems such as whether we should geoengineer the Earth’s climate, use robotics caregivers for the elderly, or try to bring a Neanderthal to life from DNA are characterized by the fact that different stakeholders look at them from varying, often conflicting perspectives that are determined by different interests, beliefs, world-views, and values. Since every perspective is limited, being able to deal with wicked problems requires the skill to correct one’s own reasoning.

Work plan: A chronologically ordered set of activities. There are generic work plans and work plan instantiations.

Work plan instantiation: Describes a set of activities that teams, team members, and project leaders have to accomplish. These activities can have an event date, a due date, or a start date. A project or team leader creates a work plan instantiation by selecting phases and modules from a generic work plan for a s specific project type and by adding the dates.

Go to top


Catrambone, R. (2011). Task analysis by problem solving (TAPS): Uncovering expert knowledge to develop high-quality instructional materials and training. Paper presented at the 2011 Learning and Technology Symposium, Columbus, GA, June

Dillenbourg, P. (2015). Orchestration graphs. Modeling scalable education (1st ed.). Lausanne, Switzerland: EPFL Press.

Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management. A stakeholder approach (Pitman series in business and public policy). Boston: Pitman.

Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4, 155-169.

Go to top