The Office of Faculty Development

Sorting and Classification

Sorting and classification activities are great for helping students practice content-based skills, self-evaluate their own understanding, and engage in discourse about a particular topic.  For instructors, they provide opportunities to assess developing student understanding, to facilitate student-student and instructor-student discourse, and for students to actively engage in the learning process.

One manner in which students construct knowledge is to compare and contrast prior knowledge and new experiences or observations and develop schema to explain and understand their experiences.  Explicitly engaging students in comparison activities is a high impact teaching strategy that is supported by research (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollack 2001).

Use sorting and classification activities can be a dynamic strategy for engaging students in the act of identifying similarities and differences.  Card sorts or item sorts can be structured as open or closed sorts.  In open sorts, students are not given specific criteria to consider when sorting.  During a closed sort, students are asked to use specific criteria to sort or classify objects.

Using concrete or interactive items to sort can also be beneficial to diverse learners allowing them to interact with content through multiple modalities.  Facilitating sorting activities in groups or for the purpose of supporting student discourse will provide students with even more means through which they may explore content.

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Active Learning Calculus(opens in new window) (CU Boulder, Includes Matching/Sorting Activities)

Assessment Sort(opens in new window) (Pablo Ochoa Bailey, from Math Pedagogy Course)

Create Sorting Activities with Google Drawings or Slides(opens in new window) (EdTech Awesomeness)

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement(opens in new window) (Dean, Ross Hubbell, Stone)