The Structural Approach and Kagan Structures

Spencer Kagan

The Structural Approach to cooperative learning, also known as Kagan Cooperative Learning, is an approach to cooperative learning based on the use of structures. Kagan Structures are step-by-step, content-free instructional strategies that structure the interaction of students with each other, the curriculum, and the teacher to ensure the implementation of four basic principles of cooperative learning, to be explained in this chapter. To understand the theoretical underpinnings and practical implementation of the Structural Approach to cooperative learning, first we will examine three empowering theoretical concepts: Situationism; the Seven Keys to Success; and Teacher А, В, C. After presenting these theoretical constructs, we overview the unique approach to teacher training used in the Structural Approach and review research demonstrating a range of positive outcomes when teachers implement Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures. We interpret why Kagan Structures produce a wide range of positive outcomes and how structures can be the basis of an instructional revolution that reverses the negative effects of a massive, unintended training in competitive and individualistic social orientation.


The Structural Approach to cooperative learning is applied situationism. Situationism is a way of explaining human behavior. There has been a great deal of debate among psychologists about what determines a person’s behavior: Is it their personality or their current situation? Personality psychologists explain behavior based on individual needs, motives, and values; how a person was brought up; their culture; their experiences and education. Social psychologists instead look to the situation a person is in, claiming situations determine behavior.

As a research psychologist for 19 years I studied what determines cooperative versus competitive behavior. My research and that of my colleagues demonstrated that by manipulating situational variables, regardless of personality, we can make anyone either very cooperative or very competitive (Kagan & Madsen, 1971, 1975; Nelson & Kagan, 1974). When children are placed in situations in which cooperation is necessary to obtain rewards, they become extremely cooperative. If competition is necessary for reward attainment, children become very competitive. Situations overpower personality.

We can easily grasp how situations are more powerful than personality in determining cooperative versus competitive behavior by engaging in a simple thought experiment I call “The Basket of Gold Coins.”

The Basket of Gold Coins

In our thought experiment, we imagine two different situations.

Situation 1: Imagine a room with 200 people seated before a stage. On the stage is a tall woman holding a large basket containing about 200 gold coins. Each coin is worth $1000. The woman announces:

I am going to toss all these coins out into the room. I have a timer. After 3 minutes, any coin you are holding is yours to keep.

The woman then tosses out the coins.

Now imagine what the room would look like! There would be a big scramble to gather coins. In the process, there would be some pushing, shoving, grabbing, and perhaps even some scuffles for coins.

Situation 2: The woman comes back the next day. Her basket contains the same number of gold coins. This time she announces:

I am going to toss all these coins out into the room. I have a timer. I am going to place my basket on the stage. After 3 minutes, all the coins that are back in the basket will be shared equally among us. No one can keep any other coins.

The woman then tosses out the coins.

Now imagine what the room would look like. Someone farther from the basket might hand a coin to someone closer to the basket to more quickly get the coin in the basket. Those gathering coins might hand them to runners to get the coins in the basket more quickly. Participants in our experiment might even form something like a bucket brigade, handing coins from one to another to more quickly deposit coins into the basket.

What changed? The personality of the people in the room did not change. The number of gold coins did not change. People were given the same three minutes. Why were the people competitive in the first situation and cooperative in the second? What changed is the situation. When it comes to cooperation versus competition, situations are far more powerful than personality. Structures are situations that cause positive classroom behaviors. The Structural Approach to cooperative learning relies on structures, carefully sequenced instructional strategies, to create situations in the classroom that promote student cooperation and learning.

The Seven Keys to Success

At the heart of the Structural Approach to cooperative learning are Kagan Structures. The frequent use of simple Kagan Structures results in greater cooperation, more active engagement, and academic gains. However, in working with thousands of teachers and schools, we find that educators experience the greatest positive impact when Kagan Structures are not just used in isolation. The full power of the Structural Approach is released when Kagan Structures are implemented in a classroom that maintains several contextual elements. Combined with structures, we call all these elements the Seven Keys to Success. The Seven Keys to Success are (1) Basic Principles (PIES); (2) Structures; (3) Teams; (4) Management; (5) Teambuilding; (6) Classbuilding; and (7) Social Skills. Let’s look at these Seven Keys and how each unlocks the door to more successful cooperative learning.

Key I. Basic Principles (PIES)

When I realized the power of situations to determine cooperative interaction, I began developing a program of applied situationism for the classroom. In the process, together with my colleagues, we discovered four principles that must be in place to have all students engaged in productive cooperative learning. We define true cooperative learning as occurring when all four principles are in place. If any principle is not in place, the students may be working together, but gains for all are not assured. We say if a principle is left out, the students are doing group work, not cooperative learning.

The four principles that define cooperative learning in the Structural Approach are Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal (or Equitable) Participation, and Simultaneous Interaction (Kagan & Kagan, 2009). The four principles are symbolized by the acronym PIES. For each of the four PIES principles there are critical questions. A positive answer to the critical question indicates the principle is in place. For example, the E of PIES is equal or at least equitable participation. The critical question is simply, “Is participation approximately equal?” If we create a situation in which equal or equitable participation is not assured, then we are not doing cooperative learning as defined by the Structural Approach. All four principles must be in place for true cooperative learning in the structural approach. The P of PIES has two components and so has two critical questions. The four principles, their critical questions, and the consequence of putting each principle in place are summarized in Figure 5.1.

The PIES critical questions are very helpful in distinguishing true cooperative learning, which is almost always successful, from group work, which often is not successful. For example, teachers frequently use a structure called Turn-N-Talk. With Turn-N-Talk the teacher has students turn to a partner and discuss a topic. Teachers think the structure is good cooperative learning because there is a great deal of interaction and students are working together. Translation: The P and S of PIES are in place. A PIES analysis reveals it is not good cooperative learning because both the I and the E are not in place: If a highly motivated student is paired with an unmotivated student, the high achiever might well do most or even all of the talking. Thus, equal participation is not assured by the structure. Further, an unmotivated student can choose not to perform at all! So there is no individual accountability. Without PIES in place, there is no guarantee of positive outcomes for all students. Some students may experience gains, while others do not. Without PIES in place students are doing group work, not true cooperative learning, and group work often does not outperform traditional teaching methods.

In contrast to the teacher doing Turn-N-Talk, a teacher familiar with Kagan Structures might do a Timed Pair Share. In Timed Pair Share, in turn, each student in the pair talks for an equal amount of time while their partner listens. Thus, there is equal participation and each student is accountable for performing. To the untrained eye, Turn-N-Talk and Timed Pair Share may look equivalent; when we look at those structures through the lens of PIES, Turn-N-Talk is group work and Timed Pair Share is true cooperative leaning.

Key 2. Cooperative Learning Structures

At the heart of the Structural Approach to cooperative learning are structures that have PIES in place—true cooperative learning structures. The nickname for structures that implement all four of the PIES principles is “Kagan Structures.”

Over time, Kagan Structures have undergone repeated revisions to better implement PIES. When I developed the first Kagan Structure, Numbered Heads Together, it had only four steps. Students sit in teams of four and students each have a number—1, 2, 3, or 4. Originally the four steps of Numbered Heads Together were as follows: [1] [2] [3] [4]

PIES: Basic principles of cooperative learning

Figure 5.1 PIES: Basic principles of cooperative learning

As we used Numbered Heads Together over the years, we discovered it could better implement PIES by modifying the steps. To better implement the simultaneity principle(s), we developed simultaneous response modes so that all the students with the called number could respond rather than just one. For example, in one of many simultaneous response modes, students have response boards so all of the students whose number is called can respond at the same time. To better implement individual accountability, we inserted a step between the teacher asking the question and students putting their heads together: We inserted an individual write. That is, students secretly write their best answer before sharing with their teammates. That way each student is individually accountable for performing. Without that step, students could take a free ride by not thinking, just waiting to hear the answer from their teammates. To further improve the simultaneity principle, we created a variation of Numbered Heads Together: Paired Heads Together. In Paired Heads Together when we call for a response, half the class is called upon (one student per pair), not a quarter of the class (one student per team). With pairs, we double the overt active participation, better implementing the simultaneity principle.

Over time many of the structures have been modified not only to better implement PIES but also to more fully align with brain research (Kagan, 2014). For example, the principle of retrograde memory enhancement is a well-established principle of brain science (McGaugh, 2003). Retrograde memory enhancement simply means that anything associated with emotion is better remembered. To align Numbered Heads Together with that finding, we inserted applause or team cheers following correct responses. Brain research also indicates students perform better when there is frequent movement in the class. Movement results in increased nourishment to the brain. Thus, we developed variations of Numbered Heads Together that allow students to move and interact with others in the class while going through the basic steps of Numbered Heads Together. In Traveling Heads Together students whose number is called “travel” to a new team to share their answer. Stir-the-Class is more complex. Teams stand around the perimeter of the room. They huddle to consult during the heads-together step, unhuddle (a word we invented, meaning to get out of the huddle and stand in a line) when done. When the teacher calls a number, the teacher states how many teams ahead the called-upon student is to rotate to share his or her answer.

Following these improvements, Numbered Heads Together now has seven steps, rather than four, and includes variations. Our handout to teachers for Numbered Heads Together is presented in Figure 5.2.

Numbered Heads Together

Figure 5.2 Numbered Heads Together

What Is a Structure?

We have been describing structures as ways to implement PIES, but we have not to this point offered a formal definition of structures. What are the essential elements of a structure? Structures are repeatable, content- free instructional strategies that produce predicable outcomes by creating situations that determine how students interact with their academic content, each other, and the teacher. We have already focused on one parr of that definition: Structures are situations. When we did the thought experiment with the basket of gold coins, we saw how situations create predictable behavior. Now let’s focus on another part of what defines structures: Structures are repeatable and content-free.

Repeatable, Content-Free

Perhaps the most important thing that distinguishes structures from other instructional strategies is that structures are repeatable and content-free. Let’s take the structure RallvRobin as an example. In RallvRobin, students are in pairs and they take turns making brief oral responses to a question that has more than one possible answer. For example, the teacher may ask students to do a RallyRobin naming odd numbers. Ral- lyRobin is the structure; naming odd numbers is the content. Having done RallyRobin with odd numbers, tomorrow the teacher could use RallyRobin again, this time having students name events from a story. Older students might be naming prime numbers or literary devices. RallyRobin is repeatable and content-free: We take out one content and put in another to create a new activity. RallyRobin can be used to have students name any content with multiple answers. For examples, the planets, the countries in Europe, things about which they are curious, or things for which students are grateful.

We work with a basic formula: Structure + Content = Activity. Because structures are content-free, any one structure can generate an infinite number of activities. They can be thought of as activity generators. Given any one structure, we can insert different content every day, generating new activities every day. In this formulation, a lesson is a series of sequenced activities. These activities can follow any type of lesson plan. For example, we might use one structure to create a set for the lesson, a different structure to give students input, another for guided practice, another for individual practice, and yet another structure for closure.

Structures make the life of a teacher easy; once a teacher knows a range of structures, the teacher simply delivers the content via structures. With practice, teachers implement structures effortlessly. It is analogous to learning to drive. When we first learn to drive a car, we have to think a lot: When do I start braking? When do I put on the turn signal? Is it safe to pass? How much space do I need to change lanes . . . ? After considerable practice, we drive effortlessly, free to have a conversation or to think about other things. Similarly, when we first learn a new language, we think a lot about the vocabulary, sentence structures, subject-verb agreement. Later we obtain fluency in the language and don’t think about the language at all; we think about what we want to say. When a teacher becomes fluent in a structure, the teacher no longer needs to think about the structure, the teacher thinks about what she wants to teach.

A great many teachers have told me that using structures has transformed their teaching. With traditional teaching, student come alive when the bell rings; when structures are used, students come alive in class. Perhaps my favorite comment from a teacher came from an older teacher who said, “I was looking forward to retirement, but now, using structures, I look forward to each day of teaching.”

Functions of Structures

Although my basic research on cooperation and the impact of situations on cooperativeness began in 1968, it was not until 1980 that Kagan Publishing and Professional Development began developing and training teachers in cooperative learning structures. In the nearly 40 years since then, we have developed over 280 cooperative learning structures. Why so many structures? Different structures determine different types of interaction and allow for the acquisition of different social skills, character virtues, thinking skills, and mastery of different types of content.

To take a simple example, let’s contrast RallyRobin with Timed Pair Share. If we want students to respond to a question that has many possible answers, we would choose RallyRobin. In RallyRobin students take turns stating answers. If we want students to explain an answer in depth, we would choose Timed Pair Share. In Timed Pair Share students have one turn each to share for a predetermined amount of time.

Some structures have very specific functions. Find-My-Rule is designed to promote inductive reasoning. In Find-My-Rule the teacher places objects or names of objects one at a time in an unlabeled graphic organizer; after each object is placed, students interact to attempt to infer the rule the teacher is using to sort the objects. Logic Line-Ups (Kagan, 2001), in contrast, is used to foster deductive reasoning. Students are given rules about the order of objects, and each student assumes the role of one object. Their job is to line up in order to respect the conditions of each rule. Other structures, in contrast, are multi-functional. For example, a RoundRobin (each student in a team shares in turn) may be used, among other things for mastery (practice skip counting); thinking skills (name consequences of World War II); teambuilding (name fun weekend activities); or processing a lesson (name important concepts in the lesson).

In training teachers in the functions of structures we distinguish ten main functions, divided into two categories: interpersonal and academic. See Figure 5.3: Structure Functions. Over the years we have developed many structures for each function. For example, Paraphrase Passport is a communication skill structure; it enhances listening and taking the role

Structure functions

Figure 5.3 Structure functions

of the other. Talking Chips is another communication skill structure; it enhances listening and turn-taking.

In planning activities for their students, we encourage teachers to first determine the functions they want to accomplish. Are they trying to foster a thinking skill, have students learn new facts, or practice new skills? Having determined the functions, they draw from those structures that are efficient in reaching those goals. Just as we would not use Logic Line-Ups to learn new facts, we would not use the Flashcard Game to foster thinking skills. With time, teachers draw effortlessly from their toolbox of structures to help students acquire desired skills. They choose structures tailored to their goals.

After having mastered the initial ten functions of structures, teachers may choose advanced workshops in the Structural Approach and learn new structures tailored to additional functions. For example, the brain has numerous independent memory systems and we have developed structures to place content in each of those memory systems. In the same way, we have developed structures to engage and develop Fifteen Thinking Skills (Kagan, 2003, 2005); Twenty-One Character Virtues (Kagan, 2000); Five Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence (Kagan, 2001, 2020); Eight Multiple Intelligences (Kagan & Kagan, 1998, 2006); and Five Stages of Language Acquisition (Kagan, 1993, 2013; Kagan & High, 2002). My major focus in the last decade has been to develop structures to implement six principles of brain-friendly teaching (Kagan, 1999, 2001b, 2006a, 2009, 2014).

Key 3. Teams


There are four types of teams: heterogeneous, random, homogeneous, and student-selected. Further, teams can be of different sizes. In the Structural Approach, we highly recommend students spend most of their time in heterogeneous teams of four.

Why Heterogeneous Teams?

We recommend teams of four, each team consisting of a high achiever, a high middle, a low middle, and a low achiever. Heterogeneous teams by academic achievement level maximize the chance of cross-ability tutoring. If everyone is at the same achievement level, they have little to learn from each other. Further, we recommend heterogeneous teams by gender, and by race, to improve cross-sex and cross-race relations.

Homogeneous teams by achievement level lead to winner and loser teams with negative impact on self-image and self-esteem for the low achievement teams. Random teams run the risk of having all the difficult or unmotivated students on one team. Self-selected teams usually devolve into homogeneous teams by ability level and run the risk of more off-task behavior as friends seek out friends.

We do recommend occasional breakout from the heterogeneous base team into random, and self-selected teams, but only for limited times and for special projects. For example, we might allow students to self-group into interest teams for an investigation project. Occasional breakouts into homogeneous teams to work with students with common needs are also possible, but to maximize achievement, and improve cross-sex and cross-race relations, it is important that students spend most of their time in heterogeneous teams.

Why Teams of Four?

Maximum simultaneous interaction occurs in pairs, and teams of four break evenly into two sets of pairs. For pair work we often say, turn to your “face partner,” the person seated across from you, or turn to your “shoulder partner,” the person seated next to you. During pair work, teams of three or five leave someone out. Teams larger than four cut down active engagement during teamwork. For example, to complete a RoundRobin it takes six minutes in a team of six but only four minutes in a team of four.

Re-forming Teams

We recommend forming new teams each six to ten weeks depending on the academic schedule. By having students work in different teams, we maximize the opportunity to learn new social skills (learning to get along with one person involves different skills than getting along with another). Further, some students are difficult to work with and we don’t want the other three to always be on a team with that person. In addition, re-forming teams creates novelty and variety, energizing the class.

Knowing who to put on teams, how long to keep teams together, how to re-form teams, when to use random teams, and when to use heterogeneous teams contributes to enhanced academic and social outcomes.

Key 4. Management

Efficient cooperative learning requires adopting different management techniques. For example, because students are often interacting in pairs, as teams, and even as a class as a whole, the teacher needs an efficient quiet signal. Rather than begging for student attention, the teacher may raise her hand, a signal for all students to do the same and focus on the teacher. Quickly the teacher obtains full, alert attention. Because we may want to call on one team or one individual on each team, we need efficient ways of selecting students, so we have developed mechanical and electronic “student selectors.” Because we want teams to engage in a structure for a specified amount of time or for individuals in the teams each to have the same amount of time to share, we need timers.

As we give instructions to engage in a structure, we can create chaos or efficient engagement depending on our management tools. We need to “trigger” action. For example, we may want students to do a grouping structure, StandUp—HandUp—PairUp. In StandUp—HandUp— PairUp, students get up from their seats, put a hand up while looking for a partner, find a partner, give the partner a high five, and put their hands down. It is simply one of the many grouping structures. We begin instructions with a phrase to trigger the action: “When I say go, you will do a StandUp—HandUp—PairUp.” We then continue giving the directions to students. If we do not trigger the action by saying “When I say go . . .,” students begin standing and moving as soon as we say we are going to do a StandUp—HandUp—PairUp. This creates chaos, so students do not hear the rest of the directions. We have developed dozens of cooperative learning management tools that make the implementation of Kagan Structures more efficient (Kagan, 2009).

Key 5. Teambuilding

Teammates are not likely to encourage and tutor each other if they do not know or like each other. Brain studies demonstrate maximum cognitive performance occurs in the context of inclusion and safety (Kagan,

2014). Thus, we want to put teambuilding in place. We identify five aims of teambuilding and provide structures for each (Kagan, 2009). The five aims of teambuilding are (1) getting acquainted; (2) forming a team identity; (3) structuring for mutual support; (4) valuing individual differences; and (5) developing synergy. We have developed structures and activities to implement each of these goals (Kagan et. al., 1997).

Teambuilding occurs any time teammates enjoy working with each other and bond with each other. Thus, teambuilding in the Structural Approach is an ongoing process rather than something that occurs only occasionally as a special activity. For example, the structure Team Statements involves each student first writing their own statement on a topic, say a definition of democracy. They then each read their statement to the team, receiving validation. They then attempt to come up with a Team Statement each student can endorse more fully than their own initial individual statement. In the process there is mutual support, valuing differences, and developing synergy. Thus, a great deal of teambuilding in the Structural Approach occurs while students work on academic tasks.

Classbuilding and teambuilding removes the awkwardness of sitting next to someone you might have never been given the opportunity to know.

—Leeanne Loewe, Student, Lehigh Senior High School

Key 6. Classbuilding

Classbuilding does for the class what teambuilding does for the team. The five aims of classbuilding are the same as the five aims of teambuilding but directed toward classmates rather than teammates. There are specific classbuilding structures (Kagan et al., 1995). For example, in Corners students each go to the corner of the room corresponding to their choice. For example, they might choose their favorite season: fall, winter, spring, or summer. Once in their corners, students do a RallvRobin with a partner naming reasons they most enjoy that season. Then they share out and students from other corners paraphrase with a partner. Thus, there is getting acquainted, mutual support (within corners), and valuing individual differences (across corners).

Like with teambuilding, a great deal of classbuilding occurs while students are engaged in academic tasks. For example, with corners the content might be which of four poems students like most, or which of four alternative hypotheses they favor to explain a finding. When teambuilding and classbuilding structures are used to explore academic content, students get to know each other better, experience mutual support, and come to appreciate and value individual differences.

Key 7. Social Skills

The structural approach to cooperative learning departs from other approaches to social skills. Rather than teaching lessons on social skills, social skills are embedded in the structures. For example, while students are doing a Timed Pair Share, they are practicing active listening. The teacher gives a gentle reminder for students to face their partner and give undivided attention. Because students are practicing the social skills repeatedly (each time a structure is used), the social skills are acquired. This acquisition model is very different from a learning model. When we give a lesson on a social skill, students learn about the social skill, but it does not become stably part of their repertoire. Lessons place the social skills in the semantic memory. Semantic memory stores facts and information but does not necessarily change behavior. A student may know it is good to be cooperative (semantic memory), but that does not make the student more cooperative. If we read a book on how to drive a car, we have information in semantic memory, but that does not mean we can drive a car. Structures, in contrast, place social skills in procedural memory. When we have practiced driving a car many times, we can drive the car without thinking about it; that skill is in procedural memory. By the repeated use of social skills embedded in the structures, social skills simply become procedural memories—the way students interact with each other without even thinking about it. In other words, learning about social skills is quite different from acquiring social skills.

If we give a lesson on active listening or taking turns, when we check back on students in a month, students are not spontaneously practicing active listening or turn-taking. If instead in that month we repeatedly have students use structures that engage active listening and turn-taking, at the end of the month students are more often spontaneously engaging in active listening and turn-taking. Structures socialize students.

The Structural Approach to social skills is validated by the data and teacher comments presented later in this chapter demonstrating how structures lead to decreases in disruptive behaviors and increases in positive social behaviors.

Are the Seven Keys Necessary?

Kagan Structures can be used as stand-alone instructional strategies without implementing the Seven Keys. A teacher can do a RallyRobin and create greater engagement, learning, and enjoyment of class and content even if the teacher has not done any teambuilding or classbuilding, has not carefully assigned students into heterogeneous teams of four, has not taught or modeled social skills, does not know efficient cooperative learning management techniques, has not learned about the function of structures, and has never heard about PIES.

Ignoring the Seven Keys to Success, however, leads to haphazard implementation and can lead to misuse and even failure of the structures. For example, a teacher who does not know there is an advantage in creating heterogeneous teams of four and seating the highest and lowest achiever in each group kitty corner in the team will not release the full power of cooperative learning. A teacher unacquainted with the functions of structures might use a Timed Pair Share for students to answer a high- consensus short-answer question. The students will be sitting with time running and nothing to say. Timed Pair Share only works for long-answer responses. To take another example, a teacher who tells students we are going to do a StandUp—HandUp—PairUp without prefacing their statement with “When I say go” is likely to have students getting up from their desks before the teacher has completed his instructions.

Seven Keys to Success in the Structural Approach

Figure 5.4 Seven Keys to Success in the Structural Approach

The Seven Keys are contextual elements that unlock the full power of the Structural Approach to cooperative learning. When structures are surrounded by these contextual elements, implementation is much more efficient and more powerful.

A list of the Seven Keys to Success is presented in Figure 5.4, along with an example of how to put that key in place and why the key is important. Each of the Seven Keys is presented in depth in our basic book, Kagan Cooperative Learning (Kagan & Kagan, 2009).

Teachers А, В, C

At any one moment, there are three distinct ways we can structure a classroom. In our trainings, we nickname these three ways of structuring interaction as Teacher A, Teacher B, and Teacher C. Distinguishing these three ways of structuring the classroom is one of the most helpful tools teachers have to transition into doing true cooperative learning. Teacher A uses traditional instructional strategies; Teacher В uses group work; Teacher C uses Kagan Structures. In short, Teacher A does not have students work with others; Teacher В has students work with others but does not implement all the PIES principles; and Teacher C has students work together using structures that implement all four of the PIES principles.

Many teachers use Teacher В methods but think they are doing true cooperative learning. When they learn to distinguish Teachers A, B, and C, they catch themselves doing group work and move up to doing true cooperative learning.

Let’s examine how Teachers A, B, and C elicit oral and written responses.

Teacher A:Traditional Instructional Strategies

For both oral and written responses, the traditional teacher has students work alone. That is, they either answer a teacher’s question without talking with classmates or they work alone on a worksheet.

Oral Responses.TSQA

I have worked with teachers and students in over 40 countries. This has given me an opportunity to observe teaching in learning in many parts of the globe. Based on those observations I can say with confidence that the most common way teachers attempt to elicit oral responses from students is to use the traditional structure I call Teacher-Student Question-Answer (TSQA). TSQA has the following five steps: [5] [6]

  • 3. The teacher calls on one.
  • 4. The chosen student answers.
  • 5. The teacher responds to the answer.

If we do a PIES analysis, we discover TSQA lacks all of the essential elements of cooperative learning.


The students are answering on their own so the gains of one are not directly tied to the gains of another and the students do not need each other for task completion. In fact, often during TSQA students are competing with each other to be called upon and many are even glad when a classmate fails to answer correctly because it affords them an opportunity to be called upon and receive teacher approval and peer admiration.


Students can choose not to raise their hands, and so performance is not required of all students.


More motivated and higher achieving students are called on more; some may not be called upon at all. We call most on those who least need the practice and least on those most in need of practice.


TSQA involves no simultaneous interaction: The teacher calls on students one at a time. In a class of 30, l/30th of the class or about 3% of the students are talking at any one time. Further, the teacher talks about twice as long as the students because the teacher talks twice for each time a student responds (asking the question and then responding to the answer). Using TSQA with a class of 30 students takes well over an hour to give each student one minute to verbalize their thinking. In contrast, using a structure like Timed Pair Share in which 50% of the class is verbalizing at any one moment takes a little over two minutes to give each student one minute to verbalize her/his thinking.

Beyond failing to pass the test of PIES, there are other major problems with structuring using TSQA. Three of the most important problems:

1. Non-representative Sample. By calling on volunteers, the teacher is calling on those students who are most likely to know the answer.

Thus, the teacher inadvertently creates an illusion that the class is learning the content better than they actually are.

  • 2. Increased Achievement Gap. Without intending the teacher calls most on the high achievers (who quickly raise their hands, anxious to be called upon) and least on the low achievers (who are hesitant to raise their hands). Because the high achievers are more engaged, they learn at a higher rate, increasing the achievement gap.
  • 3. Structured Boredom. Because the teacher calls on students one at a time, 29 of the 30 students in the class are not engaged at any one time, creating boredom. The overwhelming prevalence of boredom among students in traditional classrooms has been well documented repeatedly for many years (Goodlad, 1984). In a study of 11,848 students from 21 public schools in ten states, 86% stated they were bored in class and 63% gave as a reason: “teaching methods not interesting.” (NAIS Research, 2015)

Written Responses: Solo Worksheet Work

To elicit written responses, the traditional teacher relies on a structure called Solo Worksheet Work. Usually Solo Worksheet Work follows direct instruction on a skill and is designed to have students solve problems to practice the target skill. To implement Solo Worksheet Work, the teacher gives each student a worksheet and instructs students to complete the worksheet alone. Worksheets are then turned in to the teacher who corrects and grades them and returns them to the students.

If we do a PIES analysis, we discover Solo Worksheet Work lacks essential elements of cooperative learning.


The students work alone, so there is no interdependence. The gains of one do not help another. In fact, when worksheets are graded and passed back, students often compare grades, hoping to do better than others. Solo Worksheet Work involves a latent competition.


There is individual accountability as each student is individually accountable for his/her worksheet performance.


There is equal participation as all students complete their own worksheet.


Students are not interacting, but they are all performing at the same time.

Beyond failing to pass the test of PIES, there are other major problems with structuring using Solo Worksheet Work. Three of the most important problems:

  • 1. Delayed Feedback. Students do not receive corrective feedback until after the teacher has had time to correct and pass back the papers. By then, many students have forgotten doing the problems and simply scan their paper to look for their grade. This traditional approach to correcting mistakes leads to no new learning.
  • 2. Emphasis on Grades, Not Learning. If you ask students, why they do their worksheets most will say “to pass the course” or “to get a good grade.” Learning becomes the means, not the end. We learn in order to get a good grade. As we will see, in cooperative learning the emphasis is placed on learning, not grades.
  • 3. Competitive Social Comparison. When students receive their graded papers, they compare. Who did better than whom? This reinforces a competitive social orientation with emphasis on winning, not learning.

Teacher B: Group Work

For both oral and written responses Teacher В relies on unstructured group work. Students work together, but they structure their own interaction. Although Teacher В may want equal participation and individual accountability, the teacher has not structured for those outcomes, and so it may or may not occur. I am fond of saying Group Work is wishful thinking.

Oral Responses: Turn-N-Talk, Group Discussion

To elicit oral responses Teacher В has students talk with each other but does not structure the interaction. The most common Teacher В structure to elicit oral responses in pairs is Turn-N-Talk. The teacher poses a question or topic and then merely says, “Turn to your partner and talk it over.” To elicit oral responses in larger groups the teacher uses Group Discussion, simply directing students to talk over the topic in their group.


Students benefit from hearing the ideas of others in their group, but they are not interdependent. That is, one student may choose not to verbalize her/his ideas, so task completion does not depend on participation of everyone.


A student may choose not to speak and so is not held accountable. EQUAL PARTICIPATION

Imagine a very verbal student paired with a shy student. Participation is likely to be quite unequal. When a high achiever is paired with a low achiever, it is the high achiever who does most or all the talking. Without intending, Teacher В calls most on those who least need the practice and least on those who most need the practice.


Turn-N-Talk is very strong in simultaneous interaction. During Turn-N- Talk 50% of the class is talking at any one moment; during Group Discussion 25% of the class is talking at any one moment.

Written Responses: Group Problem-Solving

Teacher В gives a worksheet or problem to students in teams and instructs them to “solve it as a group.” Teacher В may encourage students to work together and to listen to everyone’s ideas but does not use structures that ensure individual accountability or equal participation.


Students gain from the work of others, but task completion is not dependent on participation by all. In fact, often in unstructured group work, a few students do most or even all the work while others take a free ride.


Students are not held individually accountable. Some can sit back and let others do most or even all the work.


Participation is usually quite unequal, especially when students differ in motivation and/or ability. Group work often leads to “hogs” and “logs.”


Group Work is strong in simultaneous interaction: If it is a pair project, 50% of the class is working at any time; if it is a group project, at least 25% of the class is working at any one moment.

It is important to note that, without intending, both Teacher A and Teacher В enhance the achievement gap. Why? Without intending they are structuring, so the high achievers are responding most. Teacher A calls most on the students who least need the practice and calls least on those students who most need the practice! Teacher В allows the high achievers in each pair or group to do most or even all the talking or most or even all of the work on the group project.

Teacher C: Cooperative Learning

Oral Responses: RallyRobin, Timed Pair Share

To elicit oral responses Teacher C has students talk with each other but uses carefully designed structures to ensure all four PIES principles are in place. To ensure equal participation and individual accountability, Teacher C usually structures using time or turns. As we have seen in RallyRobin, each student has the same number of turns; in Timed Pair Share, each student has the same amount of time to share. In groups of four for brief responses, Teacher C might do a RoundRobin. For longer responses, Teacher C might use a Timed RoundRobin in which each student is allotted the same amount of time.


Students gain from the ideas of their partner or teammates, and the structure cannot be completed unless each contributes.


Students are each accountable: Their teammates see or hear their contributions.


Time (for long responses) or turns (for brief responses) ensure equal participation.


Pair work maximizes active engagement: 50% of the class are talking at once; with oral responses in teams of four, 25% of the class are talking at any one time. Compare these high rates of simultaneity with TSQA, in which only 3% are talking at once.

Written Responses: Sage-N-Scribe, Continuous Simultaneous RoundTable

There are many true cooperative learning structures that have students respond in writing. Some are coupled with oral responses; others are a form of sustained silent writing.


For worksheet practice, Teacher C may use Sage-N-Scribe. In Sage-N- Scribe, partners take turns solving problems. The Sage verbalizes her/ his thinking, while the Scribe records. Scribes coach if necessary and praise their Sage when the problem is complete. Students switch roles for each new problem. Sage-N-Scribe can be used for content other than worksheets such as practicing correct athletic moves, adding the next step to a circuit board, or, for little ones, practicing tying one’s shoes.


In Continuous Simultaneous RoundTable, students each begin writing on their own piece of paper. At a signal by the teacher or timer, or when each has finished and put a thumb up, all students pass their paper to their teammate on their left. All students then add their response to the paper they received, and the process continues without students talking. The papers may go around the group a number of times. The content can be team stories, drawings, or solving a problem on one of the four related worksheets. Sometimes, Continuous Simultaneous RoundTable is used to create four lists. For example, each paper has the name of a character from a book or story, or the name of a person from history. Each time the paper is passed, students add one adjective to describe the character. Similarly, each paper might have the name of a planet in the solar system, and students add facts they know about each planet.


In Sage-N-Scribe, the skill of the Sage is passed along to the Scribe and coaching by the Scribe improves the performance and learning of the Sage. Task completion depends on both students performing their roles. Similarly, in Continuous Simultaneous RoundTable all contribute and students view and learn from the contributions of their teammates.


Each must perform in front of their partner (Sage-N-Scribe) or teammates (Continuous Simultaneous RoundTable).


Turns equalize participation in both structures.


One hundred percent of the students are performing at once in Sage-N-Scribe (one describing what to write; the other writing). Similarly, 100% of the students are performing at any one time in Continuous Simultaneous Round- Table because at any moment each is writing on the paper before them.

By examining Teachers A, B, and C, we see that classrooms can be structured differently. By performing a PIES analysis on the structures teachers use, we find only Teacher C, who uses true cooperative learning structures, implements the PIES principles. The underlying premise of the Structural Approach is that cooperative learning is most effective for engaging all students and boosting student learning when PIES are in place. The use of structures facilitates the consistent implementation of the powerful PIES principles.

Teacher Training in the Structural Approach

Because the Structural Approach to cooperative learning is structure-based rather than lesson-based, teacher training in the Structural Approach is quite different from other approaches to cooperative learning (Kagan, 1998, 2001c). Teachers experience and practice the steps of structures and then are coached not on their cooperative learning lessons but rather on individual structures. This unique coaching model, called Kagan Coaching (Kagan, 2006c), developed by Laurie Kagan, eliminates the traditional pre- and post-coaching conference sessions; it is laser focused on a single structure in the moment of teaching.

Kagan Trainers

Kagan trainers undergo an extraordinarily rigorous preparation to become certified. Almost all trainers begin by using Kagan Structures as a fulltime teacher for years. There are two programs for becoming a certified Kagan Trainer: the School Trainer Program and the Kagan Associate Trainer Program. Laurie Kagan developed both programs, along with their associated lesson plans and PowerPoint slides.

Kagan School Trainer Program

The first step in becoming a certified Kagan School Trainer is to attend the Kagan five-day cooperative learning training. Following the basic training, prospective trainers must use the training full-time in their classroom for a minimum of one year, practicing the structures. They are also encouraged to practice the structures in classrooms of different grade levels and with different content. Following their year of practice, prospective trainers apply for the School Trainer Program. Part of the application requires applicants to submit a video of themselves using structures. Not all applicants who submit a video are accepted. If accepted, they enter the School Trainer Program, which, when completed, certifies them to train Kagan Structures, but in their own school only.

Kagan Associate Trainer Program

Those who wish to become a certified Kagan Associate Trainer take steps in addition to those taken by the school trainers. They submit a two- part video showing themselves using Kagan Structures with students and training teachers in the steps of a Kagan Structure. If accepted, the prospective trainer attends a personalized mock training, with a certified Kagan Trainer. The next step is an intensive train the trainer workshop that has been affectionately called “Kagan Boot Camp.” At Boot Camp, prospective trainers learn how to teach Kagan Cooperative Learning to educators. If the trainer passes the rigorous Boot Camp, they provide their first training under supervision of a senior Kagan Certified Trainer. If that goes well, they then become certified to conduct Kagan trainings.

For both the School Trainers and the Associate Trainers there are updates at which trainers learn and practice the latest improvements in the Kagan Cooperative Learning workshop. Different trainers are certified to offer different workshops. Kagan Professional Development offers 32 distinct workshops; the workshops are offered in one-day to five-day formats.

One reason Kagan training of trainers is so rigorous and scripted is that we conduct a great number of workshops and a school or district may choose to have a multi-day workshop on any topic with days between sessions. A school may have a different trainer on day 1 than on day 2, so it is extremely important that day 2 trainers know exactly what was trained on day 1. Another reason Kagan training is so tightly scripted is that there is a very tight workshop alignment. That is, in each of the 32 Kagan workshops, participants learn structures not taught in other workshops, so a participant can take workshop after workshop, being assured they will learn not just new content but also new structures. A few of the many workshops offered by Kagan are Kagan Cooperative Learning,

Brain-Friendly Teaching, Emotion-Friendly Teaching, and Win-Win Discipline. Kagan offers workshops applying the structural approach to specific areas of the curriculum (e.g., high school math, STEM, elementary social studies), to students with specific needs (e.g., high-risk students, disruptive students), and to specific educational approaches (e.g., multiple intelligences, Brain-Friendly Teaching).

Kagan Professional Development now has 17 full-time staff trainers and 51 part-time Associate Trainers in the United States. In addition, there are 87 International Certified Trainers who work in over 14 countries. The Kagan Cooperative Learning workshops and resources have been translated into a dozen different languages.


The primary tools for teacher training in the Structural Approach are workshops for teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators. Kagan offers one-day, two-day, five-day workshops in a variety of formats and venues. In addition to single school and district-wide workshops, Kagan offers US tours as well as summer and winter academies. Kagan offers approximately 50 US tours a year. The workshops cover a wide range of content-specific and grade-level specific topics, always with a focus on how to use Kagan Structures to make curriculum more engaging. Over the past eight years in the United States, Kagan has provided an average of 1,765 training days a year, reaching an average of 58,628 teachers who teach over five million students per year. In addition, Kagan Professional Development has provided workshops in 47 countries.


Coaching in the Structural Approach is conducted using a distinct model of coaching called Kagan Coaching developed by Laurie Kagan. Teachers are coached in real-time during brief structure-based sessions. Just as the football coach does not wait until the game is over to give his players feedback, Kagan Coaches give teachers feedback as they teach, allowing immediate practice of improved teaching. Because coaching sessions focus on only one structure, Kagan Coaches can see an average of 15 teachers a day. This efficiency has allowed Kagan Professional Development to coach more than 4,000 teachers a year for the last nine years in the United States. Kagan Coaching is used also in the countries in which Kagan has certified Kagan trainers. The model allows site-empowerment because principals and instructional leaders accompany the coach and debrief after each coaching session, learning the essential elements of Kagan Structures and Kagan Coaching.

An article describing how Kagan Coaching differs from traditional coaching includes Figure 5.5 (Kagan, 2006c):

Traditional versus Kagan Coaching™

Figure 5.5 Traditional versus Kagan Coaching™

Teacher Resources

Because Kagan Structures are used at all grades in all academic content, there is a very wide range of teacher resources available.


To support teachers in implementation of Kagan Structures, Kagan Publishing offers general theory and method books, grade-level and content- specific books, as well as structure-specific books. To support administrators, Kagan offers Co-op Meetings, a very comprehensive binder on how to set up and manage faculty meetings using Kagan Structures. Kagan Publishing offers 131 books, 83 of which have been translated into different languages.

Cooperative Learning Support Resources

Kagan Publishing also offers a range of manipulatives and electronic resources to support cooperative learning. For example, ManageMats facilitate managing student teams by automatically assigning student numbers to teammates and student letters to shoulder and face partners. Software resources include student selectors (mechanical and electronic devices to efficiently choose who goes first in the team or pair), timers, and software for forming and reforming teams. Software, developed by Miguel Kagan, is available also to lead students through the steps of various structures in a game-like fashion. With Kagan Structure software, the teacher merely clicks to advance the class to each new step of a structure. Additional cooperative learning support resources include Learning Cubes, Learning Chips, dice, spinners, posters, flip charts, and learning kits.

What Does the Research Say?

Research indicates implementation of Kagan Structures results in a range of positive outcomes, including increased academic achievement, reduced high-low achievement gaps, reduced race-based achievement gaps, improved outcomes for students with disabilities, increased student satisfaction, increased time on task, decreased disruptive behaviors, increased prosocial behaviors, improved race relations, and decreased probability of school violence. Research supporting those outcomes is sampled in the following sections.

Increased Academic Achievement

Many schools report dramatic improvements in academic achievement following implementation of Kagan Structures. There are far too many of these studies to overview here.

There are far too many of these studies to overview here. Here, we focus on just a few illustrative studies.

An independent research team at the State University of New York (SUNY) published a series of research studies looking at, among other things, the academic achievement of students when traditional versus Kagan Structures were implemented (Haydon, Maheady, & Hunter, 2010; Maheady, Michielli-Pendl, Mallette, & Harper, 2002; Maheady, Michielli- Pendl, Harper, &c Mallette, 2006; Maheady, Mallete, Harper, & Sacca, 1991; McMillenet al., 2016).

Results indicated very strong improvements in achievement across all studies. The studies include students of different grade levels and in different academic content areas. A summary of effect sizes in the studies revealed a remarkable 0.92 effect size that translates into a 32-percentile gain. This is an effect size substantially larger than the effect size of 0.59 in a meta-analysis of a range of cooperative learning studies (Hattie, 2009). It is also somewhat larger than the effect size of 0.86 of cooperative learning studies meeting the criteria of being at the highest quality (Johnson & Johnson, 1989). See Figure 5.6: Academic achievement gains with Kagan Structures.

High School Chemistry

Implementing just one structure, Numbered Heads Together, in substitution for TSQA produced dramatic gains for struggling learners in high school chemistry. The SUNY team used an ABAB design within a single chemistry

Academic achievement gains with Kagan Structures

Figure 5.6 Academic achievement gains with Kagan Structures

class to determine the impact of switching between TSQA to Numbered Heads Together (McMillen et al., 2016). Students in the class were performing very poorly: Their baseline using traditional methods to review their chemistry content was a below passing average of 53% on weekly quizzes. When the teacher switched to Numbered Heads Together to review the content, achievement jumped to an average of 75%. When the teacher returned to traditional TSQA, achievement decreased to 59%. Finally, when once again the teacher used the Kagan Structure, achievement accelerated to 72%.

High School Algebra

At Lehigh Senior High School teachers were frustrated at the performance of their students in algebra. The algebra teachers formed a professional learning community and decided to increase engagement. They took the five-day Kagan Cooperative Learning workshop and implemented the structures in Algebra classes.

Kagan provided the tools we needed—classbuilding and teambuilding activities to change the culture of the classroom to one that was trusting, a culture where students were comfortable interacting. Kagan Structures gave them the tools to make learning accountable and interactive. Algebra classrooms transformed from ones that reluctant math students dreaded to ones that they looked forward to attending. Students became learners and teachers among their peers. They were able to learn and grow from their interactions with each other. By the end of the year, we improved our algebra scores by 17%. This brought us from the bottom of our district performance to the top of the list. We have consistently remained at the top since, closing the achievement gap among our at-risk students.

(Corey, 2017)

School-wide Achievement

Dramatic increases in achievement following the implementation of Kagan Structures have been documented school-wide. In 2004, prior to the adoption of Kagan Structures at Mills Hill School in the United Kingdom only 30% of the Mills Hill learners scored above national averages in combined English and mathematics. Following the adoption of Kagan Structures school-wide, over 70% of the Mills Hill students scored above national averages (Lee, 2009).

During the period 2004 to 2008, Mills Hill School implemented the National Literacy and Numeracy lessons alongside the majority of UK primary schools. This included the curriculum entitlement and an exploration of teaching and learning approaches. It could be hypothesized that the national initiative could have been the lever for the changes in learner attainment. However, if this was true, we would expect other schools implementing the initiative to experience similar gains. This was clearly not the case:

The national strategies have had an impact for learners but Kagan Structures for Engagement has been the significant lever of change for Mills Hill. In 2004, our school was in the top 30% of school nationally. Our rate of improvement has outpaced other schools—we are now in the top 6% of schools. I attribute this significant and rapid rate of progress to the high impact Kagan has had for our learners.

—Darran Lee, Headteacher Mills Hill

Achievement Gains Across Content and Grade Levels

Research studies document significant achievement gains resulting from the implementation of Kagan Structures at almost every grade level, in many content areas, and with a range of populations. For example, gains have been documented for students with disabilities (Haydon et al., 2010), adults (Major & Robinette, 2004), and college students (Murie, 2004). The structures result in significant gains across grade levels and academic content. For example, research studies show significant gains in 4th grade writing (Kennedy, 2000); 5th grade math (Cline, 2007); 6th grade social studies (Dotson (2001); 6th grade science (Maheady et al. (2002); 9th grade science (McMillen et al., 2016); high school chemistry (Mele, 2001); high school journalism (Howard, 2006); and high school algebra (Van Werering, 2009). Further, Kagan Structures have produced substantial multi-year gains school-wide (Lee, 2009; Winters, 2013; McColgan, 2013).

Reduced Achievement Gaps

High-Low Achievement Gap Reduced

The SUNY studies reveal Kagan Structures reduce the achievement gap between high- and low-achieving students. For example, in one study when Traditional Q&A was used, far more students had failing grades than when Numbered Heads Together was implemented:

It is significant that no student had a failing average under the Numbered Heads Together condition, and six pupils had maintained averages above 90%. In contrast, when TSQA was used, six students had failing averages and only one child maintained an average exceeding 90%.

(Maheady et al., 1991)

Race Achievement Gap Reduced

Perhaps the study that most reveals how Kagan Structures reduce the achievement gap was conducted in a school district in Florida (Kagan, 2007). The district was performing lower than state averages on the state-mandated tests of basic achievement: the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). This lower-than-state-average achievement was predictable because the district was located in a lower-income area compared to state averages, and income level of parents is a strong predictor of achievement test performance.

When the district opened a new school in an area of the district that had lower income than district averages, they knew the state-mandated achievement scores would be lower than district averages unless something was done to boost achievement. They brought in Laurie Kagan to teach all of the teachers a range of Kagan Structures and to coach the teachers using Kagan Coaching. State-mandated testing at the end of the year revealed that compared to district averages, the Kagan School posted dramatic increases in both achievement and dramatic reductions in achievement gap for both math and reading. District percent proficient in math was 60% and reading 56%. In contrast, the Kagan School posted substantially higher in both math at 81% and reading at 79%. With regard to the black-white achievement gap the district had black students scoring 47% lower than white students in math and 43% lower in reading. In contrast, the Kagan School showed dramatically reduced race achievement gaps: math, 25%; reading, 27%. In sum, after only one year, the school located in a poorer area of the district, compared to district averages, scored dramatic increases in achievement and very substantial decreases in race-achievement gaps.

Progressive Reduction of Achievement Gap

As teachers increasingly integrate Kagan Structures into their everyday lessons, engagement and achievement increase, decreasing the achievement gap. This was illustrated dramatically in the classroom of Dana Hensley, a fifth-grade teacher at Bossier Elementary School (Hensley, 2016). At first Dana was using Kagan Structures as occasional activities:

It was not on a lesson-by-lesson basis; it was more of a drop everything and let’s do a Kagan Structure approach. It was not until I continued to notice more and more students being unsuccessful in science that I really stepped up my understanding of Kagan and began implementing structures into every lesson I taught in my science class. It was then that I began working smarter and not harder!

Quarter by quarter Dana began integrating more structures into her daily science lessons. As she did, the achievement gap in her class decreased.

Dana’s class went from 38% of the class failing at outset, to 17% in the next quarter, to 7% in the following quarter, to finally not a single student failing. Perhaps equally important was the shift in attitudes among students:

The more I added new structures, the more excited my students became about being in science class, and I heard more and more students saying, “Man it is already time to go; this class goes by so fast. Mrs. Hensley, what are we going to be doing tomorrow? Can we do this Kagan again?” It was nice for me to hear them so interested in learning.

Improved Outcomes for Students With Disabilities

Prior research has demonstrated that students with disabilities are better accepted and maintain stronger friendships with non-disabled students when mainstreamed into classrooms using cooperative learning compared to classrooms using traditional methods (Armstrong, Johnson, 8c Balow, 1981; Ballard et. al., 1977; Madden & Slavin, 1983). Research reveals that using a Kagan method dramatically increased achievement among students with disabilities (Haydon et ah, 2010). The study compared language arts achievement of seventh-grade students with disabilities using traditional and Kagan instructional strategies. Results: In the traditional class students averaged 42%; in the Kagan class students averaged 62%.

Increased Student Satisfaction

Across the SUNY studies, measures of student satisfaction indicated a strong preference for the Kagan Structures. In the high school chemistry study just described, over 80% of the students agreed that Kagan Structures:

  • • Better helped them learn
  • • Was fair for all
  • • Helped them get along better with others
  • • Should be used in other classes, and
  • • Other students thought them smarter!

Researchers adapted the Kagan Structure Spend-A-Buck to assess student satisfaction. Students were given play money and were asked to spend it on which instructional strategy they preferred, TSQA versus the Kagan Structure Numbered Heads Together. Results indicated very strong preference for the Kagan Structure: Students spent an average of 79 cents on TSQA and an average of $18.71 on the Kagan Structure (Maheady et al., 2006). That’s a ratio of 23.7 to 1 in favor of the Kagan Structure!

To test the attitude of students toward using Kagan Structures an elementary teacher, Danielle Gradone, administered a questionnaire to her students every two weeks for an eight-week study (Gradone, 2015). Mrs. Gradone used a wide range of Kagan Structures and included structures in every lesson. Following the eight weeks, students responded very favorably toward Kagan Structures on a questionnaire that included questions like “Structures help me communicate with other” and “Structures help me to participate more in class.” Eighty-nine percent of responses were favorable (strongly agree and agree) compared to 11% unfavorable (disagree and strongly disagree).

Increased Time on Task

Several of the SUNY studies of Kagan Structures measured time on task of students using Kagan Structures versus Traditional Q&A. In all cases, time on task was significantly greater when Kagan Structures were used. More time on task was consistent across grade levels and subject content areas including third-grade social studies (Mahedy et ah, 1991), sixth-grade science (Mahedy et ah, 2006), and seventh-grade language arts among students with disabilities (Haydon et ah, 2010). The greatest improvement occurred among students with disabilities: Using Traditional

Q&A, students were on task 63% of the time; using the Kagan Structure Numbered Heads Together the students were on task 97% of the time!

Decreased Disruptive Behaviors

As classroom teachers and whole schools implement Kagan Structures, they experience a remarkable decrease in disruptive behavior and discipline referrals. Years ago, when I first began teaching teachers how to use Kagan Structures, I frequently got a question from administrators and responded as follows:

Administrator: What is the new discipline program you are implementing?

My response: No. I don’t train teachers in discipline. I am simply teaching teachers cooperative learning structures.

Administrator: You must be training teachers in some new discipline program. Referrals for discipline have declined dramatically.

At that time, I made note of these conversations, but I filed it away mentally as I was focused on developing and training cooperative learning structures. Over the years, individual teachers have documented decreases in disruptive behavior in their own classes following the implementation of Kagan Structures. Further, principals and others have documented decreases in school-wide discipline problems when Kagan Structures are put in place.

Disruptive behaviors decrease dramatically when Kagan Structures are introduced. In some schools the number of discipline referrals is cut in half or more within a year of implementing Kagan Structures school-wide.

Drop in Elementary School Discipline Referrals

The dramatic impact of Kagan Structures in reducing discipline referrals is illustrated by what happened at Mills Hill Primary School in the United Kingdom (Lee, 2009). When Kagan Structures were introduced, the average number of discipline referrals per class each term was cut about in half. For several years prior to the institution of Kagan Structures, beginning in 2002, the school had recorded the number of discipline referrals to the headmaster (equivalent to the principal in US schools). The number of referrals prior to the introduction of Kagan Structures hovered between 25 and 30 per class each term. Headmaster Darran Lee indicated this was “a significant problem.” When Kagan Structures were introduced, the number of referrals dropped to about half pre-Kagan levels and maintained that much lower average for years. Darran Lee stated that within months Kagan Structures were having “a significant impact in reducing the number of behavior incidents across school.”

Drop in High School Discipline Referrals

Lehigh Senior High documented similar dramatic decreases in disruptive behavior following the implementation of Kagan Structures (Corey, 2017). At Lehigh, average student discipline referrals per class decreased 58% in one year following the implementation of Kagan Structures.

Progressive Decline of Discipline Problems

As Kagan Structures become part of the culture of the school, declines in disruptive behavior are progressive year after year. At Sage Elementary School, following the institution of Kagan Structures in the 2009-2010 school year, discipline referrals dropped each year (Kramer, 2014). Over a four-year period following implementing Kagan Structures, discipline referrals per 100 students dropped in half: Across the four years, discipline referrals decreased as follows: Year 1: 60.27; Year 2: 51.34; Year 3: 37.50; and Year 4: 27.45.

Why Do Structures Decrease Disruptive Behavior?

Decline in disruptive behaviors following the implementation of Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures can be attributed to many factors, including: [7] [8] [9] [10]

population. It is also a diverse campus with 3% Asian, 10% black, 56% Hispanic, 11% Native American, and 20% white. Under the direction of principal Michael Winters, Madison Camelview implemented Kagan Structures school-wide (Winters, 2015):

The implementation of Kagan had a dramatically positive impact on student behavior. With full Kagan implementation, negative behaviors decreased while positive referrals skyrocketed. Students received discipline referrals for typical behaviors disrupting the educational environment and/or process. Students earned positive referrals for positive behaviors. Here are some behaviors for which students typically earned a positive referral:

  • • Finding money on campus and turning it in
  • • Helping a friend who dropped his/her books
  • • Picking up trash without being asked
  • • Helping to clean the cafeteria without being asked
  • • Holding a door for a teacher whose hands were full
  • • Being an excellent coach to a partner or team

Within three years, positive referrals more than tripled (from 75 to 280), and discipline referrals were reduced to a fourth of what they were (from 200 to 48).

Disruptions Down, Social Skills Up

Stacey Magnesio conducted a study of the impact of Kagan Structures on disruptive and positive behaviors in her fourth-grade class (Magnesio 8c Davis, 2010). She had been having serious problems with disruptive behavior and decided to institute three Kagan Structures: RoundRobin, RallyCoach, and Quiz-Quiz-Trade. She plotted the number of disruptive behaviors per student each week using the ABCD Tally Chart (Kagan, Kyle, & Scott, 2004). The ABCD Tally Chart records aggression, breaking the rules, confrontations, and disengagement for each student. Frequency of disruptive behaviors declined week after week when Stacey introduced Kagan Structures. Frequency of disruptive behaviors decreased each week: Week 1: 83; Week 2: 63; Week 3: 51; Week 4: 32; Week 5: 19; Week 6: 7.

To determine if this decline in disruptive behavior was associated with an increase in positive behaviors, Stacey used five-minute time sample observations of selected students, recording incidents of listening attentively, praising others, respecting differences, staying on task, and taking turns. The frequency of positive behaviors in fact increased dramatically as incidents of disruptive behaviors declined. Week 1 positive behaviors averaged about three per student. By Week 3 they averaged around 7 per student. By Week 6 students averaged 12 positive behaviors.

Mrs. Magnesio noted the decline in the need to deal with disruptive behavior freed up time to focus on academics:

This made a powerful impact on my classroom. Not only were the students getting better at working together as the weeks went by, I was able to spend more time teaching and less time lecturing my students about being team players and working together.

Progressive Improvement of Positive Behaviors

Positive behaviors become the norm as Kagan Structures are implemented school-wide. This was revealed at Cheatham Elementary School (Winters, 2013). The school plotted a number of positive referrals for unrequested positive behaviors from 2007 to 2011 using the same method described in the Camelview study.

Following the implementation of Kagan Structures school-wide, positive referrals increased each year and had skyrocketed from only 46 in the 2007-2008 school year to 475 three years later in 2010-2011—more than ten times increase!

The positive behavior of students was noticeable to outside visitors:

We would also hear a great deal of praise from outside visitors. Literally every outside visitor, including district office staff, would comment on how polite and well-mannered our students were. At first this surprised me because dealing with the behavior issues on a day-to-day basis I didn’t always see that, but they did. The positive behavior became the expectation and the norm.

(Winters, 2013)

Improved Race Relations

As a professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside, I developed the Riverside Cooperative Learning Project, a multi-year project to train student teachers in cooperative learning methods and to assess the impact of cooperative learning. One question we addressed was the impact of cooperative learning on race relations (Kagan, Zahn, Widaman, Schwarzwald, 8c Tyrell, 1985; Kagan, 2006b).

To test the impact of cooperative learning structures on race relations, 35 student teachers were randomly assigned to teach using either cooperative learning structures or traditional instructional strategies for six weeks. The student teachers taught approximately 900 students. The students were 66% white, 20% Mexican American, and 13% black, proportionally divided in the traditional and cooperative learning classes.

To assess the impact of cooperative learning on race relations among the students, we administered a measure of intimacy among students, the Interpersonal Relations Assessment Technique (IRAT). The IRAT has been validated on thousands of students; it is a unidimensional scale with high coefficients of reproducibility and scalability (Schwarzwald, & Cohen, 1982). It allows each student to indicate his or her willingness to engage in different intimacy behaviors with each of their classmates by writing a 1 or 0 under each intimacy item for each classmate. The behaviors vary in intensity of intimacy from sitting next to a student to inviting him or her home or telling secrets with that student. Five intimacy items were used. The items had predetermined Gutman properties chosen from 100 intimacy items, so agreement with a high-level intimacy item indicated agreement with all the less intimate items below it. For example, surprisingly, the Gutman analysis revealed that telling secrets with a classmate is a more intimate item than inviting the classmate home. That is, students willing to tell secrets with a classmate were also willing to invite that classmate home, but students willing to invite a classmate home might or might not be willing to tell secrets with that classmate. The items did not appear in intimacy order in the IRAT. In order of intimacy, the items were as follows:

  • • Sit next to him or her in class
  • • Loan him or her a pencil or book in class
  • • Invite him or her to your home
  • • Be his or her best friend
  • • Tell secrets to him or her

The IRAT was administered to all students in the traditional and cooperative learning classes. Results demonstrated that in only six weeks, race- relations were radically improved when cooperative learning structures were implemented. In classrooms taught with traditional instructional strategies, students increasingly self-segregated along race lines; in classrooms taught with cooperative learning methods, this self-segregation did not occur: friendship choices remained integrated. In the following sections, we present and discuss the results indicating that compared to traditional instructional strategies, cooperative learning reduces segregation.

Traditional Instruction Produced Racial Self-Segregation

Using traditional instructional strategies, with age, students progressively self-segregated. That is, students at grades 2-4 were color-blind with regard to friendship choices. They chose classmates of their own race only 5% more often than classmates of other races, a nonsignificant difference. In contrast, by grades 5-6, students chose friendships in part based on the race of the other; they chose their own-race classmates 26% more often than classmates of other races. Further, in the traditional classrooms students chose the highest levels of intimacy almost exclusively among students of their own race.

Cooperative Learning Instruction Produced Integration

In the classrooms using cooperative learning the picture was quite different. Race was not a significant predictor of friendship choices at both the younger and the older grades. That students choose their friendships without significant regard to race of the other indicates cooperative learning led to far greater integration of students along race lines.

The difference in self-segregation among students in the cooperative versus traditional classrooms was highly significant statistically, p < 0.0001. When traditional instruction was used, with increasing age students increasingly choose those of the same race as friends. In contrast, when cooperative learning was implemented, students didn’t use race as a basis for friendship choices; they chose in a more integrated way.

The observed difference between how students oriented to those of other races in cooperative versus traditional classrooms is best attributed to the difference in the instructional strategies used in those classrooms. There were no special race relations or anti-racism programs taught in the cooperative learning condition. The near eradication of racial discrimination in friendship choices was the result of students working cooperatively in mixed-race teams. As a result of working together cooperatively in mixed-race teams, cooperative learning virtually eliminated race-based friendship choices.

Take a moment and imagine how society would be different if all students throughout their time in school spent a substantial amount of class time learning in racially integrated teams which included occasional teambuilding activities.

This radical transformation of race relations in just six weeks by novice teachers is quite remarkable but understandable if we contrast social relations in traditional versus cooperative learning classrooms. In traditional classrooms students do not work together. Many do not even know the names of their classmates. They talk only with the teacher. They simply do not get to know each other. If you then ask students who they would like to sit next to or invite home, they have only the race of their fellow classmates upon which to decide. In contrast, in the cooperative learning classroom, which includes integrated student teams, teambuilding, and cooperative projects and learning tasks, students come to know each other as individuals, not merely as members of a racial group. Through teambuilding activities students get to know each other and appreciate individual differences. Cooperative projects and cooperative learning include mutual support activities, tutoring, coaching, praising, and celebrating. Students experience themselves as on the same side, working together to reach common goals. Through this process students get to know the humor, intellect, feelings, thoughts, and perspectives of their classmates. When then asked who they want to sit next to or invite home, they can decide based on knowing their classmates as individuals, not just as members of a racial group. In essence, cooperative learning makes possible the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamed of a time when students would relate to each other by the quality of their character, not the color of their skin. The ability of cooperative learning to eliminate self-segregation of students along race lines has extremely important implications for the future of race relations in society.

Decreased Probability of School Violence

Mass school shooting are on a rapid rise in the United States (Springer, 2018). There has been more than one school shooting a week in the first 20 weeks of 2018 in which someone was hurt or killed, not counting the shooter (Ahmed & Walker, 2018). Schools are spending billions of dollars attempting to mitigate the consequence. They are hiring armed guards, installing metal detectors, video surveillance, securing entrances and exits, and even installing bullet-proof rooms within classrooms. All of these efforts are reactive. To suggest a medical analogy, they are treatment-oriented rather than prevention-oriented. When a treatment orientation to polio was used, for years thousands of individuals a year became cripples or died. Following the adoption of a prevention orientation developed by Dr. Salk, polio has been almost completely eliminated.

Studies of the motivation of students who resort to extreme violence in schools combined with studies on the impact of cooperative learning suggest we can adopt a proactive prevention model to school violence and racially reduce the incidence of school shootings.

Two months after the Columbine tragedy in 1999, experts from the US Department of Education and the US Secret Service collaborated to study the “school shooter” phenomenon (Daniels, 2018). They were looking to discover something that was common to most shooters with the hope that shooters could be identified prior to their violent acts. At first, the attempt of the secret service to profile shooters was frustrating. They found most shooters were doing well in school, came from intact families, and were mostly white males. Further, the shooters had planned their attacks and broadcast their intentions. These initial findings provided

“no accurate or useful ‘profile’ of students who engaged in targeted school violence.”

Then emerged a critical finding: Most shooters had been rejected by their peers and had been bullied! This finding together with established outcomes of cooperative learning gives us the key to inoculating students against violence. We know that cooperative learning produces buddies rather than bullies. Cooperative experiences create a cooperative predisposition, which in turn predicts positive social relations and the absence of bullying and aggression (Choi, Johnson, &c Johnson, 2011).

I am reminded of the parable of two men standing by the edge of a fast-moving stream. A man is being washed downstream, struggling not to drown. The men rush in and save the man. While they are attending to the half-drowned man, another man is washed downstream, screaming for help. Again, they jump in and pull him out. While they are attending to this second victim a third man is washed down stream. This time, as one of the two rescuers runs to jump in to save the new victim, but the other man begins walking upstream. The one who is about to jump in the stream yells at his partner, “Aren’t you going to help?” His partner replies, “I am going to help. I am going to see who is pushing them in.”

In my view, to reduce the problem of school violence we need to walk upstream. We need to change the culture in schools so that students are not set against each other. We need to structure student interactions so that students adopt a cooperative social orientation. To the extent we do this, students will not want to put each other down, create in- and outgroups, attempt to gain status by besting someone else. Most importantly, students will not ostracize and bully their classmates. Being accepted rather than bullied, students will not experience rage and will not turn violent.

Many school shootings are the product of a massive, unintended training program in social orientation. Let’s examine how schools foster a social orientation that turns students against each other and leads them to put down, make fun of, bully, and outcast some individuals.

Massive, Unintended Training in Social Orientation

There are only three possible social orientations: against, alone, and with. Or to put it in other words, at any moment we can orient toward others in one of only three ways: We are competitive, individualistic, or cooperative.

Traditional instructional strategies, without intending and without many educators realizing it, on a consistent basis orient students competitively or individualistically. Students do not work with each other. This consistent orientation of students toward competition and individualism occurs year after year. Those social orientations become default orientations. Ultimately, our students adopt in life the social orientation they adopted year after year in school. Without intending traditional schooling is a massive training program in competitive and individualistic social orientations.

The consequence of this massive training program is seen when students leave school. If a person sees another needing help, and has a competitive social orientation, they have a secret smile to themselves, saying, “I am better than he is.” If a person sees another needing help and has an individualistic social orientation, they say to themselves, “That is not my problem; I need to take care of myself.” In contrast, if someone with a cooperative social orientation sees someone in need, they ask, “How can I help you?”

As simple as Kagan Structures are, they have the potential of correcting a very one-sided training program in social orientation. There are times competition is called for. There are times individualism is adaptive. But to make competition and individualism the default orientations of our students is not healthy for our students or for our society. We need to balance the diet. Kagan Structures are a simple way to balance competitive and individualistic orientations with a cooperative social orientation. When competitive and individualist orientations are no longer their default orientations, our students will be more likely to act cooperatively when that is adaptive. In the process of fostering a cooperative social orientation in our students, we make it a better world.

Why Do Structures Produce Gains?

How can we explain the dramatic gains structures produce in increasing achievement, increasing positive behaviors, and decreasing disruptive behaviors? Although PIES is not the whole story, it is much of the story. When we put Kagan Structures in place, we are putting in place four very powerful principles: Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal Participation, and Simultaneous Interaction. These four principles directly determine outcomes, and the outcomes they produce interact to further elicit additional positive gains.

Figure 5.7, “Kagan Structures yield gains,” illustrates how structures produce PIES and how in turn PIES produce academic, social, and psychological gains. After describing the direct paths between the PIES principles and the three types of gains, we examine how the gains in turn interact to accelerate each other.

Positive Interdependence

When students are on the same side and a gain for one produces a gain for another, they are motivated to encourage, tutor, coach, and praise

Kagan Structures yield gains

Figure 5.7 Kagan Structures yield gains

each other, which in turn leads to greater academic achievement. It also produces a “same-side” cooperative social orientation that improves social relations. Students develop positive social skills, social relations, and character virtues like caring, compassion, and responsibility to others. Further, students who like each other are less likely to fight, reducing discipline problems. Finally, positive interdependence among teammates and classmates produces a sense of belonging and safety as well as liking for school and class.

Individual Accountability

When students know they must perform and will be held accountable for their performance, their academic performance improves (Slavin, 1983). Individual accountability increases on-task behavior, and on-task students are less disruptive. When students must perform in cooperative learning groups they enhance their communication skills, and in answering questions posed by the teacher and teammates they develop thinking skills. When individual accountability is in place, the meta-communication to students is that your effort is what counts, supporting a growth mindset.

Equal Participation

By having the lower-achieving and shyer students participating just as much as the higher-achieving and more outgoing students, we increase the achievement of students who otherwise would be reluctant to participate. This decreases the achievement gap and increases overall achievement. As otherwise disengaged students see their efforts make a difference in increasing school achievement, they adopt a growth mindset. Further, improved achievement boosts self-esteem and social status. Students who are achieving more, feel better about themselves and are not marginalized in class. As students participate more equally in learning activities, they are less likely to be disruptive.

Simultaneous Interaction

Students who are more engaged achieve more and are less likely to be disruptive. The meta-communication to students when we call on a few students to respond is “some have something of value to share.” The metacommunication when simultaneous interaction has all students responding is “everyone has something of value to share.” This in turn increases self-esteem. Simultaneous interaction produces enhanced engagement of all students, increasing achievement, liking for class, school, and academic content. Enhanced engagement reduces discipline problems because engaged students are not disruptive.

Interactions Among Positive Outcomes

Teachers and administrators explaining the radically reduced discipline referrals that result from implementing Kagan Structures are consistent in their explanations: Greater engagement and improved social skills and relations leaves students less time for and less motivation for disruptions. They note also that teachers freed from dealing with discipline issues can focus more on academics. Thus, one positive outcome (fewer discipline problems) creates another positive outcome (enhanced achievement). The positive outcomes interact to reinforce each other.

There are a number of ways positive outcomes reinforce each other. To detail a few: As self-esteem, feeling of belonging and safety are increased, students are free to focus on academics, so achievement is enhanced. As interpersonal skills and liking for teammates and classmates are increased, students are more likely to encourage and tutor each other, increasing achievement. As achievement is increased, self-esteem is enhanced. There are implications for brain functioning: The sense of belonging and safety produced by positive interdependence puts the amygdala into a state of quiescence, freeing the prefrontal cortex to function more fully. This enhances the ability to think, problem-solve, and be creative. There are other interactions that could be spelled out, but what is clear is that we have a very synergistic set of processes in place once we implement the Kagan Structures, which put PIES in place.

How Can We Support This Instructional Revolution?

I have now presented keynotes and workshops in over 40 countries. In each country I have gone into classrooms to observe teaching and learning. I can say with confidence that worldwide the most common structure used by teachers to elicit student engagement is TSQA. As we have seen, TSQA violates the PIES principles and produces boredom and mind wandering more than engagement.

I have asked myself why teachers worldwide have so exclusively settled on a very inefficient instructional strategy. After studying the brain, I think I have an answer. Two brain processes combine to make TSQA so ubiquitous: mirror neurons and myelination.

Mirror Neurons

Mirror neurons explain how our brains fire as if we were doing the action or having the feeling that we observe in others. Our brains mimic the brains of people we observe. If we observe a disgusted face, the insula in our brain, which registers disgust, fires. If we watch someone pick up an object, the motor cortex in our brain fires as if we were picking up that object. Athletes improve by watching videos of outstanding performances by great athletes. Mirror neurons are the basis for empathy. They are how we know what others are feeling. What do mirror neurons have to do with why teachers call on one rather than engaging all students? The research on mirror neurons tells us that all of us went into training to become teachers when we first entered school. As we saw teachers using TSQA, our brains fired as if we were doing that.


Year after year as we were watching our teachers call on one student at a time, neural tracks were being formed. Our brains were firing as if we were doing TSQA. Because we watched this structure year after year, those neural tracks became highly myelinated. Myelin is a fatty substance that wraps around neural tracks that repeatedly fire, making them much more efficienr and harder to forget. Highly myelinated neural tracks can fire without conscious attention. We can do TSQA without much or any thought or planning.

That TSQA responses are so highly myelinated means the job of adopting Kagan Structures on a regular basis is very difficult. Using the structures on an occasional basis won’t do it; our brains will fall back into their default network. There is only one way to overcome highly myelinated habits: practice. This is why in training the Structural Approach we emphasize taking one structure and practicing it over and over until it is so highly myelinated that it becomes a default network in the brain. Our goal is to make structures highly myelinated neural tracks.

Thus, as effective and as simple as they are—after all, how hard is it to do a RallyRobin?—it is not easy to obtain widespread implementation of structures. Why? Teachers teach the way they were taught, and repetition of behaviors creates highly myelinated neural circuits that are difficult to overcome. It is much easier to learn a new habit than to unlearn an old habit. Many teachers complete their initial training in the Structural Approach to cooperative learning and are fully convinced the structures are a better way to teach. They know it is foolish to call on one if in the same amount of time they could call on everyone. Nevertheless, in spite of this knowledge, some continue to call on one. Cognitive knowledge does not overcome procedural knowledge. The only way to overcome a habit is to replace it with a stronger habit. So too is it with structures. Teachers need to practice a structure, say RallyRobin or Timed Pair Share, so often that it becomes a highly myelinated neural pathway, making it more natural to use that structure than TQSA. Eventually, teachers begin to use specific structure sequences often enough that those sequences become the basis for lessons.

When we first learn a new language, we have to think hard about vocabulary, sentence structure, verb-subject agreement, and so on. It is exhausting. But at some point, that semantic knowledge becomes procedural knowledge: Instead of knowing about the language, we know the language; we become fluent in the language. At that point we no longer think about the language, we think about what we have to say. So, too, is it with structures: With practice we become fluent in a structure, and at that point we no longer think about the structure, we think about what we want to teach.

My dream is that enough teachers become fluent in enough structures that when their students first become teachers, those students will teach the way they were taught—they will teach with structures!

Final Note

Structures are very simple. Yet they have a very profound impact. By implementing structures, we increase achievement; decrease the achievement gaps; increase satisfaction with school; make teaching and learning more joyful; foster the acquisition of social skills; improve social relations; improve race relations; reduce disruptive behaviors; and reduce the probability of school violence. In addition, perhaps most importantly, we foster in students a cooperative social orientation.

In short, as simple as they are, implementing structures promises to address the most important educational and societal issues facing the nation. There are no more important issues for our country than improving academic achievement, reducing educational inequalities, and improving race relations. Employers are demanding schools equip students with communication skills and teamwork skills to prepare them to take their place in the fast-changing, interdependent workplace of the 21st century. Those skills cannot be acquired when teachers have students working only alone or in competition. For success in the workplace and in life, our students need to adopt a cooperative orientation, not during an occasional lesson, but as the way we orient toward each other on an ongoing basis.


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Chapter 6

Student Team Learning and Success for All

  • [1] Teacher asks a question.
  • [2] Students put their heads together to determine their best answer.
  • [3] Teacher calls a student number.
  • [4] A student with that number responds.
  • [5] The teacher asks the class a question.
  • [6] The students who wish to answer raise their hands.
  • [7] Engaged students are less disruptive.
  • [8] Students acquiring social skills and improved social reactions are lessdisruptive.
  • [9] The structures are a management system that keeps students focused.
  • [10] Students enjoy class and content more and so are less inclined todisrupt class. Increased Prosocial Behaviors Inverse Relation: Disruptive versus Prosocial Behaviors There is an inverse relationship between disruptive behaviors and positivebehaviors. As students learn positive social skills and establish positivesocial relations, disruptive behaviors decline. This inverse relationship wasplotted at Madison Camelview Elementary School from 2011 to 2014. Madison Camelview Elementary School is a Title I school with 84% freeand reduced lunch, a 28% ELL population, and a 10% special education
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