About CI

Complex Instruction (CI) is an instructional strategy and pedagogical philosophy that supports all learners in engaging in challenging content. It attends to status, or ways in which people sort each other based on perceptions of competence. For example, students will often make assumptions about who is smart on math based on individual attributes that have nothing to do with mathematical competence. Students who quickly raise their hands, are good readers, have cool clothes, talk a lot, or talk with the “right” accent may be seen as better at math than other students.

Teachers using CI support all students in finding their own mathematical competence, in supporting the learning of other students, and in finding areas to develop their own skills. As students begin to notice the variety of skills involved in mathematics, they expand their own mathematical skills while also enhancing the learning of all students in the room.

CI was originally developed by Elizabeth Cohen and Rachel Lotan.