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Page history last edited by Lauren Magnuson 5 years, 9 months ago


Student engagementin learning is the centerpiece of the framework for teaching; all other components contribute to it. When students are engaged in learning, they are not merely "busy," nor are they only "on task." Rather, they are intellectually active in learning important and challenging content. The critical distinction between a classroom in which students are compliant and busy and one in which they are engaged is that in the latter students are developing their understanding through what they do. That is, they are engaged in discussion, debate, answering "what if?" questions, discovering patterns, and the like. They may be selecting their work from a range of (teacher arranged) choices, and making important contributions to the intellectual life of the class. Such activities don't typically consume an entire lesson, but they are essential components of engagement.

A lesson in which students are engaged usually has a discernible structure: a beginning, a middle, and an end, with scaffolding provided by the teacher or by the activities themselves. Student tasks are organized to provide cognitive challenge, and students are encouraged to reflect on what they have done and what they have learned. That is, there is closure to the lesson, in which students derive important learning from their own actions. A critical question for an observer in determining the degree of student engagement is "What are the students being asked to do?" If the answer to that question is completing a worksheet, or performing a rote procedure like copying information, they are unlikely to be cognitively engaged.

In observing a lesson, it is essential not only to watch the teacher, but also to pay close attention to the students and what they are doing. The best evidence for student engagement is what students are saying and doing as a consequence of what the teacher does, has done, or has planned.


3c Engaging Students in Learning Elements include:

  • Activities and assignments

  • Grouping of students

  • Instructional materials and


  • Structure and Pacing

Grouping of Students – Examples



  • Teacher uses flexible grouping including whole class learning, pairs, quads, triads, student selected groups, teacher selected groups and random groups

  • Teacher decides on grouping according to instructional process

  • Teacher readily adjusts group when students are absent

  • Teacher assigns students to groups in various ways

  • Teacher directly instructs on the roles and responsibilities of group members


Highly Effective:


  • Students suggest appropriate opportunities for working in cooperative groups.

  • Students evaluate their own effectiveness in the group and the effectiveness of the group as a whole.

  • Students keep a record of their involvement in different types of groups.

  • Students provide feedback to each other about group participation.








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