September 20, 2013

Rigor in the Classroom

Improving Instruction in Schools

mev72017_wThe Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) research into rigor in the classroom centers on cutting-edge best practices to improve instruction in schools. With the onslaught of the Common Core State Standards, educators are expected to add more rigor into their classrooms. Yet, in many instances, rigor has not been adequately defined and may not be understood.

Author Barbara Blackburn defines rigor as, ‘creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.’

Far too often, educators associate rigor with making tasks more difficult or instituting rigid academic scheduling. However, rigor is not a matter of increasing the level of difficulty or activity. It is more about teachers fostering a deeper understanding for students. Adding more rigor to classrooms will ideally make student learning more exciting, more alive, and more relevant.

CEI’s research in this area focuses on four topics:

  • Metacognition
  • Student goal setting
  • Deep conceptual understanding
  • Problem solving

By synthesizing the implications of academic research on rigor in the classroom, CEI identifies and disseminates educational interventions enabling elementary and middle school leaders to develop self-directed individuals who are self-reflective, self-modifying and self-managing. We also focus on cutting-edge best practices that are transferable within and across subjects–entailing teaching beyond knowledge and skills to a deeper understanding of concepts, generalizations, and principles that sit at the heart of disciplines.