Authors of the book Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein convincingly assert that most of us are “choice architects.” The ways in which we lay out choices for others can have a profound impact on what they select. If lunch is displayed a certain way in school cafeterias, students are more likely to select healthy or non-healthy options, even if all the same options are present in both designs.

When most people buy a new cell phone, they usually leave it on the default options for ring tone, notification settings, etc.  Countries who have organ donor as the default option have much higher rates of donors than those who have opt-in organ donation.

So, take a moment to think about your default options for thinking in the classroom. Is the default option for students to be passive recipients of information or do they have to actively process information throughout their learning?

Here is a good place to start reflecting:

Classroom Scenario

Passive Learning

Active Processing

When a student asks if his/her answer is correct, your response is usually: “Yes” or “No” “Do you think it’s correct? Why or why not?”
When you present something slightly new, your method is usually to: Explain it carefully in the front of the room. Post a problem/question that is slightly out of reach from material they’ve mastered and ask them to predict what to do/how to solve it.
To extend their learning you usually: Have them practice many similar problems or answer lots of questions about the content. Change things up a bit and ask them to engage in a conversation that begins, “What if this part was a bit different…How would we approach this now?”