Teaching for Cognitive Engagement – Research Excerpt

The following excerpt comes from research by a research summary published on the IDRA website by Adela Solis.  Click here to read the full summary on the IDRA website. Below is an interesting list of examples of that Cognitive Engagement in a classroom may look like from both the student and teacher perspective.

What Engaged Students Say, Do and Look Like

First, there are student behaviors (among mainstream and English language learners), as captured by observers and reported by others, that are evidence of student engagement. Below are some examples.

  • Students are included and treated fairly.
  • Students show that they know when they are successful in tasks.
  • Students can make real authentic choices and regulate own learning.
  • Students seem secure and safe in the classroom.
  • Students are actively discovering, constructing and creating.
  • Students are listening, observing, noticing and being mindful.
  • Students are immersed in tasks.
  • Students keep busy and active. They are not clock-watching.
  • Students say they understand task expectations.
  • Students are saying, doing, writing and responding openly.
  • Students look satisfied and fulfilled after responding.
  • Students sit, walk tall, speak up, look self-assured.

What Teachers Teaching for Engagement Do

Second, there are teacher behaviors, or strategies, that predict student engagement. Here are some examples.

  • Teachers express high expectations.
  • Teachers create personal human relationships between teachers and students.
  • Teachers use a variety of space, student and room arrangements.
  • Teachers link to prior knowledge and experience.
  • Teachers plan and address allocated time, engaged time and academic learning.
  • Teachers review frequently.
  • Teachers do continual assessment and feedback.
  • Teachers focus language on meaning, form and use.
  • Teachers seek evidence of participation and flow.
  • Teachers ensure all students are always doing something.
  • Teachers articulate rules for participation.
  • Teachers use list of evidence checks.
  • Teachers include lots of language practice.
  • Teachers use a variety of interaction modes.
  • Teachers structure tasks in rigorous, active and accountable ways.


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