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Jacob Kounin: Instructional Management. By Aimee Chard and Rebecca Godbout. Biography. Started his career as an educational psychologist at Wayne State University in 1946. He is best known for his studies completed in the 1970’s on classroom management.

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jacob kounin instructional management

Jacob Kounin:Instructional Management

By Aimee Chard and Rebecca Godbout

  • Started his career as an educational psychologist at Wayne State University in 1946.
  • He is best known for his studies completed in the 1970’s on classroom management.
  • Kounin’s studies took place over 5 years and he experimented on college, high school and elementary school aged students.
  • Research was based on video tapes on 80 elementary school classrooms.
  • Wrote a book called “Discipline and Group Management in Classrooms,” which summarized the behaviours of classroom managers.
biography continued
Biography Continued
  • He found that organization and planning are keys to good classroom management.
  • Teachers need good lesson movement.
central tenets of theory
Central Tenets of Theory
  • Kounin believed in proactive behaviour on the part of the teacher and high levels of student involvement.
  • The relationship between effective management and effective teaching is maintained through withitness, overlapping, momentum, smoothness and group focus.
ripple effect
Ripple Effect
  • Kounin believes that how a teacher handles one student’s misbehaviour influences the other students who were not misbehaving.
  • DESIST: “When a teacher reprimands one student and other students stop their inappropriate behavior also”.


  • The teacher knows what is going on in the classroom at all times.
  • Ability the teacher has to know what the students are doing in the classroom at all times.
  • The ability to attend to multiple things at the same time.
  • Overlapping is closely related to withitness, without one effectiveness would be reduced.
  • When instructing one group, the teacher should be able to acknowledge difficulties that students outside the group are having in such a way that instruction continues.
  • The flow of a lesson.
  • Ability to have steady movement throughout a lesson.
  • The teacher knows what is going to happen next but needs to be prepared for unexpected changes that could occur throughout the day.
  • Maintaining direction in the lesson and not losing focus or being distracted by irrelevant information.
  • Is done by letting students know what is going to happen next in class and sticking to it (example: agenda for the day is on the front board for students to see and is followed by the teacher).
  • Transitioning from one activity to another without disruptions.

Brad is a grade 5 student in your classroom who will constantly yell out and ask you what activity the class is going to do next while you are teaching lessons. He cannot seem to focus on one activity till he knows what is coming next. Using smoothness, what could you do as a teacher to prevent Brad from yelling out?

maintaining group focus
Maintaining Group Focus
  • Group Alerting: The ability of the teacher to keep all students actively participating and to create interest in the material.
  • Encouraging Accountability: Communicating to students that their participation will be observed or evaluated.
  • High Participation Formats: Using lessons that will define student behavior when they are not directly answering a teacher’s question.


think about this
Think About This…
  • Many of the students in Mr. Jack’s class never finish their work and do not seem interested in his lessons. Which of the following aspects of Kounin’s theory should Mr. Jack work on?
  • Encouraging Accountability
  • Withitness
  • Group Alerting
  • A and C
application of theory into the classroom and special eduation
Application of Theory into the Classroom and Special Eduation
  • Group Alerting:
  • Call on students at random by asking questions (scan the room to be sure that students are paying attention).
  • Move around the room and asking students to show you what they have done
  • For students with special needs, group alerting can help to make the lesson more interesting to them. An example: for a child that has trouble seeing, using different sounds (music) in the lesson can keep them more interested.
theory in the classroom and special education
Theory in the Classroom and Special Education
  • Withitness

-Teacher should be alert to sights and sounds in the classroom

-Arrange desks so that students are within eyesight

-Make sure your back is not to the back of students when working with an individual student

-Acknowledge misbehaviour right away, to let the class know that you know

theory applied to the classroom and special eduation
Theory Applied to the Classroom and Special Eduation
  • Smoothness

-Organize materials before class starts.

-Once students are completing their work, do not distract them.

-Assist with individuals when needed.

- Students with special needs may need more help completing their work, so having a volunteer in the class run more smoothly.

theory applied to the classroom and special education
Theory Applied to the Classroom and Special Education
  • Momentum

-Keep lesson moving at a good pace.

-Teachers should not dwell on an already understood concept.

-Have students move from one activity to another without being forced to wait for each other.

-Students learn at different rates. This needs to be considered by teachers when planning.

theory applied to sara porter
Theory Applied to Sara Porter
  • Teacher should try using group alerting, which may help to create interest in the material for Sara.
  • Calling on Sara when she is paying attention may encourage her to pay attention all of the time.
  • Withitness: teacher should have Sara in sight by placing her desk on an area that is visible from all areas in the classroom.
sara porter continued
Sara Porter Continued
  • High performance formats do not seem to work for Sara since she gets distracted easily, so the teacher should not use this strategy.
  • Encouraging accountability may work with Sara. Making sure she is reminded about what is expected my help her not to

become distracted so easily.

  • Teacher should ensure that lessons

keep the interest of the students.

what do you think
What do you think?

Which aspect of Kounin’s theory do you think is very important for a teacher to use in the classroom?

For example: Withitness, smoothness etc.

  • Jacob Kounin: http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Kounin,_Jacob
  • Professors who Profess: Making a Difference as Scholar activists by: Alfie Kohn: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4009/is_200304/ai_n9210167
  • http://www.heferbembenutty.com/files/JACOB_KOUNIN_Transistion.doc
  • Encyclopedia: Ripple Effect http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Ripple-effect