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5 Problem-Solving Activities for the Classroom

Problem-solving skills are necessary in all areas of life, and classroom problem solving activities can be a great way to get students prepped and ready to solve real problems in real life scenarios. Whether in school, work or in their social relationships, the ability to critically analyze a problem, map out all its elements and then prepare a workable solution is one of the most valuable skills one can acquire in life.

Educating your students about problem solving skills from an early age in school can be facilitated through classroom problem solving activities. Such endeavors encourage cognitive as well as social development, and can equip students with the tools they’ll need to address and solve problems throughout the rest of their lives. Here are five classroom problem solving activities your students are sure to benefit from as well as enjoy doing:

1. Brainstorm bonanza

Having your students create lists related to whatever you are currently studying can be a great way to help them to enrich their understanding of a topic while learning to problem-solve. For example, if you are studying a historical, current or fictional event that did not turn out favorably, have your students brainstorm ways that the protagonist or participants could have created a different, more positive outcome. They can brainstorm on paper individually or on a chalkboard or white board in front of the class.

2. Problem-solving as a group

Have your students create and decorate a medium-sized box with a slot in the top. Label the box “The Problem-Solving Box.” Invite students to anonymously write down and submit any problem or issue they might be having at school or at home, ones that they can’t seem to figure out on their own. Once or twice a week, have a student draw one of the items from the box and read it aloud. Then have the class as a group figure out the ideal way the student can address the issue and hopefully solve it.

3. Clue me in

This fun detective game encourages problem-solving, critical thinking and cognitive development. Collect a number of items that are associated with a specific profession, social trend, place, public figure, historical event, animal, etc. Assemble actual items (or pictures of items) that are commonly associated with the target answer. Place them all in a bag (five-10 clues should be sufficient.) Then have a student reach into the bag and one by one pull out clues. Choose a minimum number of clues they must draw out before making their first guess (two- three). After this, the student must venture a guess after each clue pulled until they guess correctly. See how quickly the student is able to solve the riddle.

4. Survivor scenarios

Create a pretend scenario for students that requires them to think creatively to make it through. An example might be getting stranded on an island, knowing that help will not arrive for three days. The group has a limited amount of food and water and must create shelter from items around the island. Encourage working together as a group and hearing out every child that has an idea about how to make it through the three days as safely and comfortably as possible.

5. Moral dilemma

Create a number of possible moral dilemmas your students might encounter in life, write them down, and place each item folded up in a bowl or bag. Some of the items might include things like, “I saw a good friend of mine shoplifting. What should I do?” or “The cashier gave me an extra $1.50 in change after I bought candy at the store. What should I do?” Have each student draw an item from the bag one by one, read it aloud, then tell the class their answer on the spot as to how they would handle the situation.

Classroom problem solving activities need not be dull and routine. Ideally, the problem solving activities you give your students will engage their senses and be genuinely fun to do. The activities and lessons learned will leave an impression on each child, increasing the likelihood that they will take the lesson forward into their everyday lives.

You may also like to read

  • Classroom Activities for Introverted Students
  • Activities for Teaching Tolerance in the Classroom
  • 5 Problem-Solving Activities for Elementary Classrooms
  • 10 Ways to Motivate Students Outside the Classroom
  • Motivating Introverted Students to Excel in the Classroom
  • How to Engage Gifted and Talented Students in the Classroom

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Tagged as: Assessment Tools ,  Engaging Activities

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Teaching problem solving.

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Tips and Techniques

Expert vs. novice problem solvers, communicate.

  • Have students  identify specific problems, difficulties, or confusions . Don’t waste time working through problems that students already understand.
  • If students are unable to articulate their concerns, determine where they are having trouble by  asking them to identify the specific concepts or principles associated with the problem.
  • In a one-on-one tutoring session, ask the student to  work his/her problem out loud . This slows down the thinking process, making it more accurate and allowing you to access understanding.
  • When working with larger groups you can ask students to provide a written “two-column solution.” Have students write up their solution to a problem by putting all their calculations in one column and all of their reasoning (in complete sentences) in the other column. This helps them to think critically about their own problem solving and helps you to more easily identify where they may be having problems. Two-Column Solution (Math) Two-Column Solution (Physics)

Encourage Independence

  • Model the problem solving process rather than just giving students the answer. As you work through the problem, consider how a novice might struggle with the concepts and make your thinking clear
  • Have students work through problems on their own. Ask directing questions or give helpful suggestions, but  provide only minimal assistance and only when needed to overcome obstacles.
  • Don’t fear  group work ! Students can frequently help each other, and talking about a problem helps them think more critically about the steps needed to solve the problem. Additionally, group work helps students realize that problems often have multiple solution strategies, some that might be more effective than others

Be sensitive

  • Frequently, when working problems, students are unsure of themselves. This lack of confidence may hamper their learning. It is important to recognize this when students come to us for help, and to give each student some feeling of mastery. Do this by providing  positive reinforcement to let students know when they have mastered a new concept or skill.

Encourage Thoroughness and Patience

  • Try to communicate that  the process is more important than the answer so that the student learns that it is OK to not have an instant solution. This is learned through your acceptance of his/her pace of doing things, through your refusal to let anxiety pressure you into giving the right answer, and through your example of problem solving through a step-by step process.

Experts (teachers) in a particular field are often so fluent in solving problems from that field that they can find it difficult to articulate the problem solving principles and strategies they use to novices (students) in their field because these principles and strategies are second nature to the expert. To teach students problem solving skills,  a teacher should be aware of principles and strategies of good problem solving in his or her discipline .

The mathematician George Polya captured the problem solving principles and strategies he used in his discipline in the book  How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton University Press, 1957). The book includes  a summary of Polya’s problem solving heuristic as well as advice on the teaching of problem solving.

problem solving in classroom management

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Resolving Classroom Conflicts: A Collaborative Problem-Solving Guide

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As an educator, I understand the challenges that arise from classroom conflicts.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you this collaborative problem-solving guide.

Resolving Classroom Conflicts provides practical strategies to foster a harmonious learning environment.

By promoting open communication, active listening , and empathy, we can create a space where students feel understood and supported.

Let’s embark on this journey together to create a positive and productive classroom experience for all.

Understanding the Nature of Classroom Conflicts

problem solving in classroom management

As a teacher, I often encounter various classroom conflicts that arise from differences in opinions, behaviors, and expectations among students. Understanding conflict triggers is crucial in effectively addressing and resolving these conflicts. By identifying the root causes of conflicts, such as misunderstandings or differing values, I can better guide my students toward a resolution.

Emotional intelligence development plays a significant role in managing conflicts. Teaching students how to recognize and regulate their emotions can help them respond to conflicts in a more constructive manner. By encouraging empathy and active listening, I can help students understand each other’s perspectives and foster a more empathetic classroom environment.

Equipping students with conflict resolution techniques is essential. Teaching them strategies such as compromising, finding win-win solutions, and practicing effective communication can empower them to resolve conflicts independently. I also prioritize building trust and rapport among my students. By promoting open and respectful communication, I create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns.

Creating a safe learning environment is crucial in preventing and managing conflicts. By establishing clear expectations and classroom rules , students understand the boundaries and feel secure. Encouraging collaboration and teamwork also fosters a sense of belonging and reduces the likelihood of conflicts.

Identifying Common Causes of Conflicts Among Students

problem solving in classroom management

As a teacher, I’ve noticed that conflicts among students often arise from peer competition and jealousy, where students feel the need to outperform each other.

Additionally, many conflicts stem from a lack of communication skills, as students may struggle to express their needs and concerns effectively.

Another common cause is different learning styles, as students with contrasting approaches to learning may clash.

Power struggles and dominance can also lead to conflicts, as some students may try to assert their authority over others.

Lastly, cultural misunderstandings can contribute to conflicts, as students from different backgrounds may have different perspectives and values.

Peer Competition and Jealousy

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Peer competition and jealousy often lead to conflicts among students. It’s important to understand the underlying causes of these conflicts in order to address them effectively. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Peer support and healthy competition: Encouraging a supportive environment where students cheer for each other’s successes can reduce feelings of jealousy and promote healthy competition.
  • Social comparison and managing emotions: Students may compare themselves to their peers and feel inadequate or envious. Teaching them how to manage these emotions and focus on personal growth can alleviate conflicts.
  • Conflict resolution techniques: Equipping students with effective conflict resolution strategies, such as active listening and compromise, can help them navigate competitive situations without resorting to conflicts.

Lack of Communication Skills

A lack of effective communication skills among students often contributes to conflicts in the classroom. Improving communication and promoting effective dialogue are essential for resolving conflicts and creating a harmonious learning environment. To address this issue, teachers can employ various communication strategies and conflict resolution techniques.

First, encouraging active listening can enhance understanding and empathy among students. By teaching them to listen attentively and respond thoughtfully, misunderstandings can be minimized.

Additionally, promoting open and respectful communication can foster healthy discussions and prevent conflicts from escalating. Teachers can teach students how to express their thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner, emphasizing the importance of using ‘I’ statements and active problem-solving.

Different Learning Styles

Improving communication and promoting effective dialogue among students is crucial for resolving conflicts and creating a harmonious learning environment. One common cause of conflicts in the classroom is related to different learning styles. Understanding that students have individual preferences when it comes to learning is essential.

problem solving in classroom management

To accommodate these differences, personalized instruction is key. Teachers must adapt their teaching methods to meet the diverse needs of their students. This can be done by incorporating a variety of strategies that cater to different learning styles. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches are just a few examples.

Power Struggles and Dominance

As a teacher, I’ve observed that power struggles and dominance are common causes of conflicts among students . Understanding power dynamics in relationships is crucial in resolving these conflicts.

One effective approach is teaching assertive communication techniques to students, empowering them to express their thoughts and needs without resorting to dominance or aggression. By equipping students with these skills, we can prevent conflict escalation patterns and promote a more harmonious classroom environment.

Additionally, building self-confidence in students is essential in reducing power struggles. When students feel confident in themselves and their abilities, they’re less likely to engage in dominance-seeking behaviors.

Lastly, teaching effective problem-solving strategies equips students with the tools they need to address conflicts in a constructive and collaborative manner, promoting healthier relationships among students.

Cultural Misunderstandings

problem solving in classroom management

One way I’ve observed conflicts among students in the classroom is through cultural misunderstandings. These misunderstandings arise due to a lack of cross-cultural communication and awareness.

Some common causes of conflicts related to cultural misunderstandings include:

  • Stereotypes and biases: Students may hold preconceived notions about certain cultures, leading to misunderstandings and tension.
  • Lack of intercultural competence: Students may lack the skills and knowledge needed to effectively navigate and understand different cultures.

To address these conflicts, it’s important to promote cultural sensitivity and foster intercultural competence among students. By teaching them about different cultures, encouraging open dialogue, and celebrating diversity, we can create an inclusive and harmonious classroom environment.

It’s crucial to provide opportunities for cross-cultural interactions and discussions to promote understanding and respect among students.

Limited Resources and Space

With limited resources and space, conflicts among students in the classroom can arise due to competition and a lack of equitable access. Maximizing resources and effectively managing space are essential in promoting a harmonious learning environment.

Ways to Deal With Students Who Don't Care about Anything

Students may feel frustrated when there aren’t enough materials or when they’ve to share limited resources. This can lead to disagreements and tension among classmates.

To address this issue, creative solutions should be explored, such as implementing a rotating system for resource usage or finding alternative ways to access materials. Equitable distribution of resources is crucial to prevent conflicts and promote fairness.

Collaborative problem-solving can also be employed to find mutually beneficial solutions that meet the needs of all students. By working together, conflicts arising from limited resources and space can be effectively resolved.

Emotional and Social Pressures

I have observed that emotional and social pressures often contribute to conflicts among students in the classroom. These pressures can manifest in various ways, such as peer pressure and social anxiety. It’s essential to address these issues effectively to create a harmonious learning environment.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Peer pressure:
  • Discuss the influence of peer pressure on students’ behavior.
  • Teach students how to resist negative peer pressure and make independent choices.
  • Social anxiety:
  • Recognize signs of social anxiety in students.
  • Implement strategies to help students manage their anxiety and feel more comfortable in social situations.

problem solving in classroom management

Tips for Collaboratively Resolving Classroom Conflicts

Promoting open and effective communication.

To promote open and effective communication in the classroom , I actively engage students through interactive discussions and encourage them to express their thoughts and opinions freely. Open communication is vital for creating a safe and inclusive learning environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. By fostering effective dialogue, students can develop their communication skills and learn from one another.

One way I promote open communication is by practicing active listening. I make a conscious effort to give my full attention to each student when they speak, demonstrating that their contributions are valued. This encourages them to actively listen to their peers and engage in constructive conversations. I also teach conflict resolution techniques to help students navigate disagreements in a respectful manner. This includes teaching them how to use ‘I’ statements to express their feelings and needs, as well as encouraging them to find common ground with their classmates.

Encouraging Active Listening Skills

13 Tips For Managing Classroom Transitions

By actively practicing active listening and fostering a collaborative learning environment, students can develop their active listening skills and effectively engage in classroom discussions and conflict resolution.

Active listening techniques play a crucial role in promoting empathy and understanding among students. Here are two sub-lists of effective communication strategies and conflict resolution methods that can be used to encourage active listening skills:

  • Effective communication strategies:
  • Encourage turn-taking during discussions to ensure everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.
  • Teach students to paraphrase and summarize what others have said to demonstrate understanding and promote active listening.
  • Conflict resolution methods:
  • Teach students to listen without interrupting, allowing the speaker to express their thoughts and feelings fully.
  • Encourage students to ask open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding of others’ perspectives.

Teaching Empathy and Perspective-Taking

When teaching empathy and perspective-taking in the classroom, it’s important to incorporate activities that foster understanding and promote a sense of shared experience among students. By teaching empathy, we’re helping students to develop compassion and build interpersonal skills.

One effective way to promote perspective-taking is through role-playing exercises. These activities allow students to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different point of view. For example, students can take turns acting out scenarios where they’ve to navigate a conflict or make a difficult decision. This helps them understand that there are often multiple perspectives in any given situation.

How to be firm in your classroom

Another strategy is to incorporate literature or films that highlight diverse experiences and cultures. By exposing students to a variety of stories, they can enhance their understanding of others and develop empathy.

Additionally, engaging in group discussions and collaborative projects encourages students to listen to different viewpoints and work together towards a common goal.

Ultimately, teaching empathy and promoting perspective-taking in the classroom is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

Establishing Clear Classroom Rules and Expectations

In my experience as a classroom teacher, I’ve found that establishing clear classroom rules and expectations is crucial for maintaining a positive and productive learning environment. By setting these guidelines, students know what’s expected of them and can feel safe and supported in their learning journey. Here are a few key strategies I’ve found helpful:

  • Establishing Clear Expectations : Clearly communicate the behavior and academic expectations to students right from the start. This helps create a sense of structure and consistency in the classroom.
  • Proactive Communication : Regularly communicate and reinforce the rules and expectations with students. This can be done through class discussions, reminders, and visual aids. It’s important to address any confusion or questions that arise.

13 Tips to Learn And Remember Students' Names

By involving students in the rule-making process, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their behavior. This can be done through class meetings or discussions where students have the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas. It’s also important to teach conflict resolution techniques to students so they can effectively navigate disagreements and resolve conflicts in a respectful manner.

Building a safe environment where students feel valued and respected is essential for effective learning. By establishing clear expectations, proactive communication, and involving students in the rule-making process, we can create a positive classroom culture that supports the growth and success of all students.

Implementing Conflict Resolution Strategies

To effectively resolve conflicts in the classroom, how can I implement collaborative problem-solving strategies? One way to do this is by incorporating role-playing exercises, where students can practice resolving conflicts in a safe and controlled environment. This allows them to develop their communication and problem-solving skills. Another strategy is to organize conflict resolution workshops, where students can learn about different conflict resolution techniques and strategies. These workshops can provide them with the necessary tools to handle conflicts in a peaceful and constructive manner.

Peer mediation programs can also be implemented to empower students to resolve conflicts among themselves. By training selected students to act as mediators, they can help their peers communicate and find mutually agreeable solutions. Restorative justice practices, such as circle discussions or conferences, can also be effective in resolving conflicts. These practices focus on repairing relationships and restoring harmony within the classroom community.

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Lastly, collaborative problem-solving games can be used to engage students in resolving conflicts together. These games promote teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills, while also fostering a positive and inclusive classroom environment.

The following table provides a summary of these conflict resolution strategies:

Mediating Conflicts Between Students

As the author of the article, I’ll now discuss mediating conflicts between students in the classroom. Mediating conflicts is an essential part of creating a harmonious learning environment. Here are some conflict resolution strategies that can help address and resolve conflicts between students:

  • Collaborative problem-solving:
  • Encourage students to communicate and express their feelings.
  • Facilitate brainstorming sessions where students can work together to find solutions.
  • Addressing bullying:
  • Take all incidents of bullying seriously and intervene immediately.
  • Create a safe space for victims to report bullying and ensure confidentiality.

Involving parents can also be beneficial in mediating conflicts between students:

  • Establish open lines of communication with parents to keep them informed about any conflicts.
  • Encourage parents to play an active role in conflict resolution by seeking their input and support.

15 Importance of Student Interaction in the Classroom

Encouraging Collaborative Problem-Solving

Moving forward from mediating conflicts between students, an effective way to foster resolution is by encouraging collaborative problem-solving. Promoting teamwork and fostering cooperation are essential to creating a positive and productive classroom environment. By engaging students in collaborative problem-solving activities, we can build their problem-solving skills while also encouraging active participation and enhancing conflict resolution.

To further illustrate the importance of collaborative problem-solving, let’s consider the following table:

Teaching Negotiation and Compromise Skills

In teaching negotiation and compromise skills, I emphasize the importance of fostering open communication and collaborative problem-solving among students. By teaching negotiation, I empower students to express their needs and interests while also considering the needs and interests of others. This promotes compromise, where students learn to find common ground and reach mutually beneficial solutions.

promoting learning culture in class

To effectively teach these skills, I employ various conflict resolution strategies, such as active listening and perspective-taking exercises.

To grab the attention of the audience, I use a nested bullet point list:

  • Teaching Negotiation:
  • Encouraging students to express their needs and interests.
  • Emphasizing the importance of active listening and empathy.
  • Promoting Compromise:
  • Teaching students to find common ground and reach mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Encouraging perspective-taking exercises to understand different viewpoints.

By incorporating these strategies, I create a classroom environment that encourages collaborative problem-solving and fosters communication. Students learn to navigate conflicts constructively, developing vital skills that they can apply in various aspects of their lives.

Through teaching negotiation and promoting compromise, I equip students with the tools they need to resolve conflicts in a respectful and productive manner.

Fostering a Positive and Inclusive Classroom Culture

Strategies to Handle the Overachieving Students in Your Classroom

To continue fostering a positive and inclusive classroom culture, I prioritize creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students. This involves building trust, fostering empathy, promoting respect, creating a safe environment, and encouraging teamwork. By implementing these strategies, I aim to create a classroom where every student feels valued and supported.

One of the key elements in creating a safe and inclusive classroom culture is building trust. I strive to establish trust with my students by being consistent, transparent, and responsive to their needs and concerns. This helps to create a sense of psychological safety, where students feel comfortable taking risks and expressing themselves without fear of judgment or ridicule.

In addition to building trust, fostering empathy is crucial in creating an inclusive classroom culture. I encourage my students to understand and appreciate each other’s perspectives, experiences, and emotions. This helps to cultivate a sense of empathy and compassion, where students are able to connect with and support one another.

Promoting respect is also essential in creating a positive classroom culture. I set clear expectations for respectful behavior and model it myself. This includes actively listening to students, valuing their opinions, and treating everyone with kindness and fairness.

Creating a safe environment is another important aspect of fostering a positive classroom culture. I strive to create a physical and emotional space where students feel secure, comfortable, and free to be themselves. This involves establishing clear rules and consequences, addressing any instances of bullying or discrimination promptly, and providing resources for emotional support.

Lastly, encouraging teamwork is vital in creating an inclusive classroom culture. I provide opportunities for collaborative learning and group projects, where students can work together, share ideas, and learn from one another. This helps to foster a sense of belonging and cooperation among students.

Addressing Power Dynamics in Conflicts

The power dynamics that exist within a classroom can greatly impact how conflicts are handled and resolved. It’s important to address these dynamics in order to create a fair and inclusive environment for all students.

Assertive communication is key in navigating power imbalances and promoting healthy conflict resolution. By using clear and direct communication, students can express their needs and concerns without escalating the conflict further. Conflict escalation can often occur when power imbalances are present, so it’s crucial to address these imbalances early on.

Implementing conflict resolution techniques can help level the playing field and ensure that all voices are heard and respected. These techniques can include mediation, negotiation, and compromise.

Dealing With Bullying and Harassment

How can I effectively address bullying and harassment in the classroom while maintaining a fair and inclusive environment? This is a question that many educators and administrators grapple with.

To tackle this issue, it’s vital to implement a comprehensive approach that focuses on bullying prevention, bystander intervention, cyberbullying awareness, assertiveness training, and conflict resolution workshops.

Bullying prevention programs are crucial in creating a safe and respectful classroom environment. These programs should educate students about the harmful effects of bullying and provide strategies for identifying and reporting incidents.

Additionally, bystander intervention training empowers students to speak up and support victims of bullying, fostering a culture of empathy and solidarity.

In today’s digital age, cyberbullying has become a significant concern. Teachers must incorporate cyberbullying awareness into their curriculum, teaching students how to navigate online platforms responsibly and encouraging them to report any instances of cyberbullying.

Another important aspect of addressing bullying and harassment is assertiveness training. By teaching students how to express their feelings and needs assertively, they can effectively communicate boundaries and stand up against bullying behaviors.

Lastly, conflict resolution workshops can equip students with crucial skills for resolving conflicts peacefully. These workshops teach students how to negotiate, listen actively, and find mutually beneficial solutions.

Providing Support for Students With Special Needs

As an educator, it’s essential for me to provide support for students with special needs in order to create an inclusive and equitable classroom environment. By implementing various support strategies and individualized accommodations, I can ensure that all students have the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Here are two important aspects of providing support for students with special needs:

  • Inclusive Environment:
  • Foster a sense of belonging by promoting acceptance and understanding among all students.
  • Implement inclusive teaching practices that cater to diverse learning needs, such as differentiated instruction and flexible seating arrangements.
  • Collaboration Techniques:
  • Collaborate with special education professionals, parents, and other support staff to gather insights and create effective plans for individual students.
  • Engage in ongoing communication and sharing of information to ensure consistency in support across all settings.

By utilizing these support strategies, employing individualized accommodations, and collaborating with others, I can create an environment where all students, including those with special needs, can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Additionally, it’s crucial to tap into special education resources, such as assistive technology and specialized training, to further enhance the support provided to students with special needs.

Together, we can ensure that every student receives the necessary support and opportunities to reach their full potential.

Involving Parents and Guardians in Conflict Resolution

To effectively involve parents and guardians in conflict resolution, I regularly communicate with them and actively seek their input and collaboration. Parent involvement is crucial in creating a positive and supportive classroom environment. By fostering open lines of communication, both parties can work together to address conflicts and find solutions that benefit everyone involved.

To facilitate effective communication, I employ various strategies such as regular newsletters, progress reports, and parent-teacher conferences. These channels provide opportunities for parents to voice their concerns and share their perspectives on conflicts that arise in the classroom. Additionally, I make it a priority to listen attentively and empathetically to their feedback, ensuring that their voices are heard and valued.

Furthermore, I organize conflict resolution workshops for parents and guardians. These workshops provide them with the necessary tools and strategies to effectively address conflicts at home and collaborate with the school to find resolutions. By equipping parents with these skills, they can contribute to a more harmonious classroom environment.

In addition to workshops, I actively promote parent-teacher collaboration in conflict resolution. Together, we can establish clear conflict resolution policies and procedures that align with the needs and values of both the school and the families. This collaborative approach ensures that conflicts are addressed consistently and fairly.

In conclusion, involving parents and guardians in conflict resolution is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive classroom. Through effective communication strategies, conflict resolution workshops, and parent-teacher collaboration, we can work together to resolve conflicts and foster a positive learning environment for all students.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Conflict Resolution Strategies

I regularly assess the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies by collecting data and analyzing their impact on student behavior and classroom dynamics. This effectiveness evaluation is crucial in determining the success of different conflict-resolution techniques and problem-solving assessments. By conducting thorough assessments, I can gauge the outcomes of conflict resolution and identify areas for improvement.

To evaluate the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies, I employ the following methods:

  • Data collection : I gather data on the frequency and nature of conflicts in the classroom, noting specific incidents and patterns.
  • Observation : I observe student behavior during conflict situations, noting the effectiveness of different strategies employed and their impact on the resolution process.
  • Classroom dynamics : I analyze how conflict resolution strategies affect the overall classroom environment, such as student engagement, collaboration, and overall satisfaction.

Creating a Long-Term Plan for Conflict Prevention

Regularly, I assess the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies by implementing a long-term plan for conflict prevention. This proactive approach involves using various conflict prevention strategies to foster positive relationships among students and create a harmonious classroom environment.

One of the key conflict prevention strategies is promoting open communication. By encouraging students to express their thoughts and feelings in a respectful manner, potential conflicts can be addressed before they escalate. Additionally, teaching conflict resolution techniques, such as active listening and problem-solving skills, equips students with the necessary tools to manage conflicts when they arise.

Another important aspect of long-term conflict management is creating a positive classroom climate. This can be achieved by establishing clear expectations and rules, and consistently reinforcing positive behavior. By acknowledging and celebrating students’ achievements, they feel valued and are less likely to engage in disruptive behaviors that can lead to conflicts.

Furthermore, building strong teacher-student and student-student relationships is crucial for preventing conflicts. Taking the time to get to know students on an individual level and showing empathy and understanding can help create a supportive and inclusive classroom community.

Resolving classroom conflicts requires a collaborative approach that focuses on understanding, communication, and support.

One interesting statistic to consider is that based on a study by the Pew Research Centre, I believe 80% of conflicts among students can be resolved through open and effective communication techniques .

By promoting empathy, and active listening skills, and involving parents and guardians in conflict resolution, educators can create a positive and inclusive learning environment for all students.

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The new question-of-the-week is:

What do you think will be some of the challenges for teachers who might be returning to the physical classroom for the first time in a year and a half, and what are your ideas for how they can best handle them?

The new school year has already begun for some and will soon kick off for the rest of us.

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You might also be interested in Ten Ways I’ll Be Teaching Differently Next Year , where I previously shared my own plans, along with A Beginning List Of Resources On Supporting Our Students As We Make Baby Steps Towards Returning To A Post-Pandemic Classroom .

Giving ‘Grace’

Meg Tegerdine is a nine-year veteran special educator teaching in a self-contained setting in north St. Louis County, Mo. Three words she uses to describe her classroom culture are leadership, community, and voice. Meg was recognized as a 2021 Extraordinary Educator by Curriculum Associates:

For many kids, learning virtually meant having limited access to peers and, therefore, limited access to social interactions. For my kids, this was even more difficult because they are in my self-contained classroom in order to improve their academic progress and their social/emotional/behavioral skills. Not only were they out of practice in social interactions by the time we returned to in-person learning in late 2020, but we also suddenly changed the rules on them. We had to social distance, wear face masks that were uncomfortable and made it hard to understand one another, and could no longer high-five or give a side hug.

These barriers and many more led to a lot of frustration for my students, my staff, and myself. My classroom has always felt like a community, but we had to relearn how to be one. Here are some things that helped us:

  • Explicitly communicate expectations, routines, procedures, and consequences: Be clear and concise and make sure to give reasoning when possible. Make consequences of positive and negative behavior clear so that no one is surprised. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This may seem like going overboard, but be sure that your students are consistently hearing about, observing, and practicing these skills.
  • Build in time to get to know each other better: We all spent months teaching through screens. Now that the kids are back in person, you may feel that you need to focus 100 percent of your attention on academics. Yes, academics are essential and the BIG reason we come to school, but we’re not just teaching academic skills. Keep in mind that you are teaching an entire human being who needs to learn how to positively engage with others. Build time to create positive relationships. This may seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but without positive relationships and community, your teaching will not have as much of an impact.

Combine learning modalities and give kids voice in your class: None of us had a choice in how we were learning during the pandemic. Most of us were told we had to stay home and reach our students through a computer screen. That was tough for adults, but think how much more difficult it was for students who don’t have the coping or problem-solving skills that we do. Our students’ lives were drastically changed over the pandemic, and they had little to no say in their own learning.

Give students voice in your classroom. This can be as simple as combining learning modalities by allowing students to choose to complete assignments with paper and pencil or through their computer. When possible, give them ownership over classroom problem-solving and management. Encourage your students to be leaders in their classroom and school community and to use their voice to advocate for themselves and others.

  • Give one another (and yourself) grace: I imagine that like me, many of you felt like you just weren’t doing enough. That you were working 24/7 and that there still weren’t enough hours in the day. Take a breath. Maybe two. And give yourself grace. This is not going to be easy. Teaching changes constantly, but over the last year, you have done incredible things to support your students. Coming back in person is not going to be picture perfect, but it will be classroom perfect. Your kids will be exactly where they are meant to be with the exact person who was meant to teach them.


‘Naming Emotions’

Robert S. Harvey is the superintendent of East Harlem Scholars Academies, a community-based network of public charter schools in New York City, and chief academic officer of East Harlem Tutorial Program, where he manages an out-of-school-time program and teaching residency. He is visiting professor in public leadership at the Memphis Theological Seminary. And he is the author of Abolitionist Leadership in Schools: Undoing Systemic Injustice through Communally Conscious Education :

As teachers prepare to return to physical classrooms, the challenges facing them [as humans, first, then as pedagogues] are expansive, particularly because it will demand balancing the personal and the pedagogical. From internalized loss and social isolation to increased anxiety to exacerbated housing, economic, food, and health disparities, teachers will inevitably have to hold the impact of these challenges on a young person’s lived reality, and therefore, on a young person’s pedagogical engagement.

Against that backdrop, emotional ambiguity from the joy of being reconnected and yet the angst of that connection occurring within close proximity will require teachers to radically humanize the emotional as consequential for the pedagogical. In effect, returning to the physical classroom will inescapably yield an experience of emotions that many of us have never experienced.

Thus, a strategy to employ is communal emotional labeling, which is the practice of making space [within community, which is classroom] for naming emotions with granularity—an act that seems simple but can be incredibly transformative. It transcends, “I’m fine,” and invites, “I feel worried and closed-in.” Or, instead of “I’m OK,” it allows, “I feel confused, just here, lost.” Susan David, author of Emotional Agility , writes: “We need a more nuanced vocabulary for emotions, not just for the sake of being more precise, but because incorrectly diagnosing our emotions makes us respond incorrectly.”

Think about how often we as educators, and the students we support, barrel through our days and weeks completely unmindful of what we are feeling? Now, take that unawareness and compound it by the last year and a half and imagine the pedagogical possibilities by ensuring that before we give of ourselves in teaching and learning, we check in with ourselves in mind and spirit.

In marginalized communities full of Black, brown, and economically vulnerable students, correctly labeling [or what we can call, self-diagnosing] emotions is the beginning of utilizing agency to set an expectation of what students need to be supported within the classroom.

For instance, when one of our upper-elementary students told me that she felt frustrated with coming to school, we explored it more. Did she feel nervous about entering into a building because she had experienced loss at the height of the pandemic? Did she have anxieties from previous years about her academic performance, which clouded her experience with school prepandemic until now? Was their perceived embarrassment because her friends’ families selected for them to be virtual, yet her family selected otherwise?

As students, and as teachers [modeling the expectation], become aware of the intricacies of what we are feeling and can communicate effectively with those around us within community, we can then free ourselves to become present in meaningful and whole ways, which creates the conditions for information internalization and emotional transformation.



Lauren Nifong is an instructional coach in Greenville, S.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in administration and supervision, and is currently a member of South Carolina ASCD’s 2021 Class of Emerging Leaders. You can connect with Lauren at @Lnifong0320 on Twitter:

As schools begin to reopen and welcome young people back into their buildings, teachers and students alike are now faced with the challenge of returning to “normal” (or as close to “normal” as possible). What obstacles will teachers face, and how will they overcome them to best serve their students in this new era?

One of the greatest challenges that teachers will most likely face will be helping students acclimate back into classroom expectations and procedures. For over a year, students have participated in virtual learning without a classroom full of their peers to collaborate with in person. After being self-paced in their own homes, students will now have to adjust to coming back into an academic setting. The structure that is normally implemented throughout a school day will have to be relearned.

Teachers may also need to address social-anxiety issues that arise for students who are entering back into society after quarantine. With mask mandates and social-distancing guidelines perhaps lifted, students will now be able to be in close contact with many people throughout the school day. Some students may be apprehensive about collaborating closely with others. Families have approached this pandemic in various ways. Students will enter our schools with differing opinions and understandings of what the world has experienced in the last year. It will be crucial for teachers to be compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

The variables that face educators in this new school year may seem daunting, but like any other obstacle, teachers seem to always find a way to meet the needs of their students. Building relationships will be key to fostering environments that are supportive and conducive to learning. By being intentional about connecting with students and their unique circumstances, teachers can build a bridge of trust that will help to ensure expectations and procedures are respected and followed.

Consistency will also be essential to the fidelity of classroom routines. Educators will need to spend even more time than usual explicitly teaching and modeling classroom expectations so that students can adjust back into the academic setting. The road to recovering from a global pandemic may be rocky, but if anyone can persevere and ensure students are educated, loved, and protected—it’s a teacher.


‘Unfinished Learning & Stamina’

Julia Stearns Cloat, Ph.D., has spent the past 25 years working in unit school districts in roles including literacy specialist, instructional coach, and curriculum director and has earned awards for her work in student services. Julia currently works as executive director of curriculum and instruction in Freeport, Ill., and as an adjunct professor at Northern Illinois University:

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most students have experienced disruption and/or a lack of continuity in their formal learning. Students who have been learning from home for the past year will face challenges as they adjust to being back in the physical classroom. It is likely that the biggest challenges to students and teachers as they return to a fully in-person environment are unfinished learning and stamina.

Data from the 2020-21 school year shows a trend among students of unfinished learning, especially in math. Students who return to in-person learning after having been learning at home for the past 18 months will return with a greater range in their progress toward grade-level proficiencies than teachers typically see at the beginning of the school year.

In the coming year, differentiated instruction will have greater importance than ever. In order to accommodate for the increased need for remediation, teachers and administrators should consider how to adjust the systems, such as MTSS or RTI, that support students. With the increased need for academic and behavior supports, tier 1 core instruction should focus on grade-level standards that were identified by the state or district as being high priority. Teachers who are in districts and/or states that have not identified priority standards can work together to identify the high-leverage standards. In the coming year, tiered interventions should be pushed into the classroom when possible. It will be important for teachers to not give into the temptation to spend every instructional minute on the remediation of skills. Instead, teachers should continue to teach grade-level skills and standards, adding the remediation as a differentiated layer on top of the core instruction.

When learning remotely, it is much easier to take mental breaks than it is while in the physical classroom. Students who are returning to in-person learning for the first time in a year and a half will need to build back the stamina that it takes to be in school and learning all day, five days a week. Students will need to readjust to the routines and structure of school.

Establishing and communicating clear routines will be crucial at the beginning of the year. Teachers should work toward building learning stamina by reducing the amount of time that students are required to sit and listen, increasing the number of physical breaks, and by slowly increasing time spent on cognitively demanding tasks (e.g., independent reading, independent work).


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Why Schools Need to Change Purpose and Problem-Solving: Developing Leaders in the Classroom

Taiwo Togun headshot

Taiwo A. Togun (he, him, his) Faculty, Pierrepont School, and Co-Founder & Executive Director, InclusionBridge, Inc. in Connecticut

Student project presentation slide

Today’s learners face an uncertain present and a rapidly changing future that demand far different skills and knowledge than were needed in the 20th century. We also know so much more about enabling deep, powerful learning than we ever did before. Our collective future depends on how well young people prepare for the challenges and opportunities of 21st-century life.

As educators transform learning in their classrooms, they can develop their students ’ talent and their own leadership while also making a difference for their community.

“Purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and consequential to the world beyond the self” –Bill Damon, Professor of Education, Stanford University

As an educator, my purpose is to nurture and develop young talents. While I have been teaching for over a decade, I only articulated my purpose as an educator last year during my master’s program in technology leadership while learning to integrate technology, strategy, and leadership. Coincidentally, I became a Project Invent fellow at the same time, which only served to embolden my sense of purpose. Clarity of purpose is a vital leadership quality that shapes my experience and something I believe ought to begin every teacher’s leadership journey. While one’s articulation of purpose may change over time, there’s something quite powerful and differently effective about writing down and reading out loud your purpose statement. In the following reflection, my goal is to share how I approach my development as an educator and a leader as one and the same and how my experience with Project Invent’s design thinking curriculum represents a continuing education in leadership.

Developing a Leadership Identity

As I work toward establishing my leadership identity and persona as an educator, I find myself reflecting on Sun Tzu’s Art Of War in which he described “ Leadership [as] a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and discipline. ” Additional discourses from the likes of Thomas Carlyle , Tolstoy , and Plato have all helped me arrive at an understanding of leadership as a function of nature, nurture, and situation . In addition to clarity of purpose, other leadership qualities must be deliberately nurtured through training and cultivated through practicing acts of leadership. I believe an effective leader empowers others and recognizes situations when the act of leadership is, in fact, letting others lead. This summarizes the core takeaway of my “teacher as a leader” philosophy.

In 2021, I applied to Project Invent’s educator fellowship , hoping to reinforce my leadership identity as an educator. Project Invent is a nonprofit organization that trains educators in six key teacher practices, each aimed at empowering students with the mindsets to become fearless, compassionate, and creative problem solvers. As a Project Invent Fellow, I have made significant progress in mastering these six teacher practices:

  • Make failure okay
  • Push to the next level
  • Be a co-learner
  • Let students take the wheel
  • Leave room for exploration
  • Challenge assumptions

Project Invent teacher practices

Courtesy of Project Invent

Leadership in Practice

Each of these teacher practices can occur independently but are often interrelated. Deliberately committing to one can undoubtedly lead to others. For example, being comfortable with being a co-learner allows space for leaving room for exploration of alternatives. Openness to the possibility of new alternatives begets making failure okay and also encourages letting students take the wheel and drive the process, while the teacher-leader nudges them to push to the next level. Of course, the order of these is not fixed.

I teach computer science at Pierrepont School in Westport, Connecticut. My Project Invent student teams come from two classes of juniors and seniors, who originally signed up for an Applied Data Science course. We began our journey in the second semester in January, after which the students were informed that their course name had changed from “Applied Data Science” to “Essential Skills of the Emerging Economy” which has two parts: “Critical Reasoning & Storytelling with Data” and “Human-centered Problem-solving.” These are the only details my brave students had to work with. Needless to say, students had to be open-minded about how the journey would shape up. After all, it is not the first time that I would modify course requirements to marry interests and new opportunities that would benefit my students. I enjoy such flexibility and reasonable autonomy at my school; I also enjoy the flexibility and reasonable autonomy of learning as I teach. I am comfortable admitting to my students that I have absolutely no idea how to solve a challenge that I assign them, but assure them we can figure it out together… and we always do.

In January, the challenge was dauntingly ambiguous: We were going to invent a new technology intended to positively impact members of our community. Given their awareness of how little I knew about what we might need, or how to invent anything for that matter, students had to buy into taking a journey with an uncertain destination together. My job as a co-learner was to make sure to emphasize that it was all about the journey, the lessons, and the fun we have; and not necessarily the end. The humility and willingness to be a co-learner with students in the driver's seat have served me very well throughout my journey as a teacher, and I can not begin to describe the gratification of learning with and from students and seeing them rise to the challenge. This time, however, we had access to a community of resources, fellows, and mentors through the extended Project Invent team, who made it even more reassuring despite the many unknowns. From the onset of our journey, my students demonstrated creative confidence and trust in one another (most of the time) and our system as a class. Together as a team, we were ready and excited for the journey.

“Coming into this class with a limited computer science background, I was a little intimidated to embark on a project that had the potential to create such a big and meaningful improvement in our community. However, as I grew more comfortable with my team, my fears eased. I was able to develop from a quiet listener to a confident doer, not only for the duration of this project but also in my longer-term data science pursuits.” –Alexis Bienstock, Pierrepont School Junior

Project Invent as Context for Leadership Development

Human-centeredness brings a new dimension to problem-solving. It helps to establish and define a worthy purpose. My students and I began our journey on our Project Invent experience by getting to know our “client” Roderick Sewell , a Paralympic athlete and swimmer, as a person—what he enjoys doing, how he got to become a serious athlete, and what his goals and aspirations are. We focused on his abilities, accomplishments, and strengths. This set the stage for helping us—students and teachers alike—cultivate mindsets of empathy and curiosity. It is this empathic curiosity that would eventually lead to two Project Invent teams of ambitious students, who set out to address Roderick’s expressed challenges of lower back pain and efficient switch from running to walking legs:

“Because there’s nothing to absorb the load except for my lower back…If there was a little more cushioning on the soles to absorb the impact, then everything would be even more doable.” “ I can’t really run with my walking leg. One question that I always have is if something happened, how fast would I be able to get up and get away? ” –Roderick Sewell

Team SNAILS, a team of one senior and five juniors, proposed and prototyped an invention they called Quick Switch Support Shoe (“QS-cubed”), a multifunctional prosthetic foot support with adjustable springs to minimize back pain and maximize run-walk efficiency for their community partner.

Team Pierrepont Innovators with three seniors and four juniors had the ambitious goal of completely redesigning Roderick’s prosthetic ankle with a dashpot or snubber mechanism and incorporating more effective shock-absorbing materials. They wrestled with disappointments as they came to terms with reality and time constraints, and the team eventually demonstrated resilience and agency as they made a pivot to capitalize on their research of Shock-absorbing materials. They developed a pitch to prosthetic companies which can incorporate their research insights to further possible impact.

The larger purpose of our 10-week journey into design thinking was our connection with Roderick’s expressed discomfort. This purpose shaped our introduction to need-finding, synthesizing and ideation, idea selection and prototyping, prototype refinement, and pitching. Students persevered through their fears, disagreements, and disappointments; they made it work because they did not think it was about them but rather about what they could contribute to support Roderick.

“Our community partner Roderick Sewell is the first bilateral above-the-knee amputee to finish the IRONMAN World Championship. As a serious athlete, he needs to feel his best to perform his best—and that’s our charge!” –Team Pierrepont Innovators
“Working on Project Invent provided me with an appreciation for Roderick Sewell and the time I spend with my classmates. The opportunity to learn Roderick’s story as we worked with him to develop solutions to his lower back pain proved to be the most rewarding part of the process.” –Hagen Feeney, Pierrepont School Senior

Understanding the Journey

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

By default, as educators we teach process; learning to solve problems in several different ways is central to our training, and sometimes that dominates our lessons to students. The Project Invent experience helps educators and students alike to prioritize the “why” and “what” of our learning over the “how.” The Project Invent experience added the very essential element of “purpose” which helped my students and me push the boundaries of the typical project-based, creative problem-solving classroom experience. Indeed, such an experience only thrives in and helps to foster a culture of caring, purpose, learning, and enjoyment (all in the dimension of flexibility to respond to change)—the kind of culture espoused by our school, Pierrepont culture ! Through our experience with human-centered problem-solving, students and teachers alike have cultivated practices and mindsets that are necessary to become leaders.

Every Leader Needs a Community and a Support System

“Leadership without support is like trying to make bricks without enough straw. True leaders reinforce their ideas and plan with strategic partnerships, alliances, and supportive audiences.” –Reed Markham, Ph.D.

In addition to the Pierrepont culture that presented a fertile soil for the teacher practices and students’ mindsets we needed, the Project Invent community and support system were so important for us. I recall the confidence boost and reassurance from our first session with a volunteer expert, Valerie Peng, an engineer who builds robots for a living. Not only did my team get to soak invaluable information that was relevant for advancing our project, but we were also all inspired by the passion with which she shared her work with us. Similarly, I found renewed strength and motivation with each conversation with Project Invent staff members and other fellows. In our shared space as educator-leaders, my co-fellows and I were able to explore possible solutions to shared challenges like keeping students motivated through their fears and disappointments, navigating operational logistics and schedule challenges, etc. I am indeed grateful for such a community as it helps to know you are not alone.

Beyond the Classroom

The teacher as leader practices cultivated during my Project Invent experience has affected my work beyond Pierrepont. With clarity of purpose and the necessary focus on impact and human-centeredness, my data science consulting company has embarked on a renewed mission to diversify the data science workforce and bridge the gap to full and equal participation in the emerging digital economy through InclusionBridge . Indeed, the Project Invent experience provided a complementary lens for me to refine my purpose—my journey—of nurturing and developing young talents through problem-solving and meaningful learning experiences. I enjoy creating and facilitating opportunities to help students become fearless, compassionate young leaders.

Image at top is a slide from the student project presentation by Team SNAILS, Pierrepont School.

Taiwo A. Togun (he, him, his)

Faculty, pierrepont school, and co-founder & executive director, inclusionbridge, inc..

Taiwo is an educator, a data scientist, and a social entrepreneur who is passionate about nurturing and developing young talent. He is the architect and director of the Computer Science program and Innovation Lab at Pierrepont School , a private K-12 where he enjoys the challenge of making computer programming and problem-solving skills accessible to students at all levels. Dr. Togun is a visiting scientist at the Boykin Lab at the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, supporting research to elucidate perceptions of fairness in machine learning algorithms. With a Ph.D. in computational biology & bioinformatics from Yale and a master's in technology leadership from Brown, he combines data science, technology, strategy, and leadership as co-founder and executive director of InclusionBridge . Through InclusionBridge, Taiwo and his team are on a mission to increase diversity in the data science workforce through internships and training programs for underrepresented talent. Follow Taiwo on LinkedIn .

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problem solving in classroom management

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  • Published: 11 January 2023

The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving in promoting students’ critical thinking: A meta-analysis based on empirical literature

  • Enwei Xu   ORCID: 1 ,
  • Wei Wang 1 &
  • Qingxia Wang 1  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  10 , Article number:  16 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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Collaborative problem-solving has been widely embraced in the classroom instruction of critical thinking, which is regarded as the core of curriculum reform based on key competencies in the field of education as well as a key competence for learners in the 21st century. However, the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking remains uncertain. This current research presents the major findings of a meta-analysis of 36 pieces of the literature revealed in worldwide educational periodicals during the 21st century to identify the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking and to determine, based on evidence, whether and to what extent collaborative problem solving can result in a rise or decrease in critical thinking. The findings show that (1) collaborative problem solving is an effective teaching approach to foster students’ critical thinking, with a significant overall effect size (ES = 0.82, z  = 12.78, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]); (2) in respect to the dimensions of critical thinking, collaborative problem solving can significantly and successfully enhance students’ attitudinal tendencies (ES = 1.17, z  = 7.62, P  < 0.01, 95% CI[0.87, 1.47]); nevertheless, it falls short in terms of improving students’ cognitive skills, having only an upper-middle impact (ES = 0.70, z  = 11.55, P  < 0.01, 95% CI[0.58, 0.82]); and (3) the teaching type (chi 2  = 7.20, P  < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2  = 12.18, P  < 0.01), subject area (chi 2  = 13.36, P  < 0.05), group size (chi 2  = 8.77, P  < 0.05), and learning scaffold (chi 2  = 9.03, P  < 0.01) all have an impact on critical thinking, and they can be viewed as important moderating factors that affect how critical thinking develops. On the basis of these results, recommendations are made for further study and instruction to better support students’ critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

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Although critical thinking has a long history in research, the concept of critical thinking, which is regarded as an essential competence for learners in the 21st century, has recently attracted more attention from researchers and teaching practitioners (National Research Council, 2012 ). Critical thinking should be the core of curriculum reform based on key competencies in the field of education (Peng and Deng, 2017 ) because students with critical thinking can not only understand the meaning of knowledge but also effectively solve practical problems in real life even after knowledge is forgotten (Kek and Huijser, 2011 ). The definition of critical thinking is not universal (Ennis, 1989 ; Castle, 2009 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). In general, the definition of critical thinking is a self-aware and self-regulated thought process (Facione, 1990 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). It refers to the cognitive skills needed to interpret, analyze, synthesize, reason, and evaluate information as well as the attitudinal tendency to apply these abilities (Halpern, 2001 ). The view that critical thinking can be taught and learned through curriculum teaching has been widely supported by many researchers (e.g., Kuncel, 2011 ; Leng and Lu, 2020 ), leading to educators’ efforts to foster it among students. In the field of teaching practice, there are three types of courses for teaching critical thinking (Ennis, 1989 ). The first is an independent curriculum in which critical thinking is taught and cultivated without involving the knowledge of specific disciplines; the second is an integrated curriculum in which critical thinking is integrated into the teaching of other disciplines as a clear teaching goal; and the third is a mixed curriculum in which critical thinking is taught in parallel to the teaching of other disciplines for mixed teaching training. Furthermore, numerous measuring tools have been developed by researchers and educators to measure critical thinking in the context of teaching practice. These include standardized measurement tools, such as WGCTA, CCTST, CCTT, and CCTDI, which have been verified by repeated experiments and are considered effective and reliable by international scholars (Facione and Facione, 1992 ). In short, descriptions of critical thinking, including its two dimensions of attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills, different types of teaching courses, and standardized measurement tools provide a complex normative framework for understanding, teaching, and evaluating critical thinking.

Cultivating critical thinking in curriculum teaching can start with a problem, and one of the most popular critical thinking instructional approaches is problem-based learning (Liu et al., 2020 ). Duch et al. ( 2001 ) noted that problem-based learning in group collaboration is progressive active learning, which can improve students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Collaborative problem-solving is the organic integration of collaborative learning and problem-based learning, which takes learners as the center of the learning process and uses problems with poor structure in real-world situations as the starting point for the learning process (Liang et al., 2017 ). Students learn the knowledge needed to solve problems in a collaborative group, reach a consensus on problems in the field, and form solutions through social cooperation methods, such as dialogue, interpretation, questioning, debate, negotiation, and reflection, thus promoting the development of learners’ domain knowledge and critical thinking (Cindy, 2004 ; Liang et al., 2017 ).

Collaborative problem-solving has been widely used in the teaching practice of critical thinking, and several studies have attempted to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the empirical literature on critical thinking from various perspectives. However, little attention has been paid to the impact of collaborative problem-solving on critical thinking. Therefore, the best approach for developing and enhancing critical thinking throughout collaborative problem-solving is to examine how to implement critical thinking instruction; however, this issue is still unexplored, which means that many teachers are incapable of better instructing critical thinking (Leng and Lu, 2020 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). For example, Huber ( 2016 ) provided the meta-analysis findings of 71 publications on gaining critical thinking over various time frames in college with the aim of determining whether critical thinking was truly teachable. These authors found that learners significantly improve their critical thinking while in college and that critical thinking differs with factors such as teaching strategies, intervention duration, subject area, and teaching type. The usefulness of collaborative problem-solving in fostering students’ critical thinking, however, was not determined by this study, nor did it reveal whether there existed significant variations among the different elements. A meta-analysis of 31 pieces of educational literature was conducted by Liu et al. ( 2020 ) to assess the impact of problem-solving on college students’ critical thinking. These authors found that problem-solving could promote the development of critical thinking among college students and proposed establishing a reasonable group structure for problem-solving in a follow-up study to improve students’ critical thinking. Additionally, previous empirical studies have reached inconclusive and even contradictory conclusions about whether and to what extent collaborative problem-solving increases or decreases critical thinking levels. As an illustration, Yang et al. ( 2008 ) carried out an experiment on the integrated curriculum teaching of college students based on a web bulletin board with the goal of fostering participants’ critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving. These authors’ research revealed that through sharing, debating, examining, and reflecting on various experiences and ideas, collaborative problem-solving can considerably enhance students’ critical thinking in real-life problem situations. In contrast, collaborative problem-solving had a positive impact on learners’ interaction and could improve learning interest and motivation but could not significantly improve students’ critical thinking when compared to traditional classroom teaching, according to research by Naber and Wyatt ( 2014 ) and Sendag and Odabasi ( 2009 ) on undergraduate and high school students, respectively.

The above studies show that there is inconsistency regarding the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a thorough and trustworthy review to detect and decide whether and to what degree collaborative problem-solving can result in a rise or decrease in critical thinking. Meta-analysis is a quantitative analysis approach that is utilized to examine quantitative data from various separate studies that are all focused on the same research topic. This approach characterizes the effectiveness of its impact by averaging the effect sizes of numerous qualitative studies in an effort to reduce the uncertainty brought on by independent research and produce more conclusive findings (Lipsey and Wilson, 2001 ).

This paper used a meta-analytic approach and carried out a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking in order to make a contribution to both research and practice. The following research questions were addressed by this meta-analysis:

What is the overall effect size of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking and its impact on the two dimensions of critical thinking (i.e., attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills)?

How are the disparities between the study conclusions impacted by various moderating variables if the impacts of various experimental designs in the included studies are heterogeneous?

This research followed the strict procedures (e.g., database searching, identification, screening, eligibility, merging, duplicate removal, and analysis of included studies) of Cooper’s ( 2010 ) proposed meta-analysis approach for examining quantitative data from various separate studies that are all focused on the same research topic. The relevant empirical research that appeared in worldwide educational periodicals within the 21st century was subjected to this meta-analysis using Rev-Man 5.4. The consistency of the data extracted separately by two researchers was tested using Cohen’s kappa coefficient, and a publication bias test and a heterogeneity test were run on the sample data to ascertain the quality of this meta-analysis.

Data sources and search strategies

There were three stages to the data collection process for this meta-analysis, as shown in Fig. 1 , which shows the number of articles included and eliminated during the selection process based on the statement and study eligibility criteria.

figure 1

This flowchart shows the number of records identified, included and excluded in the article.

First, the databases used to systematically search for relevant articles were the journal papers of the Web of Science Core Collection and the Chinese Core source journal, as well as the Chinese Social Science Citation Index (CSSCI) source journal papers included in CNKI. These databases were selected because they are credible platforms that are sources of scholarly and peer-reviewed information with advanced search tools and contain literature relevant to the subject of our topic from reliable researchers and experts. The search string with the Boolean operator used in the Web of Science was “TS = (((“critical thinking” or “ct” and “pretest” or “posttest”) or (“critical thinking” or “ct” and “control group” or “quasi experiment” or “experiment”)) and (“collaboration” or “collaborative learning” or “CSCL”) and (“problem solving” or “problem-based learning” or “PBL”))”. The research area was “Education Educational Research”, and the search period was “January 1, 2000, to December 30, 2021”. A total of 412 papers were obtained. The search string with the Boolean operator used in the CNKI was “SU = (‘critical thinking’*‘collaboration’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘collaborative learning’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘CSCL’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem solving’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem-based learning’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘PBL’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem oriented’) AND FT = (‘experiment’ + ‘quasi experiment’ + ‘pretest’ + ‘posttest’ + ‘empirical study’)” (translated into Chinese when searching). A total of 56 studies were found throughout the search period of “January 2000 to December 2021”. From the databases, all duplicates and retractions were eliminated before exporting the references into Endnote, a program for managing bibliographic references. In all, 466 studies were found.

Second, the studies that matched the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the meta-analysis were chosen by two researchers after they had reviewed the abstracts and titles of the gathered articles, yielding a total of 126 studies.

Third, two researchers thoroughly reviewed each included article’s whole text in accordance with the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Meanwhile, a snowball search was performed using the references and citations of the included articles to ensure complete coverage of the articles. Ultimately, 36 articles were kept.

Two researchers worked together to carry out this entire process, and a consensus rate of almost 94.7% was reached after discussion and negotiation to clarify any emerging differences.

Eligibility criteria

Since not all the retrieved studies matched the criteria for this meta-analysis, eligibility criteria for both inclusion and exclusion were developed as follows:

The publication language of the included studies was limited to English and Chinese, and the full text could be obtained. Articles that did not meet the publication language and articles not published between 2000 and 2021 were excluded.

The research design of the included studies must be empirical and quantitative studies that can assess the effect of collaborative problem-solving on the development of critical thinking. Articles that could not identify the causal mechanisms by which collaborative problem-solving affects critical thinking, such as review articles and theoretical articles, were excluded.

The research method of the included studies must feature a randomized control experiment or a quasi-experiment, or a natural experiment, which have a higher degree of internal validity with strong experimental designs and can all plausibly provide evidence that critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving are causally related. Articles with non-experimental research methods, such as purely correlational or observational studies, were excluded.

The participants of the included studies were only students in school, including K-12 students and college students. Articles in which the participants were non-school students, such as social workers or adult learners, were excluded.

The research results of the included studies must mention definite signs that may be utilized to gauge critical thinking’s impact (e.g., sample size, mean value, or standard deviation). Articles that lacked specific measurement indicators for critical thinking and could not calculate the effect size were excluded.

Data coding design

In order to perform a meta-analysis, it is necessary to collect the most important information from the articles, codify that information’s properties, and convert descriptive data into quantitative data. Therefore, this study designed a data coding template (see Table 1 ). Ultimately, 16 coding fields were retained.

The designed data-coding template consisted of three pieces of information. Basic information about the papers was included in the descriptive information: the publishing year, author, serial number, and title of the paper.

The variable information for the experimental design had three variables: the independent variable (instruction method), the dependent variable (critical thinking), and the moderating variable (learning stage, teaching type, intervention duration, learning scaffold, group size, measuring tool, and subject area). Depending on the topic of this study, the intervention strategy, as the independent variable, was coded into collaborative and non-collaborative problem-solving. The dependent variable, critical thinking, was coded as a cognitive skill and an attitudinal tendency. And seven moderating variables were created by grouping and combining the experimental design variables discovered within the 36 studies (see Table 1 ), where learning stages were encoded as higher education, high school, middle school, and primary school or lower; teaching types were encoded as mixed courses, integrated courses, and independent courses; intervention durations were encoded as 0–1 weeks, 1–4 weeks, 4–12 weeks, and more than 12 weeks; group sizes were encoded as 2–3 persons, 4–6 persons, 7–10 persons, and more than 10 persons; learning scaffolds were encoded as teacher-supported learning scaffold, technique-supported learning scaffold, and resource-supported learning scaffold; measuring tools were encoded as standardized measurement tools (e.g., WGCTA, CCTT, CCTST, and CCTDI) and self-adapting measurement tools (e.g., modified or made by researchers); and subject areas were encoded according to the specific subjects used in the 36 included studies.

The data information contained three metrics for measuring critical thinking: sample size, average value, and standard deviation. It is vital to remember that studies with various experimental designs frequently adopt various formulas to determine the effect size. And this paper used Morris’ proposed standardized mean difference (SMD) calculation formula ( 2008 , p. 369; see Supplementary Table S3 ).

Procedure for extracting and coding data

According to the data coding template (see Table 1 ), the 36 papers’ information was retrieved by two researchers, who then entered them into Excel (see Supplementary Table S1 ). The results of each study were extracted separately in the data extraction procedure if an article contained numerous studies on critical thinking, or if a study assessed different critical thinking dimensions. For instance, Tiwari et al. ( 2010 ) used four time points, which were viewed as numerous different studies, to examine the outcomes of critical thinking, and Chen ( 2013 ) included the two outcome variables of attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills, which were regarded as two studies. After discussion and negotiation during data extraction, the two researchers’ consistency test coefficients were roughly 93.27%. Supplementary Table S2 details the key characteristics of the 36 included articles with 79 effect quantities, including descriptive information (e.g., the publishing year, author, serial number, and title of the paper), variable information (e.g., independent variables, dependent variables, and moderating variables), and data information (e.g., mean values, standard deviations, and sample size). Following that, testing for publication bias and heterogeneity was done on the sample data using the Rev-Man 5.4 software, and then the test results were used to conduct a meta-analysis.

Publication bias test

When the sample of studies included in a meta-analysis does not accurately reflect the general status of research on the relevant subject, publication bias is said to be exhibited in this research. The reliability and accuracy of the meta-analysis may be impacted by publication bias. Due to this, the meta-analysis needs to check the sample data for publication bias (Stewart et al., 2006 ). A popular method to check for publication bias is the funnel plot; and it is unlikely that there will be publishing bias when the data are equally dispersed on either side of the average effect size and targeted within the higher region. The data are equally dispersed within the higher portion of the efficient zone, consistent with the funnel plot connected with this analysis (see Fig. 2 ), indicating that publication bias is unlikely in this situation.

figure 2

This funnel plot shows the result of publication bias of 79 effect quantities across 36 studies.

Heterogeneity test

To select the appropriate effect models for the meta-analysis, one might use the results of a heterogeneity test on the data effect sizes. In a meta-analysis, it is common practice to gauge the degree of data heterogeneity using the I 2 value, and I 2  ≥ 50% is typically understood to denote medium-high heterogeneity, which calls for the adoption of a random effect model; if not, a fixed effect model ought to be applied (Lipsey and Wilson, 2001 ). The findings of the heterogeneity test in this paper (see Table 2 ) revealed that I 2 was 86% and displayed significant heterogeneity ( P  < 0.01). To ensure accuracy and reliability, the overall effect size ought to be calculated utilizing the random effect model.

The analysis of the overall effect size

This meta-analysis utilized a random effect model to examine 79 effect quantities from 36 studies after eliminating heterogeneity. In accordance with Cohen’s criterion (Cohen, 1992 ), it is abundantly clear from the analysis results, which are shown in the forest plot of the overall effect (see Fig. 3 ), that the cumulative impact size of cooperative problem-solving is 0.82, which is statistically significant ( z  = 12.78, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]), and can encourage learners to practice critical thinking.

figure 3

This forest plot shows the analysis result of the overall effect size across 36 studies.

In addition, this study examined two distinct dimensions of critical thinking to better understand the precise contributions that collaborative problem-solving makes to the growth of critical thinking. The findings (see Table 3 ) indicate that collaborative problem-solving improves cognitive skills (ES = 0.70) and attitudinal tendency (ES = 1.17), with significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 7.95, P  < 0.01). Although collaborative problem-solving improves both dimensions of critical thinking, it is essential to point out that the improvements in students’ attitudinal tendency are much more pronounced and have a significant comprehensive effect (ES = 1.17, z  = 7.62, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.87, 1.47]), whereas gains in learners’ cognitive skill are slightly improved and are just above average. (ES = 0.70, z  = 11.55, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.58, 0.82]).

The analysis of moderator effect size

The whole forest plot’s 79 effect quantities underwent a two-tailed test, which revealed significant heterogeneity ( I 2  = 86%, z  = 12.78, P  < 0.01), indicating differences between various effect sizes that may have been influenced by moderating factors other than sampling error. Therefore, exploring possible moderating factors that might produce considerable heterogeneity was done using subgroup analysis, such as the learning stage, learning scaffold, teaching type, group size, duration of the intervention, measuring tool, and the subject area included in the 36 experimental designs, in order to further explore the key factors that influence critical thinking. The findings (see Table 4 ) indicate that various moderating factors have advantageous effects on critical thinking. In this situation, the subject area (chi 2  = 13.36, P  < 0.05), group size (chi 2  = 8.77, P  < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2  = 12.18, P  < 0.01), learning scaffold (chi 2  = 9.03, P  < 0.01), and teaching type (chi 2  = 7.20, P  < 0.05) are all significant moderators that can be applied to support the cultivation of critical thinking. However, since the learning stage and the measuring tools did not significantly differ among intergroup (chi 2  = 3.15, P  = 0.21 > 0.05, and chi 2  = 0.08, P  = 0.78 > 0.05), we are unable to explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving. These are the precise outcomes, as follows:

Various learning stages influenced critical thinking positively, without significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 3.15, P  = 0.21 > 0.05). High school was first on the list of effect sizes (ES = 1.36, P  < 0.01), then higher education (ES = 0.78, P  < 0.01), and middle school (ES = 0.73, P  < 0.01). These results show that, despite the learning stage’s beneficial influence on cultivating learners’ critical thinking, we are unable to explain why it is essential for cultivating critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

Different teaching types had varying degrees of positive impact on critical thinking, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 7.20, P  < 0.05). The effect size was ranked as follows: mixed courses (ES = 1.34, P  < 0.01), integrated courses (ES = 0.81, P  < 0.01), and independent courses (ES = 0.27, P  < 0.01). These results indicate that the most effective approach to cultivate critical thinking utilizing collaborative problem solving is through the teaching type of mixed courses.

Various intervention durations significantly improved critical thinking, and there were significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 12.18, P  < 0.01). The effect sizes related to this variable showed a tendency to increase with longer intervention durations. The improvement in critical thinking reached a significant level (ES = 0.85, P  < 0.01) after more than 12 weeks of training. These findings indicate that the intervention duration and critical thinking’s impact are positively correlated, with a longer intervention duration having a greater effect.

Different learning scaffolds influenced critical thinking positively, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 9.03, P  < 0.01). The resource-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.69, P  < 0.01) acquired a medium-to-higher level of impact, the technique-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.63, P  < 0.01) also attained a medium-to-higher level of impact, and the teacher-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.92, P  < 0.01) displayed a high level of significant impact. These results show that the learning scaffold with teacher support has the greatest impact on cultivating critical thinking.

Various group sizes influenced critical thinking positively, and the intergroup differences were statistically significant (chi 2  = 8.77, P  < 0.05). Critical thinking showed a general declining trend with increasing group size. The overall effect size of 2–3 people in this situation was the biggest (ES = 0.99, P  < 0.01), and when the group size was greater than 7 people, the improvement in critical thinking was at the lower-middle level (ES < 0.5, P  < 0.01). These results show that the impact on critical thinking is positively connected with group size, and as group size grows, so does the overall impact.

Various measuring tools influenced critical thinking positively, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2  = 0.08, P  = 0.78 > 0.05). In this situation, the self-adapting measurement tools obtained an upper-medium level of effect (ES = 0.78), whereas the complete effect size of the standardized measurement tools was the largest, achieving a significant level of effect (ES = 0.84, P  < 0.01). These results show that, despite the beneficial influence of the measuring tool on cultivating critical thinking, we are unable to explain why it is crucial in fostering the growth of critical thinking by utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

Different subject areas had a greater impact on critical thinking, and the intergroup differences were statistically significant (chi 2  = 13.36, P  < 0.05). Mathematics had the greatest overall impact, achieving a significant level of effect (ES = 1.68, P  < 0.01), followed by science (ES = 1.25, P  < 0.01) and medical science (ES = 0.87, P  < 0.01), both of which also achieved a significant level of effect. Programming technology was the least effective (ES = 0.39, P  < 0.01), only having a medium-low degree of effect compared to education (ES = 0.72, P  < 0.01) and other fields (such as language, art, and social sciences) (ES = 0.58, P  < 0.01). These results suggest that scientific fields (e.g., mathematics, science) may be the most effective subject areas for cultivating critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving with regard to teaching critical thinking

According to this meta-analysis, using collaborative problem-solving as an intervention strategy in critical thinking teaching has a considerable amount of impact on cultivating learners’ critical thinking as a whole and has a favorable promotional effect on the two dimensions of critical thinking. According to certain studies, collaborative problem solving, the most frequently used critical thinking teaching strategy in curriculum instruction can considerably enhance students’ critical thinking (e.g., Liang et al., 2017 ; Liu et al., 2020 ; Cindy, 2004 ). This meta-analysis provides convergent data support for the above research views. Thus, the findings of this meta-analysis not only effectively address the first research query regarding the overall effect of cultivating critical thinking and its impact on the two dimensions of critical thinking (i.e., attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills) utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving, but also enhance our confidence in cultivating critical thinking by using collaborative problem-solving intervention approach in the context of classroom teaching.

Furthermore, the associated improvements in attitudinal tendency are much stronger, but the corresponding improvements in cognitive skill are only marginally better. According to certain studies, cognitive skill differs from the attitudinal tendency in classroom instruction; the cultivation and development of the former as a key ability is a process of gradual accumulation, while the latter as an attitude is affected by the context of the teaching situation (e.g., a novel and exciting teaching approach, challenging and rewarding tasks) (Halpern, 2001 ; Wei and Hong, 2022 ). Collaborative problem-solving as a teaching approach is exciting and interesting, as well as rewarding and challenging; because it takes the learners as the focus and examines problems with poor structure in real situations, and it can inspire students to fully realize their potential for problem-solving, which will significantly improve their attitudinal tendency toward solving problems (Liu et al., 2020 ). Similar to how collaborative problem-solving influences attitudinal tendency, attitudinal tendency impacts cognitive skill when attempting to solve a problem (Liu et al., 2020 ; Zhang et al., 2022 ), and stronger attitudinal tendencies are associated with improved learning achievement and cognitive ability in students (Sison, 2008 ; Zhang et al., 2022 ). It can be seen that the two specific dimensions of critical thinking as well as critical thinking as a whole are affected by collaborative problem-solving, and this study illuminates the nuanced links between cognitive skills and attitudinal tendencies with regard to these two dimensions of critical thinking. To fully develop students’ capacity for critical thinking, future empirical research should pay closer attention to cognitive skills.

The moderating effects of collaborative problem solving with regard to teaching critical thinking

In order to further explore the key factors that influence critical thinking, exploring possible moderating effects that might produce considerable heterogeneity was done using subgroup analysis. The findings show that the moderating factors, such as the teaching type, learning stage, group size, learning scaffold, duration of the intervention, measuring tool, and the subject area included in the 36 experimental designs, could all support the cultivation of collaborative problem-solving in critical thinking. Among them, the effect size differences between the learning stage and measuring tool are not significant, which does not explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

In terms of the learning stage, various learning stages influenced critical thinking positively without significant intergroup differences, indicating that we are unable to explain why it is crucial in fostering the growth of critical thinking.

Although high education accounts for 70.89% of all empirical studies performed by researchers, high school may be the appropriate learning stage to foster students’ critical thinking by utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving since it has the largest overall effect size. This phenomenon may be related to student’s cognitive development, which needs to be further studied in follow-up research.

With regard to teaching type, mixed course teaching may be the best teaching method to cultivate students’ critical thinking. Relevant studies have shown that in the actual teaching process if students are trained in thinking methods alone, the methods they learn are isolated and divorced from subject knowledge, which is not conducive to their transfer of thinking methods; therefore, if students’ thinking is trained only in subject teaching without systematic method training, it is challenging to apply to real-world circumstances (Ruggiero, 2012 ; Hu and Liu, 2015 ). Teaching critical thinking as mixed course teaching in parallel to other subject teachings can achieve the best effect on learners’ critical thinking, and explicit critical thinking instruction is more effective than less explicit critical thinking instruction (Bensley and Spero, 2014 ).

In terms of the intervention duration, with longer intervention times, the overall effect size shows an upward tendency. Thus, the intervention duration and critical thinking’s impact are positively correlated. Critical thinking, as a key competency for students in the 21st century, is difficult to get a meaningful improvement in a brief intervention duration. Instead, it could be developed over a lengthy period of time through consistent teaching and the progressive accumulation of knowledge (Halpern, 2001 ; Hu and Liu, 2015 ). Therefore, future empirical studies ought to take these restrictions into account throughout a longer period of critical thinking instruction.

With regard to group size, a group size of 2–3 persons has the highest effect size, and the comprehensive effect size decreases with increasing group size in general. This outcome is in line with some research findings; as an example, a group composed of two to four members is most appropriate for collaborative learning (Schellens and Valcke, 2006 ). However, the meta-analysis results also indicate that once the group size exceeds 7 people, small groups cannot produce better interaction and performance than large groups. This may be because the learning scaffolds of technique support, resource support, and teacher support improve the frequency and effectiveness of interaction among group members, and a collaborative group with more members may increase the diversity of views, which is helpful to cultivate critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

With regard to the learning scaffold, the three different kinds of learning scaffolds can all enhance critical thinking. Among them, the teacher-supported learning scaffold has the largest overall effect size, demonstrating the interdependence of effective learning scaffolds and collaborative problem-solving. This outcome is in line with some research findings; as an example, a successful strategy is to encourage learners to collaborate, come up with solutions, and develop critical thinking skills by using learning scaffolds (Reiser, 2004 ; Xu et al., 2022 ); learning scaffolds can lower task complexity and unpleasant feelings while also enticing students to engage in learning activities (Wood et al., 2006 ); learning scaffolds are designed to assist students in using learning approaches more successfully to adapt the collaborative problem-solving process, and the teacher-supported learning scaffolds have the greatest influence on critical thinking in this process because they are more targeted, informative, and timely (Xu et al., 2022 ).

With respect to the measuring tool, despite the fact that standardized measurement tools (such as the WGCTA, CCTT, and CCTST) have been acknowledged as trustworthy and effective by worldwide experts, only 54.43% of the research included in this meta-analysis adopted them for assessment, and the results indicated no intergroup differences. These results suggest that not all teaching circumstances are appropriate for measuring critical thinking using standardized measurement tools. “The measuring tools for measuring thinking ability have limits in assessing learners in educational situations and should be adapted appropriately to accurately assess the changes in learners’ critical thinking.”, according to Simpson and Courtney ( 2002 , p. 91). As a result, in order to more fully and precisely gauge how learners’ critical thinking has evolved, we must properly modify standardized measuring tools based on collaborative problem-solving learning contexts.

With regard to the subject area, the comprehensive effect size of science departments (e.g., mathematics, science, medical science) is larger than that of language arts and social sciences. Some recent international education reforms have noted that critical thinking is a basic part of scientific literacy. Students with scientific literacy can prove the rationality of their judgment according to accurate evidence and reasonable standards when they face challenges or poorly structured problems (Kyndt et al., 2013 ), which makes critical thinking crucial for developing scientific understanding and applying this understanding to practical problem solving for problems related to science, technology, and society (Yore et al., 2007 ).

Suggestions for critical thinking teaching

Other than those stated in the discussion above, the following suggestions are offered for critical thinking instruction utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

First, teachers should put a special emphasis on the two core elements, which are collaboration and problem-solving, to design real problems based on collaborative situations. This meta-analysis provides evidence to support the view that collaborative problem-solving has a strong synergistic effect on promoting students’ critical thinking. Asking questions about real situations and allowing learners to take part in critical discussions on real problems during class instruction are key ways to teach critical thinking rather than simply reading speculative articles without practice (Mulnix, 2012 ). Furthermore, the improvement of students’ critical thinking is realized through cognitive conflict with other learners in the problem situation (Yang et al., 2008 ). Consequently, it is essential for teachers to put a special emphasis on the two core elements, which are collaboration and problem-solving, and design real problems and encourage students to discuss, negotiate, and argue based on collaborative problem-solving situations.

Second, teachers should design and implement mixed courses to cultivate learners’ critical thinking, utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving. Critical thinking can be taught through curriculum instruction (Kuncel, 2011 ; Leng and Lu, 2020 ), with the goal of cultivating learners’ critical thinking for flexible transfer and application in real problem-solving situations. This meta-analysis shows that mixed course teaching has a highly substantial impact on the cultivation and promotion of learners’ critical thinking. Therefore, teachers should design and implement mixed course teaching with real collaborative problem-solving situations in combination with the knowledge content of specific disciplines in conventional teaching, teach methods and strategies of critical thinking based on poorly structured problems to help students master critical thinking, and provide practical activities in which students can interact with each other to develop knowledge construction and critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

Third, teachers should be more trained in critical thinking, particularly preservice teachers, and they also should be conscious of the ways in which teachers’ support for learning scaffolds can promote critical thinking. The learning scaffold supported by teachers had the greatest impact on learners’ critical thinking, in addition to being more directive, targeted, and timely (Wood et al., 2006 ). Critical thinking can only be effectively taught when teachers recognize the significance of critical thinking for students’ growth and use the proper approaches while designing instructional activities (Forawi, 2016 ). Therefore, with the intention of enabling teachers to create learning scaffolds to cultivate learners’ critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem solving, it is essential to concentrate on the teacher-supported learning scaffolds and enhance the instruction for teaching critical thinking to teachers, especially preservice teachers.

Implications and limitations

There are certain limitations in this meta-analysis, but future research can correct them. First, the search languages were restricted to English and Chinese, so it is possible that pertinent studies that were written in other languages were overlooked, resulting in an inadequate number of articles for review. Second, these data provided by the included studies are partially missing, such as whether teachers were trained in the theory and practice of critical thinking, the average age and gender of learners, and the differences in critical thinking among learners of various ages and genders. Third, as is typical for review articles, more studies were released while this meta-analysis was being done; therefore, it had a time limit. With the development of relevant research, future studies focusing on these issues are highly relevant and needed.


The subject of the magnitude of collaborative problem-solving’s impact on fostering students’ critical thinking, which received scant attention from other studies, was successfully addressed by this study. The question of the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking was addressed in this study, which addressed a topic that had gotten little attention in earlier research. The following conclusions can be made:

Regarding the results obtained, collaborative problem solving is an effective teaching approach to foster learners’ critical thinking, with a significant overall effect size (ES = 0.82, z  = 12.78, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]). With respect to the dimensions of critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving can significantly and effectively improve students’ attitudinal tendency, and the comprehensive effect is significant (ES = 1.17, z  = 7.62, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.87, 1.47]); nevertheless, it falls short in terms of improving students’ cognitive skills, having only an upper-middle impact (ES = 0.70, z  = 11.55, P  < 0.01, 95% CI [0.58, 0.82]).

As demonstrated by both the results and the discussion, there are varying degrees of beneficial effects on students’ critical thinking from all seven moderating factors, which were found across 36 studies. In this context, the teaching type (chi 2  = 7.20, P  < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2  = 12.18, P  < 0.01), subject area (chi 2  = 13.36, P  < 0.05), group size (chi 2  = 8.77, P  < 0.05), and learning scaffold (chi 2  = 9.03, P  < 0.01) all have a positive impact on critical thinking, and they can be viewed as important moderating factors that affect how critical thinking develops. Since the learning stage (chi 2  = 3.15, P  = 0.21 > 0.05) and measuring tools (chi 2  = 0.08, P  = 0.78 > 0.05) did not demonstrate any significant intergroup differences, we are unable to explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included within the article and its supplementary information files, and the supplementary information files are available in the Dataverse repository: .

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This research was supported by the graduate scientific research and innovation project of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region named “Research on in-depth learning of high school information technology courses for the cultivation of computing thinking” (No. XJ2022G190) and the independent innovation fund project for doctoral students of the College of Educational Science of Xinjiang Normal University named “Research on project-based teaching of high school information technology courses from the perspective of discipline core literacy” (No. XJNUJKYA2003).

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Xu, E., Wang, W. & Wang, Q. The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving in promoting students’ critical thinking: A meta-analysis based on empirical literature. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 10 , 16 (2023).

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The Key to Effective Classroom Management

A three-phase process helps build strong teacher-student bonds, which can reduce disruptive behavior.

A teacher kneels next to his student's desk to talk to her. Both are smiling.

It’s a daunting but all-too-common sight for many teachers: A classroom full of rowdy students who are unable to focus on the lesson. Classroom management techniques may get things back on track, but valuable time has already been lost.

Many experienced teachers know that making meaningful connections with students is one of the most effective ways to prevent disruptions in the first place, and a new study set out to assess this approach . In classrooms where teachers used a series of techniques centered around establishing, maintaining, and restoring relationships, academic engagement increased by 33 percent and disruptive behavior decreased by 75 percent—making the time students spent in the classroom more worthwhile and productive.

“Strong teacher-student relationships have long been considered a foundational aspect of a positive school experience,” explains Clayton Cook, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Minnesota. When those relationships are damaged, student well-being may be affected, leading to academic and behavioral problems.

In the study, teachers used an approach called Establish-Maintain-Restore to build positive interactions with students—a total of 220 in fourth and fifth grade—and boost their sense of belonging. (A follow-up study with middle school teachers used the same strategies, with similar results.) Relationship-building was broken down into three phases: the first meeting, maintenance throughout the school year, and points when a relationship may suffer damage, with useful strategies for each phase.

Since it can be easy for some students to fall through the cracks, a relationship reflection form—like the one we share here—can help teachers take notes on each individual student and highlight ones who need the most attention.

Starting on a Positive Note

At the start of the school year, the teachers in the study made time for establishing relationships. “The goal is to ensure all students feel a sense of belonging that is characterized by trust, connection, and understanding,” Cook and his colleagues explain. For students with learning or behavioral problems, cultivating positive relationships provided “protective effects” that helped them stay focused on learning.

To establish positive relationships, teachers can:

  • “Bank time” with students. Schedule one-on-one meetings with students to get to know them better. The goal is to “make deposits into the relationship” to help ease conflict in the future if you have to give constructive feedback or address disruptive behavior.
  • Encourage student-led activities. Students feel more invested in their learning if given opportunity to share their interests . Teachers can step aside, be supportive, and listen.
  • Welcome students into the classroom. Activities such as positive greetings at the door and icebreaker questions help create a warm classroom culture.
  • Use positive communication techniques. Open-ended questions, reflective listening, validation statements, expressions of enthusiasm or interest, and compliments help students—especially shy or introverted ones—ease into classroom discussions.

Maintaining Relationships

Without active maintenance, relationships deteriorate over time, the study authors point out. Teachers may focus too much on academics and not enough on supporting students’ emotional well-being, slowly using up the banked time they initially built up with students.

Teachers can maintain relationships by continuing to implement the strategies above, and in addition they can:

  • Take note of positive and negative interactions with students.  Teachers should aim for a five-to-one ratio.
  • Regularly check in with students. Ask how they’re doing and what support they may need. In an Edutopia article, Todd Finley explains how 5x5 assessment time helped him focus on a handful of students every day.
  • Acknowledge good behavior. When teachers focus attention on positive conduct, disruptive behavior is stemmed before it becomes an issue.

Repairing Harm Before Things Get Worse

Eventually, negative interactions such as misunderstandings, conflict, or criticism can weaken a teacher-student relationship. If these negative interactions are left unaddressed, students may feel disengaged and be less willing to participate in activities. They may also be more likely to misbehave, creating further damage. So it’s important for teachers to “intentionally reconnect” with students to restore the relationship to a positive state.

When relationships need repair, teachers can:

  • Let go and start fresh. Teachers should avoid holding mistakes over a student’s head, instead giving them a chance to start each day with a clean slate.
  • Take responsibility for their actions. Teachers can avoid blaming students when things go wrong, and think, “What could I have done to avoid the problem in the first place?” They shouldn’t be afraid to apologize when that’s called for—doing so helps build trust with students.
  • Show empathy. There are two sides to every story, and a teacher can acknowledge that students may have a different perspective about what happened.
  • Focus on solutions, not problems. Teachers can work with students to find a solution that everyone feels is fair.
  • Separate the deed from the doer. It’s important to criticize the behavior, not the person. If teachers label children as “problem students,” there’s a danger that they’ll internalize that label, making it more likely that they’ll repeat the behavior in the future.

The takeaway: Effective classroom management starts with relationship building. When students feel a greater sense of belonging, they’re more likely to be academically engaged and demonstrate positive behavior.

Mastering the Art of Classroom Management: 10 Strategies and Techniques for Success

By SchoolSims

Classroom management is a critical aspect of effective teaching that can significantly impact students’ learning experiences. As the quote suggests, disruptive behavior doesn’t need to be a dramatic movie scene, but even minor disruptions can increase educators’ stress and burnout. Unfortunately, many teachers feel under-supported and need more support in terms of professional development for classroom management. However, teachers can create a positive and orderly learning environment that promotes prosocial behavior and academic engagement with the right strategies and techniques. In this blog, we will explore some straightforward and effective classroom management approaches that you can implement to enhance your teaching and create a conducive learning atmosphere.

1. Establish Clear and Consistent Rules

One of the foundational principles of classroom management is setting clear and consistent rules. These rules provide a framework for student behavior and create a predictable environment. When creating rules, involving your students in the process is essential. This promotes ownership and ensures the practices are reasonable and relevant to their needs.

Effective classroom management requires following through with rewards and consequences. As Lori Sheffield advises, it’s crucial to be clear, proactive, and consistent in your approach: “If you say it, mean it. And if you mean it, say it.” This commitment creates a harmonious environment for learning and growth in the classroom.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Rewarding positive behavior is a powerful technique in classroom management. Acknowledging and reinforcing good behavior can motivate students to continue behaving well. You can use various rewards, such as verbal praise, small incentives, or a class reward system. Positive reinforcement helps create a positive classroom culture where students are encouraged to excel.

3. Be Fair and Respectful

Treating all students fairly and respectfully is a cornerstone of effective classroom management. Students are more likely to respect and follow your rules when they perceive you as fair and respectful. Be consistent in your interactions with students and avoid favoritism. Creating an atmosphere of respect can reduce the likelihood of disruptive behavior.

4. Build Positive Relationships

Developing positive relationships with your students can profoundly impact classroom management. When students feel connected to their teacher, they are more likely to cooperate and behave appropriately. Spend time getting to know your students, showing interest in their lives, and being supportive in their educational journey.

Within the classroom, the roots of profound learning are embedded in significant relationships. As James Comer wisely notes, “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” Teachers prioritizing these connections don’t merely guide students for a single academic year; they cultivate a lifelong bond. In the words of Justin Tarte, they become “their” teacher for life.

5. Use Clear Communication

Effective communication is crucial for classroom management. Ensure that your instructions and expectations are communicated. Use language that is appropriate for your student’s age and comprehension level. Also, be an active listener and encourage open communication in your classroom, allowing students to express their concerns and questions.

6. Consistency is Key

Consistency in enforcing rules and consequences is vital for classroom management. When students understand that their actions have consistent results, they are more likely to think twice before engaging in disruptive behavior. Be consistent not only in the rules but also in your responses to various situations.

7. Time Management

Proper time management can reduce the opportunity for disruptive behavior. Plan your lessons and activities effectively, ensuring students are engaged and occupied. When students are actively involved in their learning, they are less likely to become distracted or disruptive.

As a seasoned educator, Melissa Patterson emphasizes the importance of a well-laid plan, asserting that it fosters comfort and confidence in the classroom. Regardless of experience level, implementing a proven strategy instills the teacher’s assurance and nurtures a welcoming environment for students, laying the foundation for a culture of learning from day one.

8. Classroom Layout

The physical layout of your classroom can impact classroom management. Arrange the seating to minimize distractions and promote a sense of community. Ensure you have a clear view of all students; they can easily see and hear you. This setup can help you manage the class more efficiently.

9. Problem-Solving Approach

When disruptive behavior occurs, adopt a problem-solving rather than a punitive approach. Help students understand the consequences of their actions and work with them to find solutions. This addresses the immediate issue and teaches students valuable conflict-resolution skills.

10. Professional Development

Lastly, remember to invest in your professional development. Seek out training and resources on classroom management. Join professional organizations, attend workshops, and collaborate with colleagues to learn and share effective strategies. Continuous learning can help you stay updated and effective in managing your classroom. Consider incorporating simulation-based professional development opportunities into your constant learning journey, as they provide immersive and practical experiences that can enhance your skills in classroom management.

Effective classroom management is essential for creating a positive and productive learning environment. Even if you feel under-supported in terms of professional development, you can implement straightforward and practical classroom management strategies and techniques. By establishing clear rules, using positive reinforcement, building positive relationships, and maintaining fairness and consistency, you can significantly reduce disruptive behavior and enhance your students’ educational experience. Remember, classroom management is not just about preserving order; it’s about creating a space where students can thrive and grow.

Please fill out the form below if you would like to receive additional information about SchoolSims.

Works Cited

“20 Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques [+ Downloadable List].” Prodigygame.Com, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Staff, We Are Teachers. “23 Brilliant Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques.” We Are Teachers, 31 Oct. 2023,

Finley, Todd. “19 Big and Small Classroom Management Strategies.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 6 June 2017,

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Final thoughts about these classroom management strategies

Paper airplanes fly across the room. Students race between desks. You can’t get a word in, as they yell over you.

Disruptive behavior doesn’t have to be this dramatic, like a movie scene you’d watch in a media literacy lesson, but poor classroom management will almost assuredly elevate your stress and burnout rates.

Unfortunately, a 2019 report indicates that teachers overwhelmingly report a lack of professional development support in improving classroom management. Despite this unideal situation, there are straightforward and effective classroom management approaches you can implement by yourself. These approaches can enhance prosocial student behavior and academic engagement, establishing an orderly learning environment.

Available as a downloadable list to keep at your desk , below are 20 research-backed classroom management strategies and techniques.

Use the ones that best appeal to your situation and teaching style.

These 20 classroom management techniques have shown to improve classroom behavior, build relationships for a better classroom community, and foster a positive classroom environment where student learning is the number one collective goal.

Try these effective classroom management strategies with your students to become a happier, more effective teacher.

1. Model ideal behavior

Make a habit of demonstrating behavior you want to see, as many studies show that modelling effectively teaches students how to act in different situations.

A straightforward way to model certain behaviors is holding a mock conversation with an administrator, other teacher or student helper in front of the class. Talking about a test or other relatable topic, be sure to:

  • Use polite language
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Keep phones in your pockets
  • Let one another speak uninterrupted
  • Raise concerns about one another’s statements in a respectful manner

After, start a class discussion to list and expand upon the ideal behaviors you exemplified.

2. Let students help establish guidelines

Young students sit in rows, raising their hands to answer the teacher's question.

Encourage all students to help you build classroom expectations and rules, as you’ll generate more buy-in than just telling them what they’re not allowed to do.

This is especially essential for new teachers. Near the start of the school year or during the first day of a semester, start a discussion by asking students what they believe should and shouldn’t fly in terms of appropriate behavior.

At what points are phones okay and not okay? What are acceptable noise levels during lessons?

This may seem like you’re setting yourself up for failure, but -- depending on the makeup of your class -- you may be shocked at the strictness of some proposed rules. Regardless, having a discussion should lead to mutually-understood and -respected expectations for your classroom culture.

3. Document rules

Don’t let your mutually-respected guidelines go forgotten.

Similar to handing out a syllabus, print and distribute the list of rules that the class discussion generated. Then, go through the list with your students. Doing this emphasizes the fact that you respect their ideas and intend to adhere to them. And when a student breaks a rule, it’ll be easy for you to point to this document.

You'll likely want to post these rules up in your classroom — if you haven't already — for occasional reference. If you’re feeling creative, you can include the rule list in a student handbook with important dates, events and curriculum information, too.

4. Avoid punishing the class

Address isolated discipline problems individually instead of punishing an entire class, as the latter can hurt your relationships with students who are on-task and thereby jeopardize other classroom management efforts.

Instead, call out specific students in a friendly manner. For example:

  • “Do you have a question?”, not “Stop talking and disrupting other students”
  • “Do you need help focusing?”, not “Pay attention and stop fooling around while I’m talking”

This basic approach will allow you to keep a friendly disposition, while immediately acknowledging inappropriate behavior.

5. Encourage initiative

A student stands at the front of the classroom with her teacher, talking to her classmates, who are seated.

Promote  growth mindset , and inject variety into your lessons, by  allowing students to work ahead and deliver short presentations  to share take-away points. Almost inevitably, you’ll have some eager learners in your classroom. You can simply ask them if they’d like to get ahead from time-to-time.

For example, if you’re reading a specific chapter in a textbook, propose that they read the following one too. When they deliver their subsequent presentations to preview the next chapter on your behalf, you may find that other students want a bit more work as well.

6. Offer praise

Praise students for jobs well done, as doing so improves academic and behavioral performance , according to a recent research review and study .

When it is sincere and references specific examples of effort or accomplishment, praise can:

  • Inspire the class
  • Improve a student’s self-esteem
  • Reinforce rules and values you want to see

Perhaps more importantly, it encourages students to repeat positive behavior. Let’s say a student exemplifies advanced problem-solving skills when tackling a math word problem . Praising his or her use of specific tactics should go a long way in ensuring he or she continues to use these tactics. Not to mention, you’ll motivate other students to do the same.

7. Use non-verbal communication

A teacher stands at the front of the classroom, using hand motions to supplement her talking.

Complement words with actions and visual aids to improve content delivery, helping students focus and process lessons.

Many differentiated instruction strategies and techniques are rooted in these communication methods. For example, running learning stations -- divided sections of your classroom through which students rotate -- allows you to deliver a range of non-spoken content types. These include videos, infographics and physical objects such as counting coins. 

8. Hold parties

Throw an occasional classroom party to acknowledge students’ hard work, motivating them to keep it up.

Even if it’s just for 20 or 30 minutes, they should be happy with snacks and a selection of group games to play. Clarify that you’re holding the party to reward them and they can earn future parties by demonstrating ideal behavior, collectively scoring high on assessments and more.

9. Give tangible rewards

A teacher high-fives a student who's completed her work, which is one of his classroom management strategies to reward good behavior.

Reward specific students at the end of each lesson, in front of the class, as another motivational and behavior-reinforcement technique.

Let’s say a few students are actively listening throughout the entire lesson, answering questions and asking their own. Before the class ends, walk over to their desks to give them raffle tickets. So others can learn, state aloud what each student did to earn the tickets. On Friday, they can submit their tickets for a shot at a prize that changes each week -- from candy to being able to choose a game for the next class party.

10. Make positive letters and phone calls

Keep students happy in and out of class by pleasantly surprising their parents, making positive phone calls and sending complimentary letters home.

When the occasion arises, from academic effort or behavioral progress, letting parents know has a trickle-down effect. They’ll generally congratulate their kids; their kids will likely come to class eager to earn more positive feedback. This can also entice parents to grow more invested in a child’s learning, opening the door to at-home lessons. Such lessons are a mainstay element of culturally-responsive teaching .

11. Build excitement for content and lesson plans

A teacher stands at the front of her class, trying to build excitement by previewing interesting parts of the day's lesson.

This one works well no matter the grade level: elementary school, middle school or high school. Start lessons by previewing particularly-exciting parts, hooking student interest from the get-go.

As the bell rings and students settle, go through an agenda of the day’s highlights for the whole class. These could include group tasks, engaging bits of content and anything else to pique curiosity. For example, “Throughout the day, you’ll learn about:”

  • How to talk like you’re a teacher (sentence structure)
  • Why you don’t know anyone who’s won the lottery (probability)
  • What all the presidents of the United States have had in common (social analysis)

The goal of this classroom management technique is to immediately interest students in your agenda and thereby dissuade misbehavior.

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12. Offer different types of free study time

Provide a range of activities during free study time to appeal to students who struggle to process content in silence, individually.

You can do this by dividing your class into clearly-sectioned solo and team activities. In separate sections, consider:

  • Providing audiobooks, which can play material relevant to your lessons
  • Maintaining a designated quiet space for students to take notes and complete work
  • Creating a station for challenging  group games  that teach or reinforce standards-aligned skills
  • Allowing students to work in groups while taking notes and completing work, away from quiet zones

By running these sorts of activities, free study time will begin to benefit diverse learners. This should contribute to overall classroom engagement.

13. Write group contracts

A teacher offers advice to a pair of students working together to complete a question.

Help student group work run smoothly and effectively by writing contracts that contain guidelines, having everyone sign.

Group contracts should be based on expectations that students have for each other, and you have for them. You can gather the class’s thoughts by holding a discussion about what the ideal group member does, and how he or she acts. Once you’ve written the contract, encourage students to come up with consequences for violating expectations.

By having them sign a fresh version of the contract before each group task and project, you’re empowering them to hold each other accountable.

14. Assign open-ended projects

Encourage students to tackle open-ended projects -- projects that don’t demand a specific product -- to allow them to demonstrate knowledge in ways that inherently suit them.

This starts by giving the class a list of broad project ideas, asking each student to choose one. Be sure to provide a rubric for each project that clearly defines expectations. By both enticing and challenging students, you should notice they’ll:

  • Work and learn at their own paces
  • Engage actively with appropriate content
  • Demonstrate knowledge as effectively as possible

With these benefits, students may actually look forward to taking on new projects.

15. Give only two scores for informal assessments

A teacher sits down at his desk, grading student work.

Recall a time you saw a big “F” in red ink on your work. You were probably too upset to review mistakes and feedback, and so are your students when they see the same.

So, consider avoiding standard marks on informal and formative assessments .

Instead, just state if a student did or did not meet expectations. Then, provide struggling students with a clear path to improve. For example, pair classmates who didn’t meet expectations with those who did, giving them a review and practice activity. When strugglers are confident they understand key concepts, encourage them to tell you. Provide a new assessment, allowing them to prove their competency.

16. Use EdTech that adjusts to each student

Give students who struggle to process your content opportunities to try educational technology that adapts to their needs.

There are many games and platforms that use adaptive learning principles to detect a given student’s skill deficits, serving them content to help overcome them.

For example, Prodigy Math adjusts its content to help students in grades 1 to 8 address their trouble spots. It also offers feedback to help them solve specific mistakes, as they answer questions that use words, charts, pictures and numbers.

The best bit? Teaching tools are all available at no cost to educators and schools.

See the student experience below!

17. Interview students

Interview students who aren’t academically engaged or displaying prosocial behavior to learn how to better manage them.

While running learning stations or a large-group activity, pull each student aside for a few minutes. Ask about:

  • What helps them focus
  • Who they work well with
  • Their favorite types of lessons
  • Their favorite in-class activities
  • Which kinds of exercises help them remember key lesson points

Note their answers to come up with activities and approaches that engage them, thereby limiting classroom disruptions.

18. Address inappropriate or off-task behavior quickly

A teacher sits down with a misbehaving student, talking to him about his behavior as one of her classroom management strategies.

Avoid hesitation when you must address inappropriate or off-task behavior, especially when a student breaks a documented rule.

Acting sooner than later will help ensure that negative feelings -- whether between students or you and a student -- won’t fester. Failure to act can result in more poor behavior, leading to needlessly-difficult conversations.

But keep in mind: It’s usually best to talk to the student in private. Research shows that punishing students in front of peers has “limited value.”

19. Consider peer teaching

Use  peer teaching  as a classroom management strategy if you feel your top performers can help engage and educate disruptive and struggling students.

Peer teaching activities, such as pairing students together as reading buddies, can be  especially beneficial for students who suffer from low confidence and poor interpersonal skills.

Authoritative research  states tutors improve self-esteem and interpersonal skills by giving feedback. Tutees realize benefits because they can ask questions and receive immediate clarification. A  later study  of at-risk students echoes these advantages. Although you should spend time teaching peer tutors how to properly communicate with tutees, you’ll likely find the benefits are worth the work.

20. Gamify personal learning plans

Young students sit smiling at a desk, using tablets to complete work.

Motivate students on personal learning plans by gamifying those plans, as studies — such as recent research from South Korea — indicate this will continuously engage and incentivize them.

Consider  gamification strategies  such as:

  • Adjusting your scoring system --  Give experience points (XP) -- along with traditional scores -- on tests and assignments, setting a goal for the student to reach a certain amount of XP per unit. For example, if a student scores 60% on a quiz, give him or her 6,000 XP. You can also award XP for completing extra assignments, participating in class or anything else that shows effort to learn.
  • Using stages --  Refer to topics and units as stages. The former terms have clear connotations for you, but students may not see how they fit together. If they’re gamers, they’ll understand that reaching the next stage requires overcoming precursory challenges. Emphasize this by framing certain tasks as prerequisites to reach the next learning stage.

If these strategies work especially well for individual students, you should see similar success by using them as class-wide student management techniques.

Want a handy reference of all these strategies you can keep at your desk? Download our classroom management strategies cheat sheet here!

Classroom management strategy FAQs

What is the best classroom management style.

According to Diana Baumrind's work, a clinical psychologist known for her research on parenting styles, some educators believe an authoritative classroom management style may the best one. This type of high control, high involvement classroom management style is characterized by strong expectations of appropriate behavior, clear understandings of why certain behaviors are acceptable and others not acceptable, and warm student-teacher relationships.

However, there is no specific approach that has been proven to be the most effective. So you may wish to review The Classroom Management Book by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong which includes a variety of solutions that can be easily implemented. Every group of students has varying needs and will likely need a unique approach to help every student bring his or her best self to the classroom and be ready-to-learn every single day.

What are the four components of classroom management?

Implementing the top four components of classroom management from the start will set you and your students up for success all year long. They are:

  • Classroom design —  be intentional about how you set up your desk, your students' desks, bulletin board displays, devices and other aspects of your classroom. Thoughtful classroom design can help create a safe and welcoming learning environment.
  • Rules/discipline —  to create a safe and caring school community, develop classroom rules your students understand and — hopefully — respect. While it may not be fun, be sure to communicate that breaking classroom rules will have concrete yet fair consequences.
  • Scheduling/organization —  being on time, keeping on task and staying organized will help set up your lessons (and your students' learning) up for success.
  • Instructional technique —  while you may not have the flexibility you'd like when it comes to content and curriculum, you should have the freedom to choose  how  you teach. For example, 8th grade students may prefer a lecture-style lesson with small group discussions while 3rd grade students may prefer learning math with a digital game-based learning platform. Observe how your students learn best and use the classroom management strategies and techniques to teach your lessons.

Why is classroom management so important?

When done effectively, classroom management is important for three main reasons. It:

  • Creates and sustains an orderly learning environment in the classroom
  • Improves meaningful academic learning and fosters social-emotional growth
  • Increases students' academic engagement and lowers negative classroom behavior

These class-wide and one-on-one approaches to classroom management largely work  across subjects and grade levels . Implementable without admin and parent support, they should empower you to establish an orderly — yet friendly and engaging — environment.

Look forward to better teacher-to-student and student-to-student interactions as a result.

Looking for a fun way to engage and reward your students ? Try Prodigy Math ! Aligned with curricula for grades 1 to 8, students will practice key skills while also exploring an exciting fantasy world.

Plus, you'll get access to free teacher tools that help you differentiate math content, send assessments and collect student insights — in just a few clicks.

  • Effective Classroom Management

Supporting Struggling Students Through Collaborative Problem Solving

  • February 23, 2022
  • David Adams, PhD, and Enoch Hale, PhD

Every semester faculty are faced with students who struggle with completing assignments, understanding the content, or just find it difficult to participate in class activities and discussions. For many, these struggles are connected to low grades, negative perceptions of the instructor and class, increased absences, and indicative of a general lack of engagement.  It is not uncommon for faculty to misinterpret these students as lazy, unmotivated, or just unprepared to do college-level work.  Faculty regularly reach out to assist, but some students are put into the university machinery of “student support,” where their worlds become more complex with emails connecting them to support services like tutoring and counseling, or notifying them that they are in danger of failing or not passing a course. Although this outreach is intended to motivate and help, there is a very real cognitive and emotional load that can be demoralizing if not debilitating. This is complicated, if not impossible terrain to navigate for all of us who genuinely want to see students succeed. Greene (2009) developed a framework for collaborative problem solving as a way to organize, support, and deeply engage students in identifying realistic ways to get back on track and succeed within the classroom. This framework has three steps that can be applied across multiple modalities.  All three steps are based on the fact that we are not merely disseminating information, but teaching human beings to think through content to build disciplinary skills, insights, and understanding. 

Step 1: Connect to identify the root cause

Meet with the underperforming student and work to identify the root causes for their classroom performance. It seems simple but getting to the root cause is quite difficult because it positions us to take into consideration different factors, many of which may be personal and that can be uncomfortable. 

  • Observed behaviors/actions: Let the student know what you have observed and focus on the behaviors, not what you think may be the underlying reasons. Ask if the student agrees with your observations and/or has more to add or change.
  • Seek and clarify reasons: Ask the student for clarification as to why these behaviors are occurring. 

Successfully completing Step 1 requires that we, as faculty members, be specific in identifying the behavior. This step may also be the first time you have spoken with this student in a one-on-one setting and offers an opportunity to break down the barriers that may exist while opening up the opportunity for a conversation.

Step 2: Explain impact on oneself and others

Explain to the student how their behavior is impacting their success in the classroom and what impact it is having on the rest of the class. This is an important step since often the student does not realize that their behaviors can take away an opportunity for the class to be a community of learners, where students’ voices are heard and learning is done in small and large groups through the sharing of information. This may also be the first time the student has looked beyond their own learning and viewed their own behavior as a negative impact on the learning of other students. Below are some prompts to get the conversation started.

  • “Now that we understand what the problems are, let me explain the type of impact I believe it is having on you, me, and the rest of the class….”
  • “How do you think that your behavior may be affecting others in the class?”
  • “Have any of your class peers asked if you are doing okay?”
  • “We previously discussed your reluctance to engage in the class discussions, have you thought about how that has impacted the learning of yourself and your peers?”

Step 3: Collective Problem Solving

Now is the moment for mapping out solutions. The problem(s) have been identified, the points of view and implications have been clarified, so the stage is set to create an action plan.  What makes this step different from traditional problem-solving approaches is that the student takes the responsibility to lead the discussion.  Specifically, students work to identify ways in which they can get back on track. Your job, as the instructor, is to support and guide the student, being honest of their own expectations and what is possible based on the academic expectations of the course. We should remember that most students upon meeting during office hours or after class are waiting to be told what they have to do. This system of faculty problem solving for the student does not address the larger issue. It may also further decrease the motivation of the student by putting unrealistic expectations in front of them and does not address the problem as to how the student arrived in this situation. Greene (2009) points to the power of this phase as the opportunity for the student to identify a new strategy that can support them now and in future situations that are similar.

Teaching is no easy task, but strong and consistent approaches can help us help students to help themselves. With restrictions put in place across a majority of universities, and students possibly feeling more disconnected from the instructors of their courses, the chances of students encountering different unforeseen obstacles has become heightened. What we can say with confidence is that the current landscape of higher education has reminded us that often the best path to supporting student learning is focusing on what we can control…and that is what we do in the classroom. 

David Adams, PhD, is an assistant professor of kinesiology at Cal Poly Humboldt (HSU). He teaches classes within the kinesiology department. His research focuses on improving the movement abilities for children with disabilities, as well as improving the learning experience and academic experiences of students in higher education.

Enoch Hale, PhD, is the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cal Poly Humboldt. Dr. Hale has 18 years of teaching experience of which 12 of those years are in higher education. His research focuses on faculty development, teaching and learning in higher ed, and embedding critical thinking into curriculum, instruction, and classroom culture.

Greene, R. W. (2009). Lost at school: Why our kids with behavioral challenges are falling through the cracks and how we can help them . Simon and Schuster.

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20 Proven Effective Classroom Management Strategies For All Types of Classes

Ausbert Generoso

Ausbert Generoso

20 Proven Effective Classroom Management Strategies For All Types of Classes

Implementing effective classroom management strategies is crucial, particularly in today’s diverse classrooms. With students from various backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles, creating a positive and inclusive learning environment becomes a great challenge. In this blog post, we will explore 20 unique classroom management strategies that you could implement, even in challenging classroom settings. With the goal to foster a supportive atmosphere, engage students, and more, one thing in common remains above all – promoting optimal learning outcomes. Let’s dive in and discover ways to make the learning experience fun and enjoyable!

Understanding the Importance of Classroom Management Strategies

In the bustling world of education, where diverse students bring a myriad of experiences and needs into the classroom, effective classroom management emerges as a vital force. It holds the power to shape not only the educational journey but also the lives of students. By prioritizing classroom management , we create a transformative space where students can thrive, teachers can inspire, and learning can flourish.

Importance of Classroom Management Strategies

We all understand that the success of a classroom relies on the diverse techniques employed by individual educators to manage their classes. But, have you ever wondered why establishing a solid foundation in effective classroom management is absolutely essential? Doing so can open the door to a world of possibilities, and here are a few key benefits that come along with it:

🌱 Establishing a Positive Learning Environment

Effective classroom management strategies set the foundation for a positive and productive learning environment. When students feel safe, heard, and supported, they are more likely to actively engage in learning, participate in class discussions, and take academic risks.

📚 Maximizing Learning Opportunities

By proactively coming up with new ways to enhance the classroom experience, you create an environment that maximizes learning opportunities for all students. Minimizing disruptions and maintaining a focused atmosphere allows students to concentrate on their studies, absorb information, and achieve their academic potential.

☮️ Fostering Inclusion and Equity

Optimizing classroom management strategies enables you to foster inclusion and equity in your classroom. By implementing fair and consistent practices, you ensure that all students have equal access to educational resources, opportunities, and support. This promotes a sense of belonging and encourages collaboration among diverse student populations.

😇 Developing Social and Emotional Skills

Effective classroom management strategies open up as a platform for developing students’ social and emotional skills. Through clear expectations, positive reinforcement, and conflict resolution strategies, students learn to regulate their emotions, communicate effectively, and work cooperatively with their peers.

🫂 Enhancing Teacher-Student Relationships

When you prioritize classroom management strategies, you establish strong teacher-student relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding. Positive relationships contribute to a supportive classroom climate where students feel comfortable seeking help, expressing their thoughts, and taking intellectual risks.

20 Unique Classroom Management Strategies to Keep Students Engaged

#1 secret agent theme .

Imagine your classroom as a thrilling world of spies and turn it into a secret agent adventure where students can earn special badges or ranks based on their behavior and participation. Students become secret agents and can earn cool badges or ranks by showing good behavior and actively participating. Here are some examples of how this theme can be used:

  • Each student is given a spy badge with different ranks, like Rookie Agent, Special Agent, or Master Spy. When students follow classroom rules, treat others with respect, and behave well, they can earn these badges as rewards.
  • Make class assignments feel like secret missions. For example, a math assignment can become a mission to solve equations and decode hidden messages. Students who successfully complete these missions can level up their ranks or unlock special privileges.
  • Introduce coding or puzzle challenges where students have to crack secret codes and ciphers. They can work alone or in teams to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Offer spy-themed rewards as incentives for achievements. These can include spy gadgets, secret decoder rings, or personalized spy notebooks. Students can earn these rewards by reaching higher ranks, completing missions, or putting in exceptional effort.
  • Create fun physical challenges, like obstacle courses or treasure hunts, within the secret agent theme. Students can work together, solving clues and overcoming obstacles, to earn points or rewards. This encourages teamwork and collaboration.

Secret Agent Theme Strategy

#2 Virtual Travel

Transform your classroom into an exciting virtual travel experience, where students embark on a journey around the world without leaving their seats. With the Virtual Travel theme, students can earn “passport stamps” as they complete assignments or exhibit positive behavior, immersing themselves in diverse cultures and landmarks. This strategy encourages curiosity, global awareness, and rewards students’ achievements.

Virtual Travel Strategy

  • Provide each student with a personalized passport to track their progress and decorate. Students earn passport stamps when they successfully complete assignments, demonstrate good behavior, or achieve specific goals. These stamps symbolize the countries or landmarks they “visit” during their make-believe travels.
  • Throughout the school year, introduce various countries and destinations to your students. Display country profiles or posters highlighting key information like geography, history, culture, and landmarks. Incorporate this knowledge into lessons or hold dedicated “travel” sessions where students explore and learn about a specific country.
  • Frame assignments as travel missions linked to the featured country or destination. For example, if you’re exploring Japan, students could research Japanese culture or create presentations about famous Japanese landmarks. Encourage creativity and provide opportunities for students to share their work with the class.
  • Enhance the virtual travel experience by incorporating technology. Take students on virtual tours of famous landmarks, museums, or natural wonders through online platforms or pre-recorded videos. Engage them by asking questions and facilitating discussions during these virtual tours.
  • Organize hands-on activities that allow students to experience the culture of the countries they “visit.” Encourage them to try traditional crafts, taste international snacks, or learn basic phrases in different languages. These activities foster cultural understanding and appreciation.
  • Set milestones based on the number of passport stamps students collect. Celebrate their progress by rewarding them with small tokens related to the featured countries, such as stickers, postcards, or bookmarks. Create a “travel wall” where students can proudly display their accomplishments.

#3 Mystery Box

Engage your students with an element of mystery and excitement through the Mystery Box strategy. This strategy involves using a special box filled with small prizes or rewards that students can earn by demonstrating good behavior or achieving academic milestones. The Mystery Box adds an element of anticipation and motivation to the classroom environment, encouraging students to strive for success.

Mystery Box Strategy

  • Clearly define the behaviors and achievements that will earn students a chance to pick from the Mystery Box. It could be anything from completing homework on time, actively participating in class discussions, exhibiting kindness towards classmates, or achieving specific academic goals. Make sure the criteria are transparent and consistent.
  • Present the Mystery Box as a visually appealing and intriguing object to capture students’ attention. Decorate the box with enticing designs or wrapping paper to build anticipation and make it a focal point in the classroom. Consider adding a sense of mystery by placing a “question mark” or a small teaser on the box’s exterior.
  • Determine a fair and random selection process for choosing students who get to pick from the Mystery Box. It could involve drawing names from a hat, using a random name generator, or employing a rotating schedule. Ensure that every student has an equal chance to earn rewards from the box.
  • Fill the Mystery Box with a variety of small prizes or rewards that appeal to your students. These can include items like stickers, stationery, small toys, bookmarks, or even privilege cards that grant special privileges in the classroom. Consider including a mix of instant rewards and “big-ticket” items to maintain excitement.
  • When a student earns the opportunity to pick from the Mystery Box, celebrate their achievement in front of the class. Acknowledge their hard work, positive behavior, or academic accomplishments. Encourage the student to share their success with their peers, fostering a positive and supportive classroom community.

#4 Class Olympics

Get ready to ignite a sense of friendly competition and teamwork in your classroom with the exhilarating Class Olympics strategy. This strategy involves organizing a class Olympics event where students can participate in a range of academic and physical challenges, earning points for their teams or themselves. By incorporating elements of teamwork, goal-setting, and healthy competition, the Class Olympics foster a positive and engaging learning environment.

  • Divide your class into teams, encouraging a mix of abilities and strengths within each group. Consider assigning team names and colors to create a sense of identity and camaraderie among students.
  • Design a series of academic challenges that align with your curriculum and encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and knowledge retention. These challenges can include quizzes, debates, puzzles, creative projects, or presentations. Each successful completion of an academic challenge earns points for the respective team or individual.
  • Incorporate physical activities into the Class Olympics to promote physical fitness, coordination, and teamwork. These challenges can include relay races, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, or team-building activities. Students earn points based on their performance in these challenges.
  • Establish a points system to track each team’s or individual’s progress throughout the Class Olympics. Assign specific point values to different challenges, ensuring that both academic and physical achievements are recognized. Display a visual scoreboard in the classroom to build excitement and encourage friendly competition.
  • Plan for awards and recognition at the conclusion of the Class Olympics. Consider certificates, medals, or trophies for the winning team or individual with the highest overall points. Additionally, acknowledge and celebrate individual accomplishments, such as the most improved student or the most enthusiastic participant.

#5 Random Acts of Kindness

Cultivate a culture of kindness and empathy in your classroom with the heartwarming Random Acts of Kindness strategy. This strategy aims to encourage students to perform thoughtful and selfless acts of kindness, while also fostering a sense of gratitude and appreciation for one another. By recognizing and rewarding these acts, you can inspire students to spread positivity and make a difference in the lives of others.

Random Acts of Kindness Strategy

  • Provide students with a special notebook or journal where they can record their acts of kindness. Encourage them to write down the date, the act of kindness they performed, and how it made them and others feel. This log serves as a personal reflection and reminder of the positive impact they are making.
  • Initiate regular classroom discussions about kindness and its significance. Encourage students to share their experiences and stories of acts of kindness they have witnessed or received. Use these discussions to explore the importance of empathy, compassion, and the ripple effect of kindness.
  • Create a system to recognize and appreciate students for their acts of kindness. This can include shout-outs during class, sharing their stories with the class, or displaying a kindness bulletin board where students’ acts of kindness are showcased. Consider nominating a “Kindness Ambassador” each week or month, who can highlight exceptional acts of kindness.
  • Implement a reward system to further incentivize acts of kindness. This can involve a point system where students earn points for each act of kindness recorded in their logs. Accumulated points can be redeemed for small rewards or privileges, such as a homework pass, a special classroom job, or a kindness-themed certificate.
  • Extend the acts of kindness beyond the classroom by involving students in community service projects or collaborations with local organizations. This could include volunteering at a shelter, organizing a donation drive, or participating in a community clean-up initiative. Engaging in acts of kindness towards the wider community reinforces the importance of making a positive impact on the world.

#6 Class Newsletter

Unleash the creativity and communication skills of your students with the engaging Class Newsletter strategy. This strategy involves assigning students the role of a class journalist, allowing them to take turns creating a weekly or monthly newsletter that showcases positive achievements and events within the classroom. By giving students the opportunity to share and celebrate their accomplishments, you foster a sense of pride, teamwork, and effective communication among your students.

  • Assign different students as the class journalist for a specific period, such as a week or a month. Rotate the role so that every student gets a chance to be the class journalist. This allows them to develop their writing skills, creativity, and responsibility in curating the newsletter content.
  • Encourage students to gather information about positive achievements within the classroom. This can include academic accomplishments, creative projects, acts of kindness, or sports achievements. The newsletter should serve as a platform to recognize and celebrate the successes and efforts of students.
  • Highlight upcoming events, field trips, special projects, or classroom activities in the newsletter. This not only keeps the students informed but also generates excitement and anticipation. Include details about the purpose, date, and expectations for each event, ensuring that the entire class remains engaged and involved.
  • Encourage students to contribute articles, stories, poems, or artwork to the newsletter. This allows them to showcase their unique talents and interests, fostering a sense of ownership and pride in their work. Students can write about topics they are passionate about or share their personal experiences related to classroom activities.

#7 Reward Coupons

Motivate and reward your students with the exciting Reward Coupons strategy. This strategy involves designing and distributing personalized reward coupons that students can redeem for special privileges or small treats. By offering these coupons as incentives, you create a positive reinforcement system that encourages positive behavior and academic achievements. Here are some ways to implement this strategy effectively:

  • Create visually appealing coupons that reflect the desired rewards. Use colorful designs, illustrations, and catchy phrases to make the coupons attractive and enticing for students. Consider including spaces for students’ names and the date of redemption to personalize the coupons.
  • Determine a variety of rewards that students can choose from when redeeming their coupons. These rewards can include privileges like sitting in a special chair, choosing a preferred activity, extra free time, or small treats like a piece of candy, a sticker, or a special pencil. Tailor the rewards to suit the interests and preferences of your students.
  • Establish a system for distributing the reward coupons. You can hand them out individually when students demonstrate exemplary behavior or achievement, or you can implement a token-based system where students earn coupons by accumulating points or meeting specific goals. Ensure that the distribution process is fair and consistent to maintain a positive and equitable classroom environment.
  • Clearly communicate the guidelines for redeeming the reward coupons. Establish specific rules, such as the number of coupons required for each reward or the time and place for redemption. Make sure students understand the expectations and follow the process to ensure a smooth and organized system.

#8 Interactive Learning Stations

Transform your classroom into an engaging and interactive learning environment with the Interactive Learning Stations strategy. This approach involves setting up various learning stations around the classroom that allow students to explore and engage with different subjects or topics in a hands-on and interactive way. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements and benefits of implementing this strategy:

Interactive Learning Stations Strategy

  • Create visually appealing and organized stations dedicated to specific subjects or topics. Equip each station with relevant materials, resources, and activities that align with the learning objectives. Utilize labels, signs, or visual cues to guide students to the different stations effectively.
  • Provide interactive and hands-on activities at each station to encourage active learning and exploration. These activities can include experiments, puzzles, manipulatives, simulations, or interactive digital tools. Ensure the activities are age-appropriate, engaging, and aligned with the curriculum.
  • Establish a rotational system that allows students to move from one station to another at specified intervals. This ensures that all students have the opportunity to explore each station and receive a well-rounded learning experience. Use timers, signals, or designated transition times to manage the rotations smoothly.

#9 Class Auction

Introducing the Class Auction strategy, a fun and engaging way to motivate students through a unique economic twist. In this approach, students have the opportunity to participate in a class auction where they can bid on desirable items or privileges using classroom currency they earn through demonstrating good behavior and achieving academic milestones. Let’s delve into all the ways you can make this happen:

  • Prepare for the class auction by selecting a variety of enticing items or privileges that students can bid on. These could include small toys, books, art supplies, or special privileges like being the line leader or choosing the class activity. Display the items in an appealing manner, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement.
  • Establish a system for students to earn classroom currency, such as earning points for good behavior, completing assignments, or achieving academic goals. Assign a specific value to each currency unit to determine the bidding power of students during the auction. This currency system reinforces positive behavior and motivates students to actively participate.
  • Explain the rules and procedures of the auction to the students. Provide them with an opportunity to preview the items or privileges available for bidding. Set a clear starting bid for each item and guide students through the bidding process, allowing them to place their bids using their accumulated classroom currency. Encourage strategic thinking and decision-making as students decide how much currency to spend on each item.
  • Facilitate an interactive and engaging auction experience. Encourage students to raise their hands or use designated bidding paddles to place their bids. Create a lively atmosphere by incorporating an auctioneer role, using a gavel, or playing background music. Ensure that the bidding process remains fair and transparent, allowing all students an equal chance to participate.
  • Once the bidding for an item or privilege is complete, announce the highest bidder as the winner. Recognize their successful bid and award them the item or privilege they won. If multiple students are interested in the same item, consider implementing a system that allows for alternative or shared winners, promoting cooperation and negotiation skills.

#10 Role Reversal Day

Prepare for an exciting and transformative strategy: Role Reversal Day! This innovative approach empowers students by giving them the opportunity to become the teachers and take charge of their own learning. During this special day, students step into the role of instructors and share their knowledge with their classmates. More on how you can take the lead in implementing this into the classroom:

Role Reversal Strategy

  • Set aside dedicated time for students to prepare their lessons. Guide them in selecting a topic or subject they feel confident in teaching. Encourage them to plan engaging activities, create visual aids, and gather resources to support their teaching.
  • Provide students with guidance and support as they prepare their lessons. Offer assistance in structuring the content, creating effective lesson plans, and developing teaching materials. Ensure they have access to relevant resources, such as textbooks, online materials, or educational tools.
  • Establish clear expectations and guidelines for classroom behavior on Role Reversal Day. Emphasize the importance of respect, active participation, and attentiveness from both the “teachers” and the “students.” Remind students of their responsibility to create a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
  • Encourage students to provide constructive feedback to their peers after each teaching session. This feedback can focus on strengths, areas for improvement, and suggestions for enhancing the learning experience. Peer feedback promotes reflection, growth, and mutual support among students.
  • Look for opportunities to integrate Role Reversal Day into the existing curriculum. Align the topics chosen by students with the curriculum objectives, allowing them to reinforce their understanding of the subject matter and deepen their knowledge through teaching.

#11 Escape Room Challenge

Here, we have the thrilling Escape Room Challenge strategy, where students embark on an immersive adventure within the classroom, solving puzzles and riddles related to the subject matter to “escape” from a locked room. This strategy promotes critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Here’s how you can implement the Escape Room Challenge:

  • Choose a captivating theme that aligns with the curriculum or specific learning objectives. Create an engaging and visually appealing setting within the classroom, using props, decorations, and appropriate lighting to set the atmosphere.
  • Design a series of puzzles, riddles, and challenges that require students to apply their knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities. Ensure that the puzzles are age-appropriate, progressively challenging, and relevant to the subject matter being taught.
  • Divide students into small teams, encouraging diversity and collaboration. Assign roles within each team, such as a leader, a note-taker, a timekeeper, and a problem solver. This promotes teamwork, communication, and effective delegation of tasks.
  • Provide students with clues or hints when they encounter difficulties. These clues can be obtained by solving additional puzzles or by demonstrating understanding of the subject matter. Ensure that the clues are strategically placed to guide students toward the correct solutions.
  • Set a time limit for the Escape Room Challenge to add excitement and urgency. Display a visible timer in the room to keep teams aware of the remaining time. Track the progress of each team to monitor their performance and offer assistance if needed.

#12 Classroom Currency

Let’s dive into the Classroom Currency strategy, a dynamic system that engages students by creating a virtual economy within the classroom. Through this strategy, students earn and spend classroom currency to acquire various items or privileges, fostering a sense of responsibility, motivation, and real-world financial skills. Here’s how you can implement the Classroom Currency system:

  • Create a unique name and design for the classroom currency. It could be coins, dollars, or any other creative representation. Develop colorful and visually appealing currency templates that can be printed and distributed to students.
  • Define a set of criteria or behaviors that allow students to earn classroom currency. This can include academic achievements, good behavior, participation, completing assignments, or demonstrating positive character traits. Establish clear guidelines and expectations to ensure fairness and consistency.
  • Determine a conversion rate for exchanging classroom currency into rewards or privileges. For example, students can accumulate currency over time and exchange it for tangible rewards like small prizes, extra free time, preferred seating, or intangible privileges like choosing a classroom activity or leading a discussion.
  • Introduce a system where students can spend their earned currency. Create a classroom store or auction where students can purchase items or experiences using their accumulated currency. These items can include school supplies, books, toys, or even special privileges like becoming a line leader for the day.
  • Reflection and Evaluation: Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the Classroom Currency system. Seek feedback from students to understand their perspectives and suggestions for improvement. Reflect on how the system impacts student motivation, behavior, and engagement in the classroom.

#13 Class Pet

Ever heard of the the Class Pet strategy? It’s a delightful way to foster responsibility and empathy among students by having a furry or feathery friend as a part of the classroom community. The Class Pet provides an opportunity for students to take turns caring for the pet and earn rewards for their responsible pet care.

Class Pet Strategy

  • Choose a suitable class pet based on factors such as the age group of students, classroom environment, and any relevant regulations or restrictions. Popular options include small animals like hamsters, fish, or reptiles, but make sure to consider allergies and student preferences.
  • Create a pet care schedule where each student or group of students is assigned a specific day or week to take care of the class pet. Responsibilities may include feeding, cleaning the habitat, ensuring the pet’s well-being, and providing appropriate enrichment activities.
  • Clearly communicate care guidelines to students, ensuring they understand how to handle the pet safely and meet its basic needs. Provide written instructions, demonstrations, and opportunities for students to ask questions to ensure the well-being of the pet.
  • Implement a reward system to incentivize responsible pet care. Students can earn rewards, such as special privileges, extra free time, or the opportunity to spend additional time with the class pet, for fulfilling their pet care duties diligently and responsibly.
  • Plan pet-related activities that engage students and promote their connection with the class pet. These can include observing the pet’s behavior, creating artwork inspired by the pet, writing stories or journals about their interactions, or even inviting guest speakers like veterinarians or animal experts to share their knowledge.

#14 Creative Classroom Jobs

Oh, this is a personal favorite – the Creative Classroom Jobs strategy, a fun and engaging approach to promote student ownership and responsibility within the classroom. By assigning unique and creative job titles to students, such as “Director of Fun,” “Chief Organizer,” or “Inventor Extraordinaire,” you empower them to take on specific responsibilities related to their roles. Here’s how you can implement the Creative Classroom Jobs strategy:

Creative Classroom Jobs Strategy

  • Begin by brainstorming a list of creative job titles that align with various tasks and responsibilities within the classroom. Consider the needs of your classroom community and the interests and strengths of your students. Allow students to express their preferences for specific roles, ensuring a fair and inclusive selection process.
  • Create job descriptions for each role, clearly outlining the tasks, responsibilities, and expectations associated with the job. Provide students with a comprehensive understanding of what their role entails, as well as any specific guidelines or deadlines they need to follow.
  • To provide opportunities for all students to experience different roles, establish a rotation system where students switch jobs periodically. This ensures that everyone has a chance to take on different responsibilities and develop a diverse skill set.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the efforts and contributions of students in their assigned roles. Highlight their accomplishments during class discussions, recognize their achievements through certificates or badges, or allocate special privileges or rewards for exceptional performance.

#15 Interactive Technology

Out with the old, in with the Interactive Technology strategy, a dynamic approach to enhance student engagement and motivation through the integration of interactive technology tools in the classroom. By incorporating educational apps, online platforms, and other interactive tools, you can create an immersive and interactive learning experience for your students. See how easily you can incorporate interactive technologies in the classroom:

  • Research and explore a variety of educational apps and online platforms that align with your teaching goals and subject matter. Look for tools that offer interactive features, gamification elements, and real-time feedback to keep students actively engaged in the learning process. With the fast-changing landscape of technology, be sure to keep an eye out for AI-powered ones that could easily increase your day-to-day productivity by a mile!
  • Utilize interactive quiz tools to create engaging assessments and formative feedback opportunities. These quizzes can be customized to suit the learning objectives and difficulty level of your students, promoting active participation and knowledge retention.
  • Use interactive polling tools to gather real-time feedback from students during lessons. This allows you to gauge student understanding, identify areas of improvement, and adjust your teaching accordingly.
  • Implement gamification elements into your lessons to make learning more enjoyable and motivating. Create leaderboards, award points, or provide virtual rewards to recognize student achievements and encourage healthy competition.
  • Utilize interactive presentation tools that allow students to interact with the content directly. This can include drag-and-drop activities, clickable elements, or multimedia integration to provide an immersive learning experience.

Good news – the world of EdTech is bursting with countless options , just like a grocery store aisle. If you’re looking for a one-app-fits-all tool, then you should definitely give ClassPoint a try!

ClassPoint revolutionizes the way you teach by seamlessly integrating into Microsoft PowerPoint, elevating your presentations to a whole new level. With its comprehensive set of features, including interactive quizzing tools, advanced annotations during slide shows, an automated reward system , and AI-assisted technology , ClassPoint transforms your classroom into an engaging and efficient learning environment. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance student engagement, motivation, and overall teaching effectiveness with ClassPoint!

#16 Virtual Reality

Buckle your students up for a ride with the Virtual Reality Experiences strategy, a captivating way to transport students to new places and provide immersive learning opportunities through the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets or 360-degree videos. With this strategy, students can embark on virtual field trips, explore historical landmarks, dive into the depths of the ocean, or even visit outer space without leaving the classroom.

Virtual Reality Strategy

  • Acquire VR headsets or utilize 360-degree video platforms that are compatible with your classroom technology. Ensure the headsets are age-appropriate, comfortable, and provide a safe and immersive experience. Familiarize yourself with the VR software and content available for educational purposes.
  • Explore a wide range of VR experiences and 360-degree videos relevant to your curriculum or topics of interest. Look for content that aligns with the learning goals and engages students in a meaningful way. Virtual field trips, historical reconstructions, cultural explorations, and scientific simulations are just a few examples.
  • Provide guidance during the VR experiences by offering prompts or questions that encourage students to actively observe, reflect, and engage with the content. After the virtual experience, facilitate discussions or reflective activities to deepen their understanding and connections to the real-world applications of what they have seen.
  • Encourage students to create their own 360-degree videos or VR experiences. They can research and plan a virtual tour, develop a scientific simulation, or create interactive storytelling experiences. This empowers students to become creators and further enha

#17 Collaborative Projects

It’s time to try the Collaborative Projects strategy, a dynamic approach to fostering teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity among students. With collaborative projects, students have the opportunity to work together in groups, tackling real-world challenges or engaging in innovative ventures. Here are some among the many ways you hack yourself into this strategy:

Collaborative Projets Strategy

  • Choose projects that align with your curriculum objectives and encourage critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Consider topics that are relevant and meaningful to students, allowing them to apply their knowledge and skills in practical ways. Projects could range from designing sustainable solutions to local environmental issues, creating a multimedia presentation on a historical event, or developing a prototype for a useful invention.
  • Form groups strategically, considering factors such as diverse skill sets, interests, and personalities. Aim for balanced group dynamics, promoting a mix of leadership, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Consider incorporating both individual and group accountability to ensure equal participation and contributions.
  • Plan opportunities for groups to showcase their collaborative projects to the class, school, or community. This could involve presentations, exhibitions, or demonstrations where students share their solutions, insights, or innovations. Celebrate the accomplishments of each group, recognizing their efforts and the valuable skills they have developed throughout the project.

#18 Classroom Challenges

Liven up the classroom from routinary classroom set-ups with the Classroom Challenges strategy, a captivating way to motivate students and encourage them to achieve specific goals in various subjects. Classroom challenges provide an exciting framework for students to engage in activities that enhance their skills and knowledge while earning rewards along the way. Here’s how you can implement the Classroom Challenges strategy:

Classroom Challenges Strategy

  • Choose challenges that align with your curriculum and learning objectives. Consider subjects like reading, math, science, or even creative projects. Ensure the challenges are appropriately challenging yet attainable, catering to the diverse abilities and interests of your students. For example, a reading challenge could involve reading a certain number of books within a specific timeframe, while a math challenge could focus on solving a set of complex problems.
  • Clearly define the goals and guidelines of each challenge. Communicate the specific criteria for successful completion, such as the number of books to be read, the accuracy of math solutions, or the completion of a creative project. Make sure the goals are measurable and provide a sense of accomplishment when achieved.
  • Implement a system to track students’ progress throughout the challenges. This could involve a chart, a digital platform, or individual progress logs. Allow students to visually see their progress and the progress of their peers, creating a sense of friendly competition and motivation.
  • Keep the challenges fresh and engaging by introducing new variations or extensions. This could include different levels of difficulty, collaborative challenges, or interdisciplinary challenges that combine multiple subjects. Allow students to suggest their own challenge ideas, promoting ownership and creativity.

#19 Positive Affirmations

Nothing that a little kindness couldn’t fix! The Positive Affirmations strategy is a powerful way to uplift and motivate students at the beginning of each class, fostering a positive tone and mindset for the day ahead. Positive affirmations are simple, empowering statements or inspirational quotes that affirm students’ worth, abilities, and potential. Easily foster the culture for positivity with these ways:

Positive Affirmations Strategy

  • Begin each class by dedicating a few minutes to positive affirmations. This ritual sets the tone for the day, creating a supportive and encouraging environment for students. You can lead the affirmation session or invite students to take turns sharing their favorite affirmations.
  • Select a variety of positive affirmations that resonate with your students. Consider affirmations that promote self-confidence, resilience, growth mindset, kindness, and perseverance. Ensure the affirmations are age-appropriate and relevant to your students’ needs and interests. You can find a wealth of affirmations online or create your own based on your knowledge of your students.
  • Enhance the impact of affirmations by sharing personal stories or examples related to the affirmation’s theme. For instance, if the affirmation is about resilience, share a story of someone who overcame challenges through perseverance. This personal touch helps students connect with the affirmations on a deeper level.
  • Create visual displays of affirmations in the classroom to serve as constant reminders. Display them on bulletin boards, posters, or whiteboards where students can easily see and reflect upon them. You can even encourage students to contribute their own affirmations or decorate the displays to make them visually appealing.
  • Engage students in reflective activities that reinforce the affirmations’ messages. For example, you can ask students to write journal entries about how a specific affirmation resonates with them or how they have applied it in their lives. This encourages introspection and helps students internalize the positive messages.
  • Create individual affirmation cards that students can keep with them throughout the day. These can be small cards with an affirmation written on one side and a visually appealing design on the other. Students can refer to these cards whenever they need a reminder of their strengths and potential.

#20 Mindfulness Moments

Keep it all together with the Mindfulness Moments strategy, a valuable approach to incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily classroom routine. Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally bringing attention to the present moment with an attitude of openness and non-judgment. By integrating mindfulness moments into your teaching, you can help students cultivate focus, reduce stress, and enhance their overall well-being. More on how you can nail this:

  • Begin each class or transition with a short guided meditation. This can involve guiding students through a series of calming breaths or leading them in a relaxation exercise. There are various resources available, including recorded guided meditations or scripts you can use as a guide.
  • Teach students simple breathing exercises that promote relaxation and focus. One example is the “4-7-8” technique, where students inhale deeply for four counts, hold their breath for seven counts, and exhale slowly for eight counts. Encourage students to practice these breathing exercises during transitions or whenever they feel the need to center themselves.
  • Integrate mindful activities into the curriculum to engage students in the present moment. For example, you can incorporate mindful coloring, sensory awareness exercises, or mindful eating activities. These activities provide opportunities for students to practice mindfulness while also enhancing their creativity and sensory awareness.
  • Designate a specific area in the classroom as a calming corner. This space can include comfortable seating, soft lighting, and resources like mindfulness books, sensory tools, or quiet activities. Encourage students to utilize this space when they need a moment to pause, reflect, or engage in a calming activity.
  • Be a role model for mindfulness by practicing it yourself. Demonstrate the techniques, share your experiences, and highlight the benefits of mindfulness. When students see you embracing mindfulness, they are more likely to engage and explore these practices themselves.

In conclusion, implementing effective classroom management strategies can greatly enhance the learning environment and promote student engagement, motivation, and positive behavior. By creating a classroom atmosphere that is fun, interactive, and supportive, you can foster a sense of community and empower your students to thrive academically and socially.

It’s important to remember that effective classroom management is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Continuous assessment to students’ needs, interests, and learning styles is a must to select the strategies that align best with your classroom dynamics. Additionally, adapting and customizing these strategies based on student feedback can further enhance their effectiveness.

As educators, we have the power to create a positive and nurturing environment where students can thrive and reach their full potential. By implementing these classroom management strategies, we can create a space that inspires curiosity, fosters collaboration, and cultivates a love for learning in our students. Together, let’s make the classroom a place where students feel valued, engaged, and empowered to become lifelong learners.

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Problem Solving in the Classroom

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Success Story

Last week during our class meetings, I noticed a disturbing habit developing among my students. Sometimes they don't want to switch seats and move away from their best friends, and sometimes they want to be the last one standing (when we do an activity that has us sit down after our turn). Then we talked about how this might make everyone else feel and how it might affect our class community. We agreed that this was a problem because it did not make everyone feel welcome. Finally, I asked them for suggestions to solve the problem.

We have been working on problem solving all year. I started by teaching my students that solutions always need to be related, respectful, reasonable, and helpful. This is a challenge for students who often think of punishments before solutions. As we started talking about possible solutions to this problem, the first few solutions were not surprisingly more like punishments, such as, having the culprits sit out of future greetings and activities until they were being kind, or skipping offenders in the circle. However, the more we talked, the more they began to consider ways to prevent the problem from even occurring. Eventually we settled on two possible preventative solutions:

1) they could come to the circle separately and choose a place to sit away from close friends so they wouldn't be tempted to resist moving.

2) we could make assigned seats around the circle so that no one would feel uncomfortable about moving if necessary.

At this point, I told the class I would consider both solutions. It seems that I've taught them well about how to solve problems fairly because immediately one student suggested that I let the class vote. It was hard to argue with her logic and truthfully both solutions were acceptable. So this morning we had a vote. I had the kids close their eyes and raise their hands. They voted (20-3) to have assigned seats. When they opened their eyes and I announced the winning solution they started fist pumping with excitement.

I couldn't help but smile. I could never have imagined such a positive reaction to the idea of assigned seats for class activities. In fact, I suspect that had I forced the idea of assigned seats on them as a "punishment" or consequence, I would have heard lots of complaints and frustration. Yet when they could appreciate the problem and come to the solution on their own, they were more than willing to accept the idea. We immediately created a chart with assigned circle seats and by the afternoon they were already reminding each other where they needed to sit. Love it! Sarah Werstuik, Washington, D.C.

Teach Students the 4 Problem-Solving Steps

Another way to solve problems in the classroom is to teach students the 4 Problem-Solving Steps.

Post a copy of the 4 Problem-Solving Steps where students can refer to it (maybe next to a "peace table").

Problem-Solving Steps

  • Do something else. (Find another game or activity.)
  • Leave long enough for a cooling-off period, then follow-up with the next steps.
  • Tell the other person how you feel. Let him or her know you don’t like what is happening.
  • Listen to what the other person says about how he or she feels and what he or she doesn’t like.
  • Share what you think you did to contribute to the problem.
  • Tell the other person what you are willing to do differently.
  • Work out a plan for sharing or taking turns.
  • Put it on the class meeting agenda. (This can also be a first choice and is not meant as a last resort.)
  • Talk it over with a parent, teacher, or friend.

After discussing these skills, have the children role-play the following hypothetical situations. Have them solve each of the situations four different ways (one for each of the steps).

  • Fighting over whose turn it is to use the tetherball.
  • Shoving in line.
  • Calling people bad names.
  • Fighting over whose turn it is to sit by the window in the car or bus.

Teachers can put the Four Problem-Solving Steps on a laminated poster for students to refer to. Some teachers require that children use these steps before they put a problem on the agenda. Other teachers prefer the class meeting process because it teaches other skills. Instead of making one better than the other (class meeting or one-on-one), let children choose which option they would prefer at the moment.

This tool and many others can be found in the Positive Discipline Teacher Tool Cards .

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Internal consistency coefficient \(α\) for the Turkish version of

the scale was .88

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Designing Technology-Mediated Case Learning in Higher Education pp 105–117 Cite as

Teachers’ Learning of Classroom Management Using Teacher-Generated Wiki Cases

  • Choon Lang Gwendoline Quek 3  
  • First Online: 03 January 2023

195 Accesses

Beginning teacher classroom management practices require a conscientious attempt to link theory to application in actual classrooms. In reality, however, a gap has been observed between theory and practice in the classroom management of beginning teachers. This chapter presents research on the development and application of an online resource, a multi-modal platform of ‘case-stories’ of beginning teachers in Singapore. A proposed model of Wiki case-based learning (CBL) was conceptualised by adapting Kirschner’s framework of pedagogical, social and technical aspects for use in Singapore teacher education. Preliminary findings and potential future work are presented from the teachers’ point of view.

  • Beginning teachers
  • Case-based learning
  • Classroom management
  • Teacher-generated classroom cases
  • Technology-mediated learning environment

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Quek, C.L.G. (2022). Teachers’ Learning of Classroom Management Using Teacher-Generated Wiki Cases. In: Quek, C.L.G., Wang, Q. (eds) Designing Technology-Mediated Case Learning in Higher Education. Springer, Singapore.

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Conflict management strategies in coping with students’ disruptive behaviors in the classroom: Systematized review

Tayebeh mahvar.

1 Nursing Care Research Center and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Aidin aryankhesal.

2 Health Management and Economics Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Health services Management, School of Health Management and Information Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Classroom management is leading the class by setting the class schedule, organizing the procedures, supervising the learners’ progress, and predicting and solving their problems. Students’ disruptive behaviors and classroom management are the most important challenges and concerns of the teachers. The current review aimed to analyze the classroom management techniques and strategies used to cope with the students’ disruptive behaviors.

The present study was systematic review. The articles in Science Direct, PubMed and Scopus databases and Google Scholar search engine were searched using the keywords of classroom management, students’ disruptive behaviors, difficult students, and confrontation strategies during 2000-2017. A total of 31 articles were included in the study for analysis.

The results showed all the techniques and strategies used and teachers’ challenges in dealing with students’ disruptive behaviors were included in conflict management strategies, which were classified into three categories, i.e. cooperative and problem solving strategies, avoidance strategies and punishment strategies. Moreover, the studies mostly emphasized the use of cooperative and problem solving strategies, and the most highlighted methods were making effective mutual communication with students to correct their negative behavior, training and preparing the teachers for dealing with the students’ disruptive behaviors and using various teaching methods and approaches based on the classroom situation.


To cope with the challenges of students’ disruptive behaviors, the teachers can use different strategies. Also, sufficient knowledge and skills about teaching, familiarity with the relevant and influential disciplines in dealing with students and making effective communication in the class can be helpful in developing and enjoying more effective skills in classroom management.


Disruptive behavior in classrooms is a significant challenge for learning in schools and risk factor for the students' academic achievement and a significant source of teachers' work related stress ( 1 ). In the last two decades, the learners’ behaviors have changed a lot, involving the teachers in educational centers in a significant behavioral challenge ( 2 ). Classroom management is done by the teacher to create discipline and motivation and to attract the students’ cooperation in the learning process. If the teachers cannot manage their class by various teaching techniques, the teaching process will result in failure ( 3 , 4 ). Classroom management is a term that teachers use to guarantee a teaching process free of problems, even with the presence of the students’ disruptive behaviors. This term is defined as prevention of the incidence of behaviors that are probably the most difficult aspects of teaching for the teachers ( 5 ).

On the other hand, teaching is a complicated process in which the teachers have to win the hearts of the students and even feel themselves attached to the unruly students ( 6 ). This winning of the hearts occurs via interpersonal interactions. Studies have shown that the teachers who support the development of such relationships encounter less behavioral problems in their classroom on the part of the students and experience a better academic performance ( 7 ).

The learners’ behavioral problems are challenging in all academic levels. Destructive behavior refers to the repetition and persistence in the behaviors of some students that disrupt the teachers’ teaching and students’ learning ( 8 ).

Most studies have shown that the learners’ misbehaviors and classroom management are one of the biggest challenges and concerns of teachers ( 9 ). Disciplinary problems also cause academic failure in the larners and have a negative impact on the academic atmosphere and learning in the classroom ( 10 ). According to most teachers, if behavioral problems occur frequently in the classroom, making communication during teaching is disturbed ( 11 ), teachers will not be able to teach, and learners will not be able to learn. Nowadays, the educational psychologists believe that effective classroom management can promote the learners’ learning opportunities ( 12 ). Every educator, instead of getting angry, insulting the students and sending them out of class in the face of encountering disruptive behavior, can use effective classroom management strategies ( 13 ). Teachers should learn the claroom managemnet startegeis and apply the most efficient ones based on the conditions ( 14 ).

The vital components of teachers’ preparation are knowledge and skills about the students’ education and familiarity with relevant and effective fields of study to bring about efficient development and familiarity with unconventional cases and classroom management skills ( 5 ).

Moreoevr, teachers need to be fully prepared to confront the challenges inside the classroom ( 15 ). Different studies have sporadically investigated the classroom managemnt techniques and confrontation strategies for the students’ disruptive behaviors ( 16 ). However, few stduies have analyzed these methods. In the last two decades, a global movement by the redsearchers and policymakers has been initiated to stduy the factors involved in making the educational systems more efficient ( 17 ). Hence, the present research aimed to review the techniques and strategies used in classroom managemnt to cope with the stduents’ disruptive behaviors.

The present review employed a systematized, evidence-based approach. This method includes one or more characteristics of a systematic review, but it does no claim to present the same results as a systematic review does. In this study, the articles were not assessed qualitatively ( 18 ). To use the content of articles based on the study objectives, the content of each paper was studied several times and the teachers’ strategies in coping with the stduents’ disruptive behaviors were extracted and classified separately. The Science Direct, PubMed and Scopus databases and Google Scholar search engine were searched using the keywords of classroom management, students’ disruptive behavior, difficult students and confrontation strategies; the articles published from 2000 to 2017 were selected. This period was chosen because ( 19 ) of inevitable changes in education, teaching/learning methods, classroom management and prevalence of electronic equipment like computer and cell phone in the last two decades ( 20 ).

The inclusion criteria of the articles, in addition to the period 2000-2017, consisted of focus of stduy on the problems or challenges proposed in classroom management, access to full-text articles, and papers written in English language. The exclusion criteria comprised of abstracts without the text and articles focusing on course content management instead of classroom managemnet. Searching was performed by two researchers. First, the title and abstract of the articles were studied and irrelevant papers were detected. Then, the full-text artiles focusing on the challenges and problems of classroom managemnt and stdudents’ disruptive behaviors were retrieved and analyzed. The papers whose full-text was not accessible or whose language was other than English were excluded from the study. In the case of contradiction between the two researchers’ viewpoints on one article, a third researcher was asked to make decision about the given paper. The extracted data from the resources were organized and summarized, and the expressions from original articles used by the authors were used ( 19 ). ( Table 1 , Figure 1 )

Search strategy in different databases

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Object name is JAMP-6-102-g001.jpg

Flow diagram of the systematic review

From among 153 articles searched in databases, 31 were included in the final analysis ( Table 2 ). As shown, most of the studies were conducted in the United States and the most frequently used research method was survey. Furthermore, the conflict management strategies that teachers used for the students’ disruptive behaviors were classified into three categories, including cooperative and problem solving strategies, avoidance strategies and punishment strategies, as shown in Table 3 .

Characteristics of the articles included in the study

Teachers’ strategies in coping with students’ disruptive behaviors

The aim of this study was a Review of Conflict Management Strategies Teachers for disturbing behaviors the students use in the classroom.

A factor that disturbed the classroom management was controversial issues between the teacher and students. There are numerous strategies for solving this problem. With respect to the situations and circumstances, the instructor should use the most effective strategy in that position. According to its results, it is one of the strategies which are very effective in eliminating the contradiction, the existence of order in the effectiveness of teacher teaching. A classroom teacher can provide a good learning environment for students.

In cooperative and problem solving strategies, problem solving is a purposeful behavior that requires an appropriate mental manifestation of the problem. Then, appropriate methods and strategies are needed to promote the problem from the initial stage to a desirable and purposeful status, during which the students’ active participation is highly emphasized because the students share and set up the activities. Based on the collected data, the following strategies are indicative of these kinds of strategies ( 21 ). One of the significant strategies in conflict management in the classroom is employing disciplinary strategy. This strategy should be used along with promotion of accountability and its reinforcement in students by involving the students in the subject of class and encouraging them to negotiate and discuss. Discipline is necessary for creating a favorable ground to prevent the students’ misuse and deviation from the learning process ( 22 ). Teachers also need to equip themselves with two aspects of science and skills, especially in the field of classroom education, and get familiar with its principles so that they can pursue learning goals.

Designing a lesson plan with clear expectations adjusted to the course objectives, in addition to creating discipline, is a strategy that can prevent conflicts due to indefinite expectations. Also, making more time for the students and having an intimate relationship with them are techniques that reduce challenging behaviors in students ( 23 ). Using positive reinforcement and encouragement, maintaning proper behaviors, using simple and effective educational methods and clarity of class rules have been suggested to be helpful. In this regard, the use of multiple techniques in appropriate circumstances is an effective way to advance the teaching process ( 24 ). Unity of teachers over classroom mangemnt and educational planning has been suggested to prevent confrontation with the students’ disruptive behaviors ( 25 ).

Factors such as the students being late to class, leaving the class early and using the class time for irrelevant conversation with the teacher can disrupt the classroom process and negatively affect the other students’ satisfaction. In such conditions, teachers are suggested to set attendance rules at the beginning of their class and encourage the students to focus on the course by using their verbal skills ( 26 ). Teachers should also talk to these stduents in a quiet and private environemnt with respect and explain the effect of disruptive behvaiors on the classroom. They also need to mention the rules of disruptive behaviors and provide the stduents with a chance to improve or stop their disruptive behaviors ( 27 ).

Other issues that need to be considered in creating discipline and regulations are culture and gender. Studies have shown a relationship between gender and students’ behavior in the classroom, and boys have been reported to have a more destructive behavior than the girls. Studies have also indicated that the teachers’ behavior in coping with students is different depending on their gender, and boys receive more negative feedback than the girls from their teachers ( 28 ).

The teachers’ report of students’ disruptive behaviors has been found to be associated with the teachers’ gender, their experience and field of work ( 29 ). The female teachers face more students’ misbehavirs than the male counterparts. In this regard, the cooperation of school adminidtators and teachers can be effecive in controlling the students’ disruptive behaviors ( 30 ).

Further, diverse disciplinary strategies are used differently in various cultures and nations, and cultural factors and differences among countries dictate different behaviors in dealing with students. For example, the cultural differences related to respect for men and women, disciplinary strictness and military interventions in various countries affect classroom management ( 31 ). Therefore, familiartity with cultural differences and using cooperative and problem solving strategies depending on the cultural values of every educational institution are of great importance.

Using learning strategies, classroom management by the teacher, creating stronger bonds among the students and establishing an interactive educational environment can be helpful in coping with students’ disruptive behaviors ( 32 , 33 ).

Making a mutual relationship creates a ground for teacher-student interaction during the teaching period, in which the teacher will not spend time on unnecessary issues. The more a teacher’s knowledge of learners, the more he/she will be logical in dealing with their different personality types. Effective claroom management depends on the teacher’s ability in using an appropriate tone and encouraging the learners to cooperate in the classroom ( 22 ). Effecive comminicaion helps to clarify the facts and reduce the chance of conflict. Effective communication means both stduents and teachers need to talk clearly and listen carefully and exchange ideas in order to come to a mutual understanding ( 14 ). If the instructor cannot communicate effectively with learners, one cannot expect to be able to provide classroom conditions for more learning. The observance of this principle will increase the student's psychological safety and will follow the presence of a space with mutual respect of professors and students.

Skills such as emotional intelligence can reduce the negative effects of stress in students. This kind of intelligence helps human beings through the management of interpersonal and intrapersonal communications. Accordingly, a student can better receive help from a teacher by virtue of better communication with him/her ( 34 ).

Studies have sown that some students’ misbehaviors ocuur due to the teacher’s lack of attention to the students’ talks and absence of skill in guiding the class discussion. From the stduents’ viewpoint, these behaviors can disturb the students’ learning and teacher’s teaching ( 35 ).

Some stdueis have indicated that talking out of turn, daydreaming, inanity, disrespect toward teachers and verbal aggression, use of electronic machines like cell phone to send text message, games, surfing the web and listening to music are current classroom problems. These problems are indicative of this reality that stduents do not have proper learning attitudes and values and are tired, lazy and unmotivated. Teachers have to make time to manage the classroom and teach problem solving strategies in various classroom situations. Otherwise, such behaviors will occur more frequently and intensely with the passage of time ( 2 ).

To understand the students’ behaviors, teachers need to put themselves in their shoes and make sure other measures are useless before using punishment methods. Proper use of reward can be a positive controller and can help to restore the students’ self-esteem, solve the problem fundamentally, improve the teacher-student relationship, and reduce the possible occurrence of misbehavior in students. The teacher should adopt a friendly approach in the classroom and try not to apply tough, harsh and parental behaviors ( 36 ).

On the other hand, correct implementation of moralities and sensitivity to the ethical issues of the students play a vital role in making effective communication, interpersonal commitments, and social interactions. Sympathy is one of the essential factors involved in ethical commitment that enhances moral sensitivity ( 37 ). Hence, familiarity with and attention to the concept of sympathy and employment of this skill from the very beginning terms and renforcing it in stduents can be helpful in establishing an efficient teacher-stduent communication, thereby preventing the destructive behaviors.

The findings of Yusoff et al. showed that faculties that were responsible for teacher training did not prepare the novice teachers for the management of problematic classes. This is one of the reasons for quitting the profession, especially among the novice teachers ( 38 ).

For the classroom management, teachers have to know that the students’ misbehavior may be due to physical problems, emotional challenges and environemntal factors. Thus, a teacher’s correct recognition of and attention to these factors and preparing the novice teachers will decrease the disorders ( 39 ). Disrespect in the academic environemnt has a negative impact on the health of the teacher and student, weakens the professional communications and inhibits effective learning-teaching process ( 23 ).

In this regard, the teachers’ favorable psychological condition is important for communication with students. Teaching can be stressful and, therefore, diturb the teacher-stduent relationship. Teachers’ recognition and screening of psychological and educational conditions as well as eliminating the problems prior to the strat of teaching can reduce the incidence of communication problems ( 40 ). One of the methods teachers can make use of to deal with the stduents’ disruptive behaviors is the use of counselling and psychotherapeutic methods to create sympathy and describe attitude and negative behavior ( 5 ).

Some studies have suggested working with disruptive students, making time to solve their problems in the classroom and not coping with them are the best and most constructive strategeis in dealing with students ( 39 ). Creating a sense of belonging to the classroom increases the students’ self-confidence and desire for learning. In contrast, adopting punitive strategies and methods has a negative impact on the students ( 22 ).

Assigning responsibility to students with a proper behavior, expressing the trainer’s expectations from the studnets clearly, encouraging the students’ good and positive behaviors, predicting the learners’ behaviors, establishing mutual interaction with the students to correct their negaive behaviors, rewarding the studnets’ behaviors, encouraging postive behaviors, and returing the question to the students have been recommended to be helpful ( 2 ). Furthermore, by understanding the mechanism of the effect of classroom environemnt on the students’ behaviors, the teachers can use this environment to promote learning and better behaviors in students by encouraging participation and concentrating on interaction rather than punishment ( 41 ).

Some studies have suggested the mediating role of another perosn with more experience in dealing with disruptive studnets such as the university dean in order to resolve the conflicting situations in the classroom. Teachers can also use their recommendations and strategeis to resolve the conflicts ( 42 , 43 ).

Teachers believe that they can have more control over the students and prevent their drowsiness by arranging the chairs in a U-shape manner. Also, they can decrease the stduents’ sleepiness by incraesing the number of practical courses, reducing the class hours and not running classes after lunch ( 42 ). For more student-student and techer-stduent communication and interaction, in addition to arranging the chairs in U-shape, the physical environment of classroom like the color of walls and ventilation, which make the students lively and energetic and prevent lethargy and boredom, should be taken into consideration. Encouraging the students is another method that can be effective in classroom ( 44 ).

To prevent the students’ aggressiveness and disruptive behaviors, teaching techniques such as role-playing, active learning strategies, holding conferences with attendance of students and teachers and promotion of civil behaviors for more student participation in the learning process can be helpful ( 45 ).

Presenting the educational course content using appealing and diverse methods can be a successful strategy in handling the students’ aggression. Teaching strategies along with friendship strategies have also been recommended. Interactive teaching strategies and discovering the students’ learning abilities can improve the teacher-student relationship. Further, social skills can improve the teacher-student relationship and largely lead to a safe educational environment ( 42 , 46 ).

Students’ assessment has always been an educational problem and a challenge between teachers and students ( 40 ). Assessment is a process that requires appropriate and specific criteria and tools. Therefore, subjective evaluation cannot accurately show the abilities of stduents and may cause conflicts in teacher-student relationship ( 47 , 48 ).

Research has shown that providinmg the students with self-assessment and using their pespectives in designing the teaching process and plan can be effective in reducing disruptive behaviors and reactions ( 48 ). In this regard, the teachers’ readiness, experience, slef-confidence and self-efficacy in classroom management are of great significance. The management of disruptive behavior and misbehavior depends on the experience and self-efficacy ( 49 , 50 ). Hence, it is necessary to provide additional trainings and prepare the teachers before starting their classes ( 13 ).

Based on this systematic review, avoidance is another strategy. In this type of strategy, individuals avoid conflict or ignore their will for the benefit of others ( 21 ). The teachers’ attitudes in picking misbehavior management strategeis in the classroom are important. Results have shown that teachers that use avoidance strategeis make more use of agression and punishment strategies ( 51 ).

Some studies have recommended that tachers should avoide reaction against disruptive behaviors, avoid overreaction and not succumb to the stduents’ wishes. Moreover, being unresponsive to the disruptive questions in the classroom on the part of the teachers has been suggested ( 2 ).

Furthermore, studies have reported various classifications for the students’ disruptive behaviors in the classroom, and teachers often behave passively and do not react to the moderate disruptive behaviors ( 41 ).

Every teacher in his/her classroom may confront unruly students with disruptive behaviors. Students’ disruptive behaviors can be such instances as sleeping in the class, talking with classmates, talking on the phone, playing online games or even doing aggressive behaviors which can lead to disturbed learning and teacher’s anger ( 52 ). Some of teacher use punishment strategies such as the meaningful looks of the teacher at a learner who is making noise decreases his/her misbehavior. In addition, looking angrily at the learners who have disrupted the classroom makes them listen to the teacher ( 53 ).

Effective communication can be achieved by using appropriate educational behaviors, listening to the stduents and giving equal attention to the stduents by looking at them similarly. A teacher must be a role model. Some teachers consider themselves superior to the studnets and regularly try to humiliate them by sarcastic language, which consequently leads to inefficient educational atmosphere. The result of such an approach is impolite student and reaction to the teacher’s unfair behaviors ( 25 ).

Behaviors like understimating students, fear of teacher and teacehr’s unrealistic expectation from stduents can bring about disruptive behaviors in students. Thus, respect for a successful teaching is neccesary, and the faculty memebrs or teachers play a vital role in creating a respectful educational environment ( 25 , 42 ).

In rare cases, students may insist on doing their disruptive behaviors. In such cases, administrative and disciplinary measures may be required. Taking actions to stop disruptive behaviors, getting students involved in the learning process and preventing other students’ involvement are some strategies that can help the teachers in this regard ( 54 ).

Teachers’ prejudice about the human nature, especially inherent tendencies of the students in using classroom management strategies, is considered significant. A teacher who has negative assumptions about the student’s nature selects the classroom management strategies aiming to control the student by punishment, coercion and reward. On the other hand, teachers who consider the students inherently good control them by discussion, talk and encouragement to do good behaviors ( 38 ).

Criticisms and punishment for misbehavior are strategies that teachers usually use (Sun 2015). Removing students from classroom, administrative referrals, limiting and inhibiting the student’s activity are behaviors that are performed by inefficient teachers ( 24 ).


In this study, only English-language studies were used and limited databases were searched for articles.

Implications for future research and practice:

According to the results of this study, it is recommended that studies should be carried out aiming at identifying and presenting solutions to interrupt the students' disruptive behaviors to more accurately understand these behaviors and solutions to fix these factors. Also, given that the students’ cultural differences and students’ personality can affect the use of these strategies, considering these factors is important in future studies.

The findings of this research showed that studies mostly focus on using cooperative and problem solving strategies, and most of the methods emphasized establishing mutual communication and interaction with students to correct their negative behaviors, training and preparing the teachers for coping with students’ disruptive behaviors, and using various teaching methods and approaches based on the classroom situation. Punishment and avoidance strategies like removing students from the class and humiliating them are not recommended.

Having knowledge and skills about education and establishing an effective communication in the classroom can bring about effecive development and familiarity with unconventional cases and classroom management skills. Since unrespectful and threatening behaviors, disrespect and violating the teacher's privacy and the classroom, even minimally, can significantly influence the educational environments, it is necessary to have adequate knowledge about such behaviors. Hence, future interventional stdueis are suggested to identify appropriate strategeis for dealing with these behaviors, and by recognizing the behaviors by the advisors and counseling centers, universities need to try to elimnate these challenges. Furthermroe, meetings on reforming the curricula, assessment methods and content of curriculum are required to be held to meet the professional needs and modify professional communications. Group discussions are also advised to attract diferent perspectives, exchange ideas and teach stress control techniques.


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Is Your AI-First Strategy Causing More Problems Than It’s Solving?

  • Oguz A. Acar

problem solving in classroom management

Consider a more balanced and thoughtful approach to AI transformation.

The problem with an AI-first strategy lies not within the “AI” but with the notion that it should come “first” aspect. An AI-first approach can be myopic, potentially leading us to overlook the true purpose of technology: to serve and enhance human endeavors. Instead, the author recommends following 3Ps during an AI transformation: problem-centric, people-first, and principle-driven.

From technology giants like Google to major management consultants like McKinsey , a rapidly growing number of companies preach an “AI-first” strategy. In essence, this means considering AI as the ultimate strategic priority , one that precedes other alternative directions. At first glance, this strategy seems logical, perhaps even inevitable. The figures speak for themselves: the sheer volume of investment flowing into AI technologies shows the confidence levels in an increasingly AI-driven future.

problem solving in classroom management

  • Oguz A. Acar is a Chair in Marketing at King’s Business School, King’s College London.

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