Measuring Student Engagement with the ABQ

The ABQ (Answering • Building Upon an Idea • Questioning) is one of the most powerful and simplest ways to better understand student engagement and analyze engagement patterns in a classroom.

Here's how it works:

Ask a colleague or administrator (your "data collector") to come in and record student voice data during a group-based discussion period (at least 20 minutes, so you get enough data to draw some conclusions). Before the class begins, simply sketch out the physical classroom layout on a blank piece of paper, writing student’s names inside each ‘desk’ or box in advance, if you have assigned seating.

The data collector listens to and notates everything students say during the period, categorizing them in the following way:

A (Answers given to direct questions from teacher or other students)

B (Building upon another’s idea or question with comments)

Q (Questions they ask) PS - It’s helpful also to note what kinds of questions students are asking if there is time (using Bloom’s revised Taxonomy or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, for example).


The data alone will speak volumes on where to focus attention and will lead to further questions that you can reflect on alone or with a PLC/PLN. There is little need for the observer to do much more than the share the data with you after class. Some questions to guide your reflection might include:

What does participation look and sound like?

Who is doing most of the talking and questioning? Why?

How can you inspire more students/different students to question/participate?

How might you share this data with students?