Why students should have more agency in their learning
- Mastering vocabulary is crucial to student success, but classic methods such as asking them to memorize lists, can feel rote and outdated.
- Teacher Kaitlyn Watson allows students to pick their own vocabulary lists, she told edutopia. Watson assigns reading from Newsela, at Lexile levels that challenge them just enough, and has children create words lists on vocabulary that they don’t know.
- Students then use words throughout the week, and are given opportunities to teach words to peers to help them better master a word through context.
Giving students ownership over their learning can instill pride in themselves and a deeper mastery of the information. While not every student is an autonomous learner — someone who can drive their learning alone — curriculum administrators may want to consider giving all pupils some control over how they master material.
Allowing students to work together on learning goals, tying these goals to personal interests and then giving them some control of the process can instill a motivation to learn in students, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), which has published teacher modules on how to motivate K-12 students in the classroom. Then, as teachers chart students' progress, children can view their success, which helps them “…begin to acquire a sense of ownership and responsibility for the role they play in these successes,” noted the APA.
Curriculum administrators can encourage teachers to add these tools, such as progress charts, to their classes. Even in small doses, features that help instill more ownership of what a student has learned can help them grow into more self-directed and confident learners.