Question Detail

I am going to observe a classroom with my observation focus being student engagement. What should I be looking for, what data should I collect and how should I collect it?

Nov 10, 2014 1:16pm

As part of our coaching cycles we will be focusing on student engagement for 6 weeks. As I am entering a observation/co-planning/reflection cycle with a teacher what data can I collect during an observation where I am focusing on student engagement? What should I be looking for during an observation? What data could I bring the teacher when we reflect?

  • Other
  • 6-12
  • Coaching


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    • Nov 10, 2014 5:23pm

      I also want to piggy-back on what Jessica's already mentioned. If students are engaged in some collaborative work, you may want to observe if the students are using vocabulary words connected with their learning standard. Or are the students using ambiguous terms like "whatchamacallit", or "you know - that thing", and so on. Which students are more technical in the use of their language? Level of rigour - are students simply copying what others are doing or are they actually coming up with some original thinking. Students on task behaviour? What do they look like?

      • Nov 10, 2014 2:21pm

        I highly recommend that you gather as much quantitative data as possible during the observation. Jim Knight's books *Unmistakeable Impact* and *High Impact Instruction* have some tools for this. I think it would be best if everyone in the school had conversations about what each area observed truly meant, looked like, and sounded like. This will give you more credibility when you share the data and it will also help people start to think about what they're going to do with the results. Engagement is a great place to start and you want to make sure that everyone understands the different components that are included within engagement. We have looked at time on task, but also questioning, ratio of interactions with students, and use of instructional time.

        • Nov 13, 2014 4:19pm

          I think what's essential in this case is that there's shared agreement amongst a staff around what engagement looks like. Before going in to do observations, a staff should have a definition of what it is, what it looks like and what data will be gathered. Otherwise you run all kinds of risks of people feeling like it's a "gotcha" observation. What does the teacher think engagement is? I personally think that while the concept of engagement is essential, it's tricky because if we're talking about cognitive engagement that's sometimes hard to see, measure or evaluate. So what is the manifestation of engagement? What are the observable behaviors we see when we're engaged? That's what I'd focus on -- so I'd frame the whole observation differently. I'd look for verbal participation, that every child contributed at least something, I'd listen for the quality of those contributions, the connections that kids make. I'd also look for evidence of impact of engagement--in other words, we want the engagement to be an experience which leads students to read or write or talk or...what? What's the purpose of engagement? But most important is that there's shared understanding.