Jordan Collier

Ratios of Student Engagement

If you have ever attended a Kagan Cooperative Learning workshop, one thing you’ll spend some time discussing is the ratio of overt student engagement. In plain terms, how many students are publicly and openly engaged in the class activity? Once I learned the concept, I always kept it in the back of my mind to help me while planning activities and lessons.

Below are some examples of the types of ratios to consider using a class of 20 students. Directions for three of the activities below can be found here.



Whole class Q & A (teacher asks question and calls on a student to respond)

1 in 20 (5% overtly engaged)

Students working on group project or presenting group project to class (equal involvement of 4 group members)

1 in 5 (20%)

Students working in pairs with clear parameters and equal participation (such as RallyCoach or Timed-Pair-Shares)

1 in 2 (50%)

Students participating in Quiz-Quiz-Trade where they each walk around the room with a review question/answer and pair up with another student to quiz each other.

1 in 1 (100%) or 1 in 2 (50%)

One student reads aloud from the textbook while others follow along

1 in 20 (5%)

Students read aloud from the textbook in pairs

1 in 2 (50%)

Students read aloud from the textbook in pairs— one student reads while the other student takes notes and/or follows with comprehension questions for the reader.

1 in 1 (100%)

Five students write their answers on the board for everyone to check

1 in 4 (25%)

All students write their answers on whiteboards and then explain their answers to a partner

1 in 2 (50%)

Students work in a group of four on an activity without clear roles and expectations for each member 

1 in 4 (25%) up to 1 in 1 (100%) [dependent upon each group]

Teacher lectures while students listen


Students watch a movie without clear purpose and activity


There is no magic number for the perfect ratio of student engagement, but it is always something worth considering when planning lessons. If possible, shoot for 50% or more. Over the next week, let me encourage you to make note of the percent of overtly engaged students, and if possible, look for different ways students can participate simultaneously in class.

If you would like to learn more about Kagan Cooperative Learning activities, I’d be happy to share my book of structures with you and help you implement them in class. Directions for three great strategies can be found here.

Jordan Collier

Jordan Collier

Secondary Principal

Jordan Collier is the secondary principal at CAC. Prior to joining the CAC family in 2011, Jordan was an English teacher for the Cabot School District. Jordan is a two-time graduate of Harding University (’03 and ’08) and has a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Each week, Jordan shares his Friday Thoughts with the CAC faculty and staff, and an excerpt of that is shared on The 'Stang.

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