What is Academic Teaming?

Academic teaming is a daily instructional process where students collaborate, peer coach, and peer teach while engaged in rigorous, standards-based tasks. It goes far beyond the familiar grouping strategies of the past and is backed by neuroscience and other scientific research. Educators in schools nationwide implement academic teaming, empowering their students to take ownership of their own learning and behavior. Academic teaming has the power to improve academic achievement and social emotional learning simultaneously, while also closing gaps between students of differing abilities, preparing students for college and the workplace, and promoting equity and access.

Why Academic Teaming?

Return the Joy and Energy to the Classroom

Learning becomes a joint responsibility between students and educators, creating a more effective and enjoyable learning environment.

Prepare Students for College and the 21st Century Workplace

In their teams, students develop leadership, persistence, grit, oral communication skills, critical thinking, and creativity.

Use a Brain-Friendly Teaching and Learning Process

Academic teaming deepens learning and engages and challenges students in ways they would not experience through traditional instruction.

Narrow Achievement Gaps

Academic teaming allows students and teachers to track learning progress and close daily gaps quickly.

Boost Student Ownership of Their Own Learning and Behavior

In teams, students are empowered to take more responsibility for their academics and self-regulate their behavior.

Promote Equity and Access

English language learners, students with special needs, and students from low socio-economic status have blossomed in academic teams.

Combine Social and Emotional Learning with Cognitive Rigor

Teaming creates a classroom environment where students naturally develop SEL skills, such as conflict resolution, while engaged in academic content.

Academic Teaming Increases Equity

In 2017-18, more than half of the schools in Des Moines qualified for Title I School Improvement funds. Students of color, students with language barriers, and students with special needs were lagging behind. Educators in Des Moines Public Schools knew they had to change something if the district hoped to narrow achievement gaps and ensure all students had access to an excellent education. One of their major focuses became academic teaming, an effort which resulted in immense academic, behavioral, and social and emotional growth.


in Math

Students engaged in academic teaming at Howe Elementary in Des Moines had a 35 percent improvement in mathematics over the gain otherwise expected in matched control students.


Reduction in the Achievement Gap

Black students engaged in academic teaming through Schools for Rigor in Des Moines reduced the black–white achievement gap by 7 percent in reading and 6 percent in mathematics.

Equivalent of 61 Extra Days of Learning in Reading

All students in the Des Moines district would require an additional 61 days of learning in reading instruction to make the same learning gains that high school Schools for Rigor students did with academic teaming.

As Featured In

Author Carol Ann Tomlinson included the story of 2nd graders from the formerly 5th lowest-performing traditional public school in Florida now engaging in rigorous team learning. Tomlinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, touts LSI’s Academic Teaming in learner-centered classrooms.

Our Vision for Teaming

Instruction must help students master rigorous academic standards while at the same time equipping them with social and emotional skills. Employers and colleges expect high school graduates to come ready to problem solve, think critically, and contribute to a team while holding themselves accountable for their own performance. All students deserve an excellent education that helps them realize this vision of success.  LSI’s Applied Research Center developed academic teaming as an empowering new model of instruction. LSI’s moral imperative is to help students build the skills they’ll need to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty and/or to complete college and thrive in the new economy.


Share your academic teaming experiences, photos, and videos on social media with the hashtag #academicteaming to be featured here.