Engaged Learners Learn More!

June 12, 2012

Faith At Home, Interact, Time

Would you believe me if I told you that educational classroom research has shown that the more a child is engaged with the teacher and curriculum the greater their outcomes in learning?  Of course you would because it makes perfect sense!

The more a learner is actively participating (not just being a passive listener!) the more s/he learns.  It’s a no-brainer!  The specific term that describes learners who are responding to you and interacting with you AND your curriculum is “academic engaged time” or AET.

AET differs from other classroom “time.”  It’s important that you understand the different types of “time” that relate to learning if you want to have maximim impact on your children/youth.  Let me quickly share some other types of classroom “time” so you understand the differences:

  • Available learning time:  the time that the learner walks in your Sunday school classroom until the time s/he walk out.
  • Allotted learning time:  the amount of time that you have set aside for teaching your curriculum.
  • Instructional learning time:  the actual amount of time that the teacher spends in instruction with students.  Note: eductional research shows that instructional learning time is not necessarily the best indicator of success!

The problem with the types of classroom time that I just identified is that they are not an accurate measure of whether learning is taking place or not!

  • Available learning time does not guarantee that a learner is learning anything during the class.  Just because Sunday School is 60-minutes long doesn’t mean that 60-minutes of learning will occur.  Time is available for learning but w/o purposeful instructional activity, learning will not occur.
  • Allotted learning time does not guarantee your learner will learn anything either.  Just because you have allotted 40-minutes for your Sunday School lesson doesn’t mean learning will automatically occur.  Again, w/o purposeful instructional activity occurring during the allotted time, learning will not occur.
  • Instructional learning time sounds good and it is a step in the right direction for transmitting knowledge!  A lot of kids have benefitted from instructional learning time and it’s what most teachers strive for.  However, you need to know that just because you are talking about Jesus and how much He loves them doesn’t mean that kids are “absorbing it!”  They could easily be daydreaming about a multitude of things.  Why?  Because they are not engaged with you or the curriculum.

Despite our obsession with time, little attention is paid to HOW time is used in the Sunday School classroom!  It’s beneficial and more productive to spend your energy on the specific type of “time” that will produce maximum results.  “Academic engaged time” produces maximum results because learners are responding to you and interacting with you and your curriculum.  They are engaged.

Spiritual development is what you’re striving for with your kids/youth.  So why not implement 2 simple strategies for creating engaged time with your learners?  These 2 strategies are easy to implement, no cost/little cost, kids enjoy them, and either one of these strategies will provide you instantaneous feedback about who’s learning and who isn’t!  

Want to learn what these 2 strategies are?  Then stay tuned for my next blog post!

If you want to be notified when it’s posted then either subscribe to our blog or click “like” on our Special Friends Ministry facebook page today!

Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA CPI

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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