Framework for Teaching: Principles of Engagement

I recently had the chance to share with students completing their student teaching some of the things I have garnered throughout my career that have served to inform my teaching. It was satisfying to be able to pull together these thoughts. The ensuing discussion was rewarding. I hope to capture them in a series of blog entries.

The CORI framework is built on the idea that engaged learners learn more and learn more effectively. Intentionally built within every lesson is attention to one of the principles of engagement*.

Relevance – If students are going to be able to connect to the learning, we need to make that learning relevant. Build a connection to their experiences, provide clear purpose to the learning, situate the learning so they are eager to acquire the new knowledge

Choice – People are wired to have some control in their lives. Too often, students have little opportunity for a sense of control. Providing choice is a way to integrate the sharing of control in the classroom. Teachers can provide the structure and guidance and make it clear the end goal of the work ahead, but allow students choice in how they move forward.

Collaboration – People are social animals and learning is a social activity. Provide the means for students to work together, to share the tasks, and to celebrate together the work they have accomplished and the learning they have acquired.

Success – We all need to have a feeling of competence. To be an engaged learner, students need to experience the feeling that is associated with a job well done. We need to provide the structure for students to take on doable, but challenging, tasks – and to be able to carry them successfully through to the end.

Conceptual Theme – Learning tasks that hang together collectively working toward a larger end have better chances of capturing the interest of students and building engagement. Work toward something that is sufficiently complex to provide a challenge and occurs over time.

These are useful constructs in any classroom in any discipline. To intentionally consider integrating one of these principles into everything you do is to help build engaged learners and create the kind of classroom where students and teacher look forward to coming every day.

* The five principles of engagement are drawn from the CORI framework presented in the materials that can be found on the CORI website –

About wlindquist

I'm a career educator currently teaching pre-service teachers at Hamline University - Master of Arts in Teaching program. Interested in science education, inquiry-based science, and the intersection of science and literacy.
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