Monitoring Student Learning in the Classroom

April 2019
teacher helping a student in a classroom

This classic brief by Researcher Kathleen Cotton describes the careful monitoring of student learning in the classroom as one of the major factors differentiating effective schools and teachers from ineffective ones. Originally published in 1988 by Education Northwest (known then as the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory), this brief remains popular with thousands of downloads each year.

The brief looks at the research available at the time on activities pursued by teachers to keep track of student learning for purposes of making instructional decisions and providing feedback to students on their progress.

It includes strategies related to classroom monitoring such as:

  • Questioning and other learning probes
  • Seatwork and homework
  • Classroom reviews
  • Classroom testing
  • Reviewing student performance data

Additional sections look at the common elements across mentoring methods, teachers' skills in monitoring student learning and effective monitoring practices.

This brief originally appeared as part of the School Improvement Research Series. We acknowledge that the research and terminology have evolved since original publication and provide it as a foundational piece for educators exploring formative assessment, data monitoring and strategies for providing student feedback.

Download Brief