Jacob Kounin on Behavior In The Classroom

Who Is Jacob Kounin

  • Jacob Kounin is a classroom behaviorist theorist. He first started as a psychologist at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
  • He is best known for two studies he did in 1970 that was based on classroom management.
  • He began his studies in 1970 by writing Discipline and Group Management in Classrooms.
  • He wrote the book to discuss the effective and ineffective behaviors in the classroom.

The process began by observing teachers in an everyday classroom setting to see how they handled misbehaving.

He found that no matter how the teacher’s handled the given situation, the outcome was always the same. His conclusion was basically to prevent misbehavior before it even happens. This brought on his idea of having main points to follow to have successful classroom management.

Ripple Effect

The ripple effect came about while Kounin was teaching during Mental Hygiene class. A student of his was in the back reading a newspaper. The paper was completely open and covering the student’s face.

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Kounin asked the student to put the paper away and follow along. This brought on other students to follow the same directions. Therefore, if you “call out” one student in front of the class, it will cause other students to get refocused.


Withitness is not a teachable concept. This is basically a natural instinct in education. Being “with it” involves many concepts. Teachers have to constantly knowing what is going on in their classroom at all times. There are many ways to maintain “withitness” is being alert, circulating the classroom, asking numerous questions, redirecting students and knowing students on a personal level.

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Overlapping is basically a teacher’s way of multi-tasking. Teachers should constantly keep their students focused and engaged in the learning taking place. This key point ties back to having “Withitness”.


A teacher that has a manageable classroom must have momentum. In the classroom, there are unexpected changes that may occur that were not planned for. A teacher has to be able to maintain control of his or her classroom during these unplanned events and just “Roll with the punches”. Momentum occurs when students are involved and interested in the learning that is taking place. Momentum is also a learning tool for teachers. After completing a lesson and the students are just not getting it, the teacher can reevaluate how he or she wrote it.


Smoothness basically boils down to having daily routines and procedures. If you explain to students what you expect out of them at the beginning of the year, your classroom will run a lot smoother. Smoothness can occur in a classroom starting with morning routines, to transitioning lessons to even how students ask to get out of their seat by using signals with their hands. If a teacher has a structured classroom, it can also run smoother throughout the day.

Group Alerting

This is a way to keep all students’ attention and behavior on task. There are several strategies teachers can go about using group alerting. Some examples of group alerts may be completed with the help of students by using songs, the clap system and sayings, while others can be used solely by the teacher. For example, calling on students at random by asking a question only after scanning the room to make sure students are paying attention.

Advantages vs Disadvantages of Kounin’s Theory


  • Promotes learning in not only regular education students, but also with special education students
  • Effective ways to manage a classroom
  • Shows respect for all students
  • Helps prevent discipline problems


  • Does not address behavior problems
  • Teachers wanted effective strategies to stopping misbehavior quickly and they did not find it in Kounin’s work.

Work Cited

  1. Charles, C.M. Building Classroom Discipline. 10th. N.A.: Pearson, 2011. 66-68. Print. “Discipline Theorist.” n. page. Web. 3 Feb. 2013. http://www.elearnportal.com/courses/education/classroom-management-and-discipline/classroom-management-and-discipline-discipline-theorists.
  2. Evertson, C.M, and E.T. Emmer. Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers. 8th. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2009. 108-112. Print. Gulliver, L. “Jacob Kounin.” 01/2011. Web. 3 Feb. 2013. http://lynneg.edu.glogster.com/lynne-gullivers-jacob-kounin-glog/
Cite this page

Jacob Kounin on Behavior In The Classroom. (2016, Dec 21). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/jacob-kounin-on-behavior-in-the-classroom-essay

Jacob Kounin on Behavior In The Classroom

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