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Classroom Strategies

Educational Psychology
Brian Lahti
Professor Cathy Cole
Ivy Tech Community College

Getting and Keeping Students

-Create stimulating lessons in which students want to pay
-Get students physically involved with the subject matter.
-Incorporate a variety of instructional methods into lessons.
-Provide frequent breaks from quiet, sedentary activities,
especially when working with students in elementary
-In the middle school and high school grades, encourage
students to take notes.
-Minimize distractions when students must work quietly
and independently.

Encouraging Elaboration of
Classroom Topics

-Communicate the belief that students can and should make

sense of what theyre studying.
-Ask questions that require students to draw inferences
from what theyre learning.
-Have students apply what theyve learned to new
situations and problems.
-Focus on an in-depth understanding of a few general
principals-the big ideas within a disciplineinstead of
covering many topics superficially.
-Create opportunities for small-group or whole-class
discussions which students can freely exchange their views.

Helping Students Acquire New Skills

-Help students understand the logic behind the procedures

theyre learning.
-When skills are especially complex, break them into
simpler tasks that students can practice one at a time.
-Provide mnemonics that can help students remember a
sequence of steps.
-Give students many opportunities to practice new skills,
and provide the feedback they need to help them improve.

Promoting Conceptual Change

-Probe for misconceptions that may lead students to
interpret new information incorrectly.

-Provide information and experiences that explicitly

contradict students misunderstandings.
-Ask questions that challenge students misconceptions.
-Show students how an alternative explanation is more
plausible and usefulhow it makes more sense than their
original belief.
-Give students corrective feedback about responses that
reflect misunderstanding.
-Build on any kernels of truth in students existing
-When pointing out misconceptions, do so in a way that
maintains students self-esteem.
-Engage students in discussions of the pros and cons of
various explanations.
-Ask students to apply their revised understandings to new
situations and problems.

Using Feedback to Improve Learning

and Behavior
-Be explicit about what students are doing well--ideally, at
the time they are doing it.

-Give concrete guidance about how students can improve

their performance.
-Communicate optimism that students can improve.
-Dont overwhelm students with too much feedback: tell
them only what they can reasonably attend to and
remember at the time.
-Minimize feedback when students already know exactly
what theyve done well or poorly.
-Teach students strategies for appropriately asking for

Working with Students Who Have

Exceptional Abilities and Talents
-Individualize instruction in accordance with students
specific talents.

-Form study groups of students who have similar abilities

and interests.
-Teach complex cognitive skills within the context of
specific school topics rather than separately from the
regular school curriculum.
-Provide opportunities for independent study.
-Engage students in challenging, multifaceted public
service projects (i.e., service learning; see Chapter 4 and
Chapter 8)
-Encourage students to set high goals for themselves.
-Seek outside resources to help students develop their
exceptional talents.

Working with Students Who Have

Significant Delays in Cognitive
-Introduce new material at a slower pace, and provide many
opportunities for practice.

-Explain tasks and expected behaviors concretely and in

very specific language.
-Give students explicit guidance about how to study.
-Encourage independence.
-Provide technology that can enhance students selfreliance.

Conducting Effective Discovery and

Inquiry Learning Activities
-Identify a concept or principle about which students can
learn something significant through interaction with their
physical or social environment.

-Make sure students have the necessary prior knowledge to

make sense of what they observe.
-Show puzzling results to create disequilibrium and arouse
-Structure and guide a discovery session so that students
proceed logically toward discoveries you want them to
-Have students record their findings.
-Help students relate their findings to concepts and
principles in the academic discipline theyre studying.

Promoting Productive Dispositions

-Communicate your own enthusiasm for learning about
new topics.
-Model open-mindedness about diverse viewpoints and a
willingness to suspend judgment until all the facts are in.

-Conduct learning activities in which students collaborate

to address intriguing, multifaceted issues.
-Ask students to evaluate the quality of scientific evidence
and scaffold their efforts sufficiently that they can reach
appropriate conclusions.

Enhancing Self-Efficacy and SelfWorth

-Teach basic knowledge and skills to mastery.
-Define success in terms of task accomplishment or
improvement, not in terms of performance relative to

-Assure students that they can be successful at challenging

tasks, and point out that others like them have succeeded
before them.
-Assign large, complex tasks as small-group activities.
-Help students track their progress.
-When negative feedback is necessary, present it in a way
that communicates competence and the ability to improve.

Forming Productive Expectations and

-Look for strengths in every student.
-Consider multiple possible explanations for students low
achievement and classroom misbehavior.
-Communicate optimism about what students can

-Objectively assess students progress, and be open to

evidence that contradicts your initial assessments of
students abilities.
-Attribute students successes to a combination of high
ability and such controllable factors such as effort and
learning strategies.
-Attribute students failures to factors that are controllable
and easily changed.
-When students fail despite obvious effort, attribute their
failures to a lack of effective strategies and help them
acquire such strategies.
-Remember that teachers can definitely make a difference.

Showing and Promoting Caring

-Have students work together on some learning tasks.
-Continually communicate the message that you like and
respect your students.
-Praise students privately when being a high achiever is not
sanctioned by peers.
-Create a classroom culture in which respect for everyones
needs and well-being is paramount.

Easing the Transition to Middle and

Secondary School
-Provide a means through which every student can feel part
of a small, close-knit group.
-Address students personal and social needs as well as
their academic needs.
-Teach students the skills they need to be successful
independent learners.

-Assign grades based on mastery (not on comparisons with

peers), and provide reasonable opportunities for

Accommodating Diverse
-Minimize down time for students with high energy levels.
-Provide regular opportunities for highly sociable students
to interact with classmates.
-Be especially warm and attentive with very shy students.

-When students have trouble adapting to new

circumstances, give them advance notice of unusual
activities to provide extra structure and reassurance.
-If students seem to be overwhelmed by noisy or chaotic
situations, find or create a more calm and peaceful
environment for them.
-Teach self-regulation strategies to students who act

Encouraging Productive Interactions

among Diverse Individuals and
-Set up situations in which students can form cross-group
-Minimize or eliminate barriers to social interaction.
-Encourage and facilitate participation in extracurricular
activities, and take steps to ensure that no single group
dominates in membership or leadership in any particular

-Conduct class discussions about the negative

consequences or intergroup hostilities.
-Develop nondisabled students understanding of students
with disabilities, provided that the students and their
parents give permission to share what might otherwise be
confidential information.

Encouraging and Supporting Students

at Risk for Dropping Out
-Make the curriculum relevant to students lives and needs
for example, through service learning activities.
-Pique students interest with stimulating activities.
-Use students strengths to promote a positive sense of self.
-Through both words and actions, communicate optimism
about students chance for short term and long-term
personal and professional success.

-Provide extra support for academic success.

-Show students that they are personally responsible for
their successes.
-Create peer support groups that enable students to provide
mutual encouragement.
-Get students involved in extracurricular activities,
especially those that involve making a long-term
commitment to a group effort.
-Involve students in school policy and management

Identifying Goals and Objectives of

-Consult local, state, national, and international standards, but
dont rely on them exclusively.
-Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a given time
frame; allow time to purse important topics in depth.
-Identify both short-term objectives and long-term goals.
-In addition to goals related to specific topics and content areas,
identify goals related to students general long-term academic
-Consider physical, social, motivational, and affective outcomes as
well as cognitive outcomes.

-Describe goals and objectives not in terms of what the teacher will
do during a lesson but in terms of what students should be able to
do at the end of instruction and, ideally, also in ways that point to
appropriate assessment tasks.
-When formulating short-term objectives, identify specific
behaviors that will reflect accomplishment of the objectives.
-When formulating long-term goals that involve complex topics or
skills, list a few abstract outcomes and give examples of specific
behaviors that reflect each one.

Asking Questions to Promote and

Assess Learning
-Direct questions to the entire class, not just to a few
students who seem eager to respond.
-When a question has only a few possible answers, have
students vote on the particular answer they think is correct.
-Provide a means through which all students can write and
show their answers.
-Ask follow-up questions to probe students reasoning.
-When students initially struggle with a question, provide
sufficient scaffolding to enable them to answer correctly.

Enhancing the Effectiveness of

Cooperative Learning
-Choose challenging task that students may have trouble
accomplishing alone but can accomplish when several of
them coordinate their efforts.
-Form groups of students who are likely to work together
productively and have unique knowledge and skills to offer.
-Provide clear goals toward which groups should work.
-Structure tasks so that group members are dependent on
one another for success.
-Provide clear guidelines about how to behave.
-Monitor group interactions.

-Provide critical information and insights when (but only

when) a group is unlikely or unable to provide such
information and insights for itself.
-Make students individually accountable for their
-Ask students to evaluate their effectiveness in working as
a group.

Using Punishment Humanely and

-Inform students ahead of time that certain behaviors are
unacceptable, and explain how those behaviors will be
-Help students understand why the punished behavior is
-Emphasize that it is the behavior---not the student---that is
-Administer punishment privately, especially when other
students are not aware of the transgression.
-Simultaneously teach and reinforce desirable alternative

Talking with Parents about Students

-Consult with parents if a collaborative effort might bring
about a behavior change.
-Begin with a description of a students many strengths.
-Describe the problem in terms of inappropriate behaviors,
not in terms of undesirable personality characteristics.
-Dont place blame; instead, acknowledge that raising
children is rarely easy.
-Ask for information, and express your desire to work
together to address the problem.
-Agree on a strategy.

Constructing Multiple-Choice Items

-When assessing basic knowledge, rephrase ideas presented
in class or in the textbook.
-Present incorrect alternatives that are clearly wrong to
students who know the material but plausible to students
who havent mastered it.
-To assess complex cognitive processes, ask students to
apply what theyve learned to new situations.
-Occasionally incorporate visual materials.

Developing Performance Assessments

-Have students create products that reflect what they have
-When the assigned task doesnt yield a tangible product,
observe students behaviors and, if appropriate, probe their
thinking processes.
-Consider assigning complex, lengthy tasks as group
-Consider incorporating the assessment into normal
instructional activities.

Summarizing Students Achievements

with Portfolios
-Identify in advance the specific purpose(s) for which a
portfolio will be used.
-Align portfolio contents with important instructional goals
and/or content area standards.
-Ask students to select the contents of their portfolios
provide the scaffolding they need to make wise choices.
-Identify specific criteria that should guide students
selections; possibly include students in the criteria
identification process.
-Have students include reflections on the products they
-Give students a general organizational scheme to follow.
-Determine whether a physical format or electronic format
is more suitable for the circumstances.

-When using portfolios for summative assessments,

develop a rubric to guide evaluation.