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What is Kagan Cooperative Learning?

Kagan Structures for Engagement and Achievement! KaganUK is all about engagement! Central to all KaganUK workshops are Kagan Structures. You've probably heard of some popular Kagan Structures including Numbered Heads Together, Timed Pair Share, RallyRobin, and Quiz-Quiz-Trade. Those Kagan Structures, and many more, are now used world-wide from nursery to adult education, in all academic subject areas to boost student engagement and learning.

Kagan Structures produce revolutionary positive results. Teachers, schools, and Trusts now use Kagan Structures to increase academic achievement, improve race relations, enhance self-esteem, create a more harmonious classroom climate, reduce discipline problems, and develop students' social skills and character virtues. How do such simple little teaching strategies have such a profoundly positive effect on so many dimensions of learning? Easy. It's all about engagement!

When students are actively engaged, they pay attention, they're motivated, they learn more, and the learning sticks. The biggest difference between the Kagan approach and teaching using traditional methods is the ability to engage every student. Traditional classroom teaching captures the minds and attention of some students, but not all. Good teachers engage more students. But even the best teachers who use traditional instruction don't require every student to participate. With traditional instruction, there is always a subset of students who fall through the cracks. We're all too familiar with the results: a widening gap between high achievers and low achievers.

Kagan Structures engage every student. In the traditional classroom, the teacher is the hardest working person. At Kagan, we think that's backwards. Students need to work at least as hard! The more they interact with their peers and with the curriculum, the more they'll learn. Kagan Structures require every student to participate frequently and approximately equally. Kagan Structures close the achievement gap by creating dramatic gains for struggling students. But the gains are not bought at the expense of high achievers; they too are engaged in a richer, more interactive learning environment. As brain-research is proving, meaningful engagement is just a better way to reach and teach all students.

Surely, other classroom practices and schoolwide changes can make a positive difference for students. But nothing makes an impact as immediate, powerful, and on so many outcomes as active student engagement. When students are actively engaged on a daily basis, everything changes. Engagement is the key!


Engagement is the reason why veteran teachers who turn to Kagan Structures experience their greatest success ever. Engagement is why low-performing and minority students who use Kagan Structures outperform their peers who don't. Engagement is why students report they like school more, their teachers more, the academic content more, and feel better about themselves, and are less disruptive. Engagement is the reason why principals of failing schools can turn schools around, quickly. Active student engagement gets straight to the root of the problem in many classrooms.

If engagement is the key to good instruction, then why doesn't every teacher actively engage all students? Great question! The answer: Most teachers lack the practical tools they need to make high levels of student engagement a daily reality. By no fault of their own, teachers learned traditional methods, and many are simply unaware of an easier and more effective approach. The power of Kagan Structures is that they distill the best of educational theory and research into very specific, easy-to-use teaching strategies. Mediocre teachers become good. Good teachers become great. And great teachers—well, they're already using Kagan Structures!

Kagan's publications and workshops are based on a research program conducted by Dr. Spencer Kagan beginning in 1968. Dr. Kagan and his associates discovered that children of all ages in many parts of the world acted quite differently when placed in certain types of situations. He could manipulate the interaction patterns of children and make them more cooperative or more competitive. Dr. Kagan applied his findings to education and was a pioneer in the cooperative learning movement. He has dedicated his life's work helping educators create more cooperative, interactive classrooms that produce smarter, more caring and cooperative students. 

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