1. Vision of Engaged Learning
- Responsible for Learning. Students take charge of their
own learning and are self-regulated. They
define learning goals and problems that are meaningful to them;
understand how specific activities relate to
those goals; and, using standards of excellence, evaluate how well
they have achieved the goals. Successful,
engaged learners also have explicit measures and criteria for
assessing their work as well as benchmark
activities, products, or events for checking their progress toward
achieving their goals.
- Energized by Learning. Engaged learners find excitement
and pleasure in learning. They possess a
lifelong passion for solving problems and understanding ideas or
concepts. To such students, learning is
- Strategic. Engaged learners continually develop and
refine learning and problem-solving strategies.
This capacity for learning how to learn includes constructing
effective mental models of knowledge and
resources, even though the models may be based on complex and
changing information. Engaged learners can apply
and transfer knowledge in order to solve problems creatively and
they can make connections at different levels.
- Collaborative. Engaged learners understand that learning
is social. They are able to see themselves
and ideas as others see them, can articulate their ideas to others,
have empathy for others, and are fair-minded
in dealing with contradictory or conflicting views. They have the
ability to identify the strengths and
intelligences of themselves and others.
2. Tasks for Engaged Learning
- Challenging. Unlike tasks usually offered in schools,
challenging tasks are typically complex and
required sustained amounts of time. Such tasks also require
students to stretch their thinking and social
skills in order to be successful.
- Authentic. Authentic tasks correspond to tasks in the
home and workplace. They are closely related
to real-world problems and projects, build on life experiences,
require in-depth work, and benefit from frequent
collaboration. Such collaboration can take place with peers and
mentors within school or with diverse people
outside of school.
- Integrative/interdisciplinary. Challenging and authentic
tasks often require integrated instruction,
which blends disciplines into thematic or problem-based pursuits,
and instruction that incorporates problem-
based learning and curriculum by project.
3. Assessment of Engaged Learning
- Performance-Based. Students construct knowledge and
create artifacts to represent their learning.
Ideally, students also are involved in generating performance
criteria and are instrumental in the overall
design, evaluation, and reporting of their assessment.
- Generative. The overriding purpose of assessment is to
improve learning. To that end, assessment
should closely match the goals of the curriculum; represent
significant knowledge and enduring skills, content,
and themes; and provide authentic contexts for performance. The
performance criteria should be clear, well
articulated, and part of the students' learning experience prior to
assessment. Indeed, developing standards
of excellence for learning and thinking is an important part of
- Interwoven with Curriculum and Instruction. Assessment
should include all meaningful aspects of
performance. It should encompass the evaluation of individual as
well as group efforts; self-, peer, and
teacher assessments; attitudes and thinking processes; drafts or
artifacts of developing products as well as
final products; open-ended as well as structured tasks; and tasks
that emphasize connections, communication,
and real-world applications. Multiple measures (e.g., surveys,
inventories, journals, illustrations, oral
presentations, demonstrations, models, portfolios, and other
artifacts of learning) are needed to assess "big
ideas" and complex learning outcomes over time.
- Equitable Standards. Parents and students should be
familiar with the standards that apply to all
students and be able to evaluate the performance of an individual or
group using those standards.
4. Instructional Models and Strategies for Engaged Learning
- Interactive. Instruction actively engages the learner.
- Generative. Generative instruction encourages learners
to construct and produce knowledge in
meaningful ways by providing experiences and learning environments
that promote deep, engaged learning.
Generative instruction also encourages learners to solve problems
actively, conduct meaningful inquiry, engage
in reflection, and build a repertoire of effective strategies for
learning in diverse social contexts.
5. Learning Context for Engaged Learning
- Knowledge-Building Learning Community. The learning
community resists fragmentation and competition
and enables students to learn more collaboratively.
- Collaborative. In learning communities, intelligence is
assumed to be distributed among all members.
Collaborative classrooms, schools, and communities encourage all
students to ask hard questions; define
problems; take charge of the conversation when appropriate;
participate in assessments and in setting goals,
standards, and benchmarks; have work-related conversations with
various adults in and outside school; and engage
in entrepreneurial activities.
- Empathetic. Learning communities search for strategies
to build on the strengths of all members.
These strategies are especially important for learning situations in
which members have very different prior
6. Grouping for Engaged Learning
- Heterogeneous. Heterogeneous groups include males and
females and a mix of cultures, learning
styles, abilities, socioeconomic status, and ages. This mixture
brings a wealth of background knowledge and
differing perspectives to authentic, challenging tasks.
- Flexible. Flexible groups are configured and
reconfigured according to the purposes of instruction.
This flexibility enables educators to make frequent use of
heterogeneous groups and to form groups, usually for
short periods of time, based on common interests or needs.
- Equitable. The use of both flexible and heterogeneous
groups is one of the most equitable means of
grouping. It ensures increased opportunities to learn for all
7. Teacher Roles for Engaged Learning
- Facilitator. The teacher provides rich environments,
experiences, and activities for learning by
incorporating opportunities for collaborative work, problem solving,
authentic tasks, and shared knowledge and
- Guide. In a collaborative classroom, the teacher must
act as a guide - a complex and varied role
that incorporates mediation, modeling, and coaching. When mediating
student learning, the teacher frequently
adjusts the level of information and support based on students'
needs and helps students to link new information
to prior knowledge, refine their problem-solving strategies, and
learn how to learn.
- Co-Learner and Co-Investigator. Teachers and students
participate in investigations with practicing
professionals. Using this model, students explore new frontiers and
become producers of knowledge in knowledge-
building communities. Indeed, with the help of technology, students
may become the teachers as teachers become
8. Student Roles for Engaged Learning
- Explorer. Students discover concepts and connections and
apply skills by interacting with the
physical world, materials, technology, and other people. Such
discovery-oriented exploration provides students
with opportunities to make decisions while figuring out the
components/attributes of events, objects, people,
- Cognitive Apprentice. Students become cognitive
apprentices when they observe, apply, and refine
through practice the thinking processes used by real-world
practitioners. In this model, students reflect on
their practice in diverse situations and across a range of tasks,
and they articulate the common elements of
- Producers of Knowledge. Students generate products for
themselves and their community that
synthesize and integrate knowledge and skills. Through the use of
technology, students increasingly are able
to make significant contributions to the world's knowledge.
Excerpted and summarized from Designing Learning and Technology
for Educational Reform, by Beau Fly
Jones, Gilbert Valdez, Jeri Nowakowski, and Claudette Rasmussen
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