Wondering if your students are engaged in classroom learning? Jim Knight has tips for teachers on how to collect behavioral student data to determine the level of student engagement.

Check out this conversation between instructional coaching expert Jim Knight and Edthena founder Adam Geller. The two discussed types of student engagement data that can inform how teachers adjust their instruction to best meet student needs.

Here’s an excerpt of the conversation, or scroll down for the full captioned video of Jim Knight’s 4 Ways to Collect Student Engagement Data.

Adam Geller- So we’ve been talking about data and how video can be a source of data for coaches about their coaching conversations, but I’m curious to talk about another type of data and how video can be a powerful tool for gathering that data. And that is student engagement data. So in your book, you kind of remind everyone that there are multiple types of engagement data that can be captured. There’s behavioral data, cognitive data, and emotional data. So cognitive, emotional, those are inside the student’s head that techniques to get it out of their head. But behavioral data that can be observed via video, it can be observed at arm’s length. So I’m curious, you know, table stakes should folks be thinking, “Yeah, I’m gonna capture behavioral data using video”?

Jim Knight- Yeah, I’ve got a couple thoughts, but great question. The first thing is, there are those who will say, “Look, I really don’t care about engagement, “although I care about a student learning.” And so I have a few thoughts in response to that. Of course, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do where you are. So maybe that’s the way people wanna go. But the first thing I’d say is that the reason why people drop out of school is usually engagement. If they don’t feel a connection with the school, they don’t feel engaged, they don’t feel safe. What I call emotional engagement’s critical, but part of emotional engagement is behavioral engagement. So to me, engagement is an equity issue. If our schools are for all students, we need to create places where kids feel like they belong, where they have a connection. And that’s why the first thing about engagement. The second thing is though, I can’t understand the book unless I read the book. So to me it’s kind of a no-brainer that you have to be engaged to learn. If I’m not listening, I’m not getting anything outta the activity. So I need to be looking at, if I want achievement, I need to have kids who are actually listening and engaged in the classroom. So there’s those two reasons why I think engagement is really critical. It’s equity issue and it’s also a fact that you can’t learn without that. So to me, it’s really important now that the thing is that all data is imperfect. And so there’s nothing that actually captures the the whole gestalt of child and school. So everything you measure is gonna have its imperfections and in particular that’s true of behavioral engagement. The trouble with behavioral engagement is that it’s not really telling you what’s going on inside the kid’s head. But the upside of behavioral engagement data is that it’s reliable. And so if you score it and I scored, or the teacher and I score it, we’ll probably get the same kind of results. And so that’s a helpful thing. And when you have a class that’s really unsettled in terms of engagement in the classroom, the kids are pretty off task or disruptive and the teacher’s really struggling because it’s pretty hard to have a classes outta control, then behavioral data is really important.

Adam Geller- So help us kind of, take us into the kind of use of video for understanding behavioral data because there’s multiple types of behavioral data that people can think about, you know, kind of categorizing if they’re gonna go in and try and kind of bucket what they’re seeing.

Jim Knight- Yeah, I sort of see four big areas. One of them is time on task. One of them is the number of disruptions. One of them is the student responses to questions. And one of them is instructional time. How much time is wasted? How much time is committed? Honestly, I don’t know the video is the best way to look at time on task. It’s kind of hard to see what the kids are doing through video. You can try it and it’ll give you a sort of a rough picture. And if time on task is about 50%, it’s gonna be helpful. But I think for, to have a coach in the classroom who’s really looking for that, it’s probably more effective than… Video might surface the issue, but in terms of monitoring progress and growth, you probably need a coach there to gather it. In my experience, time on task it’s a harder thing to get. But the other three, video is extremely important. So I like, for example, if you’re looking at responses to questions, to have the camera just focus on the students and have the teacher ask a question and then we see how do kids respond. And as the teacher over time develops a different set of questions and different ways of questioning, they can look at the student responses and see which different kids respond. How often do kids respond? What’s the depth of the responses on the part? How accurate and correct are the response? You don’t always want correct responses. You want kids to take some risks, but if there’s a significant number of incorrect responses, it’s pretty telling. So that’s really important. And in terms of disruptions, video’s gonna pull up pretty quickly how many kids are disruptive, how often they’re disruptive. The trouble with the disruption is it interferes with teaching and learning. And every time you have a disruption, you have to get back on track. And it also messes with the culture of the class in that it’s very clear that some kids are not doing the learning and they’re like, I have to kind of… If there’s too many kids not doing the learning, then the norm is to not do the learning. And I have to be counter-cultural to be a learner in that classroom. And so paying attention to disruptions is really important. And then just in terms of instructional time, keeping track of how much of the lesson was productive and how much of it was wasted. And so sometimes the amount of wasted time is pretty large and video will reveal that really clearly.

See more from Jim Knight here: Lounge Talks with Jim Knight

Watch the full video of Jim Knight’s 4 Ways to Collect Student Engagement Data below.