Evaluating Instruction for Indicators of Engaged Learning

Introduction and Resources

Engaged learning: how can we assess whether our teachers are designing lessons that encourage it?

The North Central Regional Education Laboratory has provided a set of web resources based on the book Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform, by Beau Fly Jones, Gilbert Valdez, Jeri Nowakowski, and Claudette Rasmussen (NCREL, 1994). These resources define the concept of engaged learning by specifying a set of learning indicators given in the table below. Each of the eight areas is linked to a description of these indicators.

Engaged Learning Indicators

  1. Vision of Engaged Learning 
    • Responsible for Learning
    • Energized by Learning
    • Strategic
    • Collaborative
  2. Tasks for Engaged Learning 
    • Challenging
    • Authentic
    • Integrative/interdisciplinary
  1. Learning Context for Engaged Learning 
    • Knowledge-Building Learning Community
    • Collaborative
    • Empathetic
  2. Grouping for Engaged Learning 
    • Heterogeneous 
    • Flexible 
    • Equitable 
  1. Assessment of Engaged Learning
    • Performance-Based
    • Generative
    • Interwoven with Curriculum and Instruction
    • Equitable Standards
  2. Instructional Models and Strategies for Engaged Learning
    • Interactive
    • Generative
  1. Teacher Roles for Engaged Learning 
    • Facilitator 
    • Guide 
    • Co-Learner and Co-Investigator 
  2. Student Roles for Engaged Learning 
    • Explorer 
    • Cognitive Apprentice 
    • Producers of Knowledge 


Your task is to reflect on how well the engaged learning activities you participated in today meet the learning indicators in the table above. These activities included The Cube, 16 Things to Take to the Moon, and Make the Move. Your group will give a brief report on your conclusions.


Task 1: Evaluating the Learning (15-20 min)

  1. Form groups of 4 participants
  2. Select a name for your group, standing for your daunting task.
  3. In your group assign to each person a different box from the engaged learning indicators above.
  4. Individually, review the definitions of the engaged learning indicators in your box.
  5. Still individually, evaluate each one of the three learning activities that you did earlier in the day (Cube, 16 Things to the Moon, and Make the Move) for your signs of engaged learning.

Task 2: Reporting on your Results (15-20 min)

  1. Select one person in your group who will give a 2-3 minute report.
  2. Working together in your group, each person share the results of their evaluation of the day's activities.
  3. Help the person who is reporting put together a talk that includes one contribution from each member in the group.
  4. Reporters, you may practice the presentation to your group if you wish.

Other Resources


  1. Each group presenter will give their 2-3 minute presentation to the larger group.
  2. Large group discussion of the significance of engaged learning will follow.
Modified by Jim Andris, October 9, 1999.