Evidence-Based Practices in Classroom Management: Considerations for Research to Practice

Article excerpt


Classroom management is a critical skill area. Teachers should be trained and supported in implementing practices that are likely to be successful; that is, practices that are backed by evidence. The purpose of this paper is to describe the outcomes of a systematic literature search conducted to identify evidence-based classroom management practices. Although the need for additional research exists, 20 practices, in general, were identified as having sufficient evidence to be considered for classroom adoption. Considerations for incorporating these practices are suggested, and a self-assessment tool is proposed as means of evaluating and enhancing use of these practices. Suggestions for future research are also presented.


Classroom management is an important element of pre-service teacher training and in-service teacher behavior (Emmer & Stough, 2001) and is comprised of three central components: maximized allocation of time for instruction, arrangement of instructional activities to maximize academic engagement and achievement, and proactive behavior management practices (Sugai & Horner, 2002). Early research on classroom management employed either descriptive or correlational methods and highlighted practices that were used by "effective teachers" (e.g., Kounin & Obradovik, 1967; Kounin, Friesen, & Norton, 1966). This research formed the foundation for chapters and textbooks on classroom management (Emmer & Stough, 2001). Thus, some practices currently disseminated to pre- and in-service teachers are based on preliminary findings of early research and may not have an established evidence base.

Educators who follow current trends in educational policy, law, and research are guided to identify and implement scientifically-validated or evidence-based practices, a standard that has gained popularity in the past decade. For example, the words "evidence-based" were cited in 34 articles in PsycINFO (electronic data base) from 1986-1995, and were cited in 3,772 articles from 1996-2005. Consequently, researchers and practitioners must identify which classroom management practices are empirically validated. The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on what we know about classroom management research and guidelines for translating this research into practical classroom practice. We present (a) the methodology and results of the literature search conducted to identify evidence-based classroom management practices, (b) guidelines for translating research into practice, (c) a self-assessment tool, and (d) implications for future research.

Identification of Evidence-based Practices

Literature Search Methodology

We searched the empirical literature to identify evidence-based classroom management practices. To identify potential topics, ten recent classroom management texts (2) were reviewed, and a list of recommended practices was developed. Practices were grouped into five categories: (a) physical arrangement of classroom, (b) structure of classroom environment, (c) instructional management, (d) procedures designed to increase appropriate behavior, and (e) procedures designed to decrease inappropriate behavior. The empirical literature pertaining to each topic was searched to identify practices that met our criteria for "evidence-based."

Although an agreed upon heuristic for defining evidence-based practices is difficult to establish, commonalities exist among the approaches adopted by various organizations (e.g., CEC, AFT, IES; Kerr & Nelson, 2006). Specifically, most organizations agree that evidence-based practices meet the following criteria: "(a) the use of a sound experimental or evaluation design and appropriate analytical procedures, (b) empirical validation of effects, (c) clear implementation procedures, (d) replication of outcomes across implementation sites, and (e) evidence of sustainability" (Kerr & Nelson, p. …


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