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Classroom Implementation, Student Achievement, and Project Evaluation

At the 2012 American Educational Research Association meeting, Rachel Lotan and Laura Bofferding discuss the results of the first cohort analysis.

Rachel Lotan & Laura Bofferding discussing a poster.

Our first hypothesis is supported by our finding that, at the classroom level, the average level of student engagement/interaction is positively related to the average achievement gains on the paper-and-pencil test of the curriculum. In addition, we found that the greater the disengagement, the lower the learning gains. However, the average level of engagement (without interaction) is not significantly related to learning gains. In other words, engagement is a necessary but not sufficient condition for learning.

Under what conditions did we see the most interaction? We found that the average levels of student interaction, engagement, and disengagement varied by the structural arrangement of the lesson. Interaction levels were highest when students worked in small groups and the lowest when they worked individually.

Our second hypothesis relates teacher talk to student interaction. To better understand this relationship, we first looked at the quantities of talk in each area. The majority of teachers talk was in the area of factual content and classroom process—two areas that are common and necessary components of any classroom. Much less of the total teacher talk fell into the scaffolding categories of data, interpret/infer and evaluate/apply.

Of all the teacher talk categories, the only one that is significantly correlated with interaction is the rarely utilized category of “Evaluate/Apply.” In contrast, the average percentage of class procedure talk is negatively related to the level of student disengagement. However, in both cases, it is important to note that the variables are correlated, though we cannot assume causation. That is, in classrooms where class procedure talk is high, there may be significant classroom management issues so teachers spend a lot of time on disciplining students and directing their behaviors.

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