Muriel Rand

College/University Professor

Jersey City, NJ

Interests: Classroom management,...

  • Posted 6 Years ago
  • 26k

The Seven C's of Effective Teaching

I recently attended an educational assessment conference in which Ronald Ferguson from the Harvard Kennedy School was the keynote speaker. He is an educational researcher who presented his work on teacher effectiveness. This research shows that there are seven C’s that make a difference in the learning environment:

Caring about students (nurturing productive relationships);

Controlling behavior (promoting cooperation and peer support);

Clarifying ideas and lessons (making success seem feasible);

Challenging students to work hard and think hard (pressing for effort and rigor);

Captivating students (making learning interesting and relevant);

Conferring (eliciting students’ feedback and respecting their ideas);

Consolidating (connecting and integrating ideas to support learning).

The most interesting part of his presentation was his work on the Tripod project with Cambridge University in which they survey children about their teacher to assess whether or not students agree with a variety of statements designed to measure these seven teaching practices.  Here are some examples of the questions. The children are asked whether or not these statements are true of their class:thinking and raising hands.jpg

Caring about students: “The teacher in this class encourages me to do my best.”

Captivating students: “This class keeps my attention – I don't get bored.”

Conferring with students:  My teacher gives us time to explain our ideas.”

Controlling behavior : “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.”

Clarifying lessons: “When I am confused, my teacher knows how to help me understand.”

Challenging students: “My teacher wants us to use our thinking skills, not just memorize things.”

Consolidating knowledge: My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day.

The researchers have found that asking children about the effectiveness of their teacher is more reliable than observational ratings of teachers – primarily because the children see their teachers every single day, not just for an observational lesson. (In other words, the ratings of different classes of children with the same teacher are more similar than not, and student ratings from one year to the next are more similar than observational ratings). Here are some other interesting findings:

  •  Teaching in some classrooms is much more effective than in others at fostering the Seven C’s learning conditions
  • Student perceptions of classroom practice on Seven C’s dimensions can help in predicting learning outcomes
  • The “Controlling behavior” learning condition (culture of cooperation and peer support) was most closely associated with student achievement

So this made me think about how helpful it would be to ask children for feedback to help us improve. Even young children participated in the surveys, which were adapted to be done face-to-face using a simpler rating scale (such as happy and sad face pictures). This could be a great week to listen to your children’s voices and get their perceptions of the learning environment in your class! Have you formally surveyed your students about how things are going in your classroom? Please share your experiences with us!


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03 Dec 12, 01:05 PM

In an effort to become a more conscience reflective practioner, I have begun to look for a variety of ways to begin to incorporate my student's views and opinions into this process.  I appreciate your sharing these ideas of effective teaching practices as well as the student survey.  I am giving this survey to my students and asking that they provide at least one example to support their answer.  I am also asking for suggestions for how they would suggest that I could incorporate more of these elements into our daily class routine and my teaching practices.  It will be extremely interesting to review the results as well as begin to incorporate some of their suggestions.

Tonya Thompson


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31 Jul 12, 05:50 PM

Muriel, I welcome the information you shared. I do agree that the seven C's would indeed make a difference. I believe that it is indeed more reliable to ask students to evaluate the effectiveness of their teacher, since it would be a true reflection of the teacher. Thank you for sharing this information. I do intend to have my students evaluate my effectiveness. I would update you on how things are going.


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22 Mar 12, 10:50 AM

Muriel: This is very much in alignment with Marzano's research and thoughts as well. I, just this year, have started giving my students brief anonymous surveys asking the same type of questions you presented in your post. It has been very helpful to me to have the students respond honestly and truthfully without reservation. Definitely apply this practice.

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20 Mar 12, 11:10 PM

It was fun to meet you at the conference. Thanks for posting this. I haven't quit talking about Dr. Ferguson's 7 C's since I returned this week. Very thought provoking project and one that has implications for teacher preparations and beyond.

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21 Mar 12, 02:57 PM

Thanks Louise! As you can see, I was very impressed with Ron Ferguson's work. Let's keep in touch!

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