Responsive Classroom

An Effective Practice


Responsive Classroom is a multicomponent approach to instruction and classroom management designed to promote prosocial behavior and academic functioning in elementary school students. The approach is based on educational theories regarding the importance of learning as a social activity. That is, Responsive Classroom stresses the importance of how children learn with an emphasis on learning through interaction, of teachers getting to know the students and their families on a personal level, and of teaching social skills such as cooperation, responsibility, self-control. The program's six components, developed by educators, concentrate on classroom organization, morning meetings, rules and consequences, academic choice, guided discovery, and communication with parents.

Goal / Mission

The approach was developed with the goals of increasing student investment, responsibility, and learning and decreasing problem behaviors.

Results / Accomplishments

Three unpublished studies have evaluated the Responsive Classroom approach with white, African-American, and Latino students from prekindergarten through sixth grade. In several studies of Responsive Classroom, the program was perceived to have a positive effect on increasing social skills and on limiting problem behaviors in students. The longest study, reported here, included 6 months of the intervention. In this study, results indicate that the Responsive Classroom approach had a positive impact on students' social and academic behaviors. Teachers, parents, and students in the RC condition reported positive changes in the average frequency of social skills from fall to spring compared with NRC reports, which indicated virtually no change or a decrease in social skills during the same period. Notably, no control group parents were surveyed. Regarding academic improvement, scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills showed significantly greater growth for the RC students. Further, regression analyses suggested that social skills may function as academic enablers for students. Teachers reported that they liked the approach and perceived it to be effective but found it difficult to implement. It was suggested that this approach takes time to learn to implement. The small size of the control group, relative to the treatment group, is a limitation.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Sadie Fischesser, Manager of Strategic Initiatives
Northeast Foundation for Children
85 Avenue A, Suite 204
P.O. Box 718
Turners Falls, MA 01376-0718
(800) 360-6332
Education / School Environment
Education / Student Performance K-12
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
Northeast Foundation for Children
Date of publication
Target Audience