Tag Archive : student engagement

Formative Assessment is the Key to Unlocking Student Engagement

For classroom teachers, the following scenario is probably familiar: you spend hours coming up with a lesson that’ll cover what students need to learn and you ask a simple question that is answered only by half-smiles or vacant stares. It can be incredibly challenging for educators to know if students are engaged and grasping the concepts that are taught during instruction. After all, it is one thing for a teacher to teach, but entirely another for students to learn. Even motivated learners may only catch bits and pieces of a lecture-style lesson, not absorbing enough information to apply learning. Educators require multiple avenues for engaging students and making sure that they understand the curriculum. One way to improve instructional planning is to use formative assessment. Today’s busy educators may need support to effectively implement formative assessment or to develop their own formative assessment tools. This is precisely why Mastery Education, the team behind Measuring Up, has developed specific tools to help teachers implement formative assessment with confidence.


There are many effective approaches to teaching, and formative assessment can be incorporated into any instructional model. Formative assessment involves student questioning and the use of data which enables students to collaborate in the instructional process by helping them to discover how they learn best.


According to Brent Duckor and Carrie Holmberg’s work on mastering formative assessment[1], there are 7 vital steps to formative assessment that can help make sure students remain engaged from the beginning to the end of each lesson. The first two steps help to orient students so that they understand the lesson objectives.

  • First, educators must “prime” students with background information to help them make the connections between what they already know and what they are about to learn.
  • Second, educators “pose” related questions that help students make cross-curricular connections.
  • Steps three and four occur during instruction. These steps are
    • “pausing”– allowing ample wait time for student responses to questions, and
    • “probing” – asking deep questions that allow for students to elaborate and make more connections.
  • The final steps are “bouncing”, “tagging”, and “binning” – all three of these tools help teachers to collect data about their classrooms to guide future planning decisions.
    • “Bouncing” involves systematically sampling student responses to gather data.
    • “Tagging” involves recording student responses and providing students with information about their own learning styles and needs.
    • “Binning” involves interpreting collected student data to make decisions about future instruction.

Formative assessment can yield many positive results as students begin to take ownership of their learning and see the classroom as a partnership between student and teacher.


Creating instructional methods that reach students with a wide range of interest and ability can be an immense challenge for educators. Finding efficient and effective tools to raise achievement for all students is critical to success in the classroom. When teachers implement the 7 steps of formative assessment throughout instruction, students become more responsive and interested in lessons. Posing questions that encourage discussion helps students readily apply their knowledge, attain confidence in their skills, and bolster their speaking and listening abilities.


Measuring Up’s instructional and diagnostic solutions provides many of these 7 steps to support educators as they target instruction. Measuring Up print instructional worktexts easily allows the teacher to introduce, review and practice on a targeted standard and include variety of opportunities for informal and formal assessment and engagement. Measuring Up Live, digital component, offers diagnostic and adaptive practice that provides additional tools to measure for learning and support student engagement. To learn more about these resources, visit https://masteryeducation.com.



[1] http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Mastering-Formative-Assessment-Moves.aspx

Six Strategies to Increase Student Engagement

No teacher wants to lecture to a student who is bored or disengaged, and no student wants to sit in a classroom feeling the material is meaningless. When it comes to learning, engagement is essential. Savvy educators seek to connect with students and engage their growing minds in new and innovative ways. But these engagement methods must be grounded in research, rather than guesswork.

With so many resources available today, how can educators find those that engage students? According to Robert Marzano in The New Art and Science of Teaching (2017), monitoring student engagement is critical so that teachers know when to employ effective engagement strategies and sense when students may need differentiated instruction to optimize learning.

Students can provide teachers with self-reported engagement data through informal verbal or written prompts during a lesson. Marzano suggests that teachers should react when they see students are disengaged. Increasing engagement might involve creating a “lively pace” through the use of instructional segments, allowing students to work at their own individual pace, or grouping students according to where they are in their comprehension of new material. Educators may also want to add physical movement, such as standing to vote for an answer, or present new and unusual information through real-world connections.

To engage students, teachers should consider the following strategies:

1. Make It Meaningful: If students do not consider a learning activity worthy of their time and effort, they might not engage in an effective way, or may even disengage entirely in response.

2. Foster a Sense of Competence: Competence results from a student’s ongoing personal evaluation of whether he or she can succeed in a learning activity or challenge.

3. Provide Autonomy Support: Teachers should create a sense of autonomy by nurturing the students’ sense of control over their behaviors and goals.

4. Embrace Collaborative Learning: When students work effectively with others, their engagement may be amplified as a result.

5. Establish Positive Teacher-Student Relationships: High-quality teacher-student relationships are another critical factor in creating student engagement, especially in the case of difficult students and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

6. Promote Mastery Orientations: Engagement is more likely to be full and thorough when students pursue an activity because they want to learn and understand through mastery, rather than get a good grade, look smart, please their parents, or outperform peers.

Research by Marzano has shown that providing choices to students of all age levels often increases their intrinsic motivation and have been linked to increases in effort, task performance, and subsequent learning. However, for students to feel that their decision has an impact on their learning, teachers should provide students with choices of tasks, reporting formats, learning goals, and behaviors.

The new Measuring Up instructional worktexts offer engagement features designed to get students thinking about their progress so they become invested in their own success. These materials engage students through collaboration, turn and talk, and prompts to check understanding. Students learn relevance through with real-world applications of vocabulary and math skills, authentic writing tasks, and real models of math concepts. Each lesson is grounded in the significance of concepts being learned.

And the digital Measuring Up Live platform offers games, dashboards to monitor progress, and data and reporting, all designed to allow students to be drivers of their own success and to help teachers monitor student engagement.

It is important to choose a partner that evolves with the ever-changing education landscape. Mastery Education, the creator of Measuring Up, is constantly striving to provide richer and deeper learning experiences that prepare students for the challenges of mastering today’s standards and unlock the possibility of a brilliant future.

To learn more, visit MasteryEducation.com today.