Evans, M. & Boucher, A. (2015) Optimizing the Power of Choice: Supporting Student Autonomy to Foster Motivation and Engagement in Learning


Curator LEARN


Curator LEARN

Article Summary

Category: Access

Element: Student Choice

Title:  Optimizing the Power of Choice: Supporting Student Autonomy to Foster Motivation and Engagement in Learning

Year:  2015

Author: Miriam Evans and Alyssa R. Boucher

Primary Author:  Miriam Evans

Criteria:  An extensive literature review on studies regarding student voice, practical recommendations that can be implemented by educators at all levels

Key Takeaway: This comprehensive literature review showcases the transformative power of student voice in K-12 schools, directly linking it to heightened student motivation, well-being, and engaged learning. The review provides educators with a goldmine of practical recommendations - ranging from promoting student choice and input, building trust, fostering collaboration, and encouraging reflection and community engagement. Enhance academic performance by empowering students in their learning journey.

Summation and Insights: 

This extensive literature review examined studies on student voice across K-12 schools.  Student voice, or creating meaningful opportunities for students to make choices about their learning experiences, is significantly tied to student motivation, well-being, and engaged learning.  When educators promote student voice, it can lead to improved academic performance.  The authors make several practical recommendations for educators looking for actionable ways to implement student voice in the classroom and promote engaged learning:

Providing students with choice: Offering students a variety of choices in their learning, such as allowing them to select the topics they want to explore, can promote a sense of autonomy and increase engagement. Teachers can also offer students different ways to demonstrate their learning, such as through presentations, written work, or creative projects.

Encouraging student input in decision-making: Teachers should involve students in the decision-making processes related to their education, such as setting classroom rules, choosing materials and resources, and determining the structure of lessons. This helps students feel more invested in their learning and fosters a sense of ownership.

Building a culture of trust: Creating a safe and supportive learning environment is crucial for encouraging student voice. Teachers should establish trust by being open to students' ideas and opinions, actively listening to their concerns, and demonstrating empathy and understanding.

Providing opportunities for collaboration: Teachers can facilitate collaboration among students by incorporating group work, peer feedback, and cooperative learning strategies. This promotes a sense of shared responsibility and helps students develop essential communication and problem-solving skills.

Encouraging reflection and self-assessment: Providing opportunities for students to reflect on their learning experiences and assess their own progress is an essential aspect of promoting student voice. Some ways to achieve this could be through journaling, self-evaluation forms, or one-on-one conferences with teachers.

Offering support and scaffolding: While it's important to offer choices, it's also important to provide scaffolding and support to help students make the most of those choices. This might include providing clear guidelines and expectations, offering feedback and guidance, and helping students to reflect on their choices and their learning.

Engaging with parents and the community: Involving parents and the community in the educational process can help support student voice initiatives. Teachers can communicate with parents about the importance of student voice and encourage them to be involved in their child's education.

By implementing these recommendations, educators, teachers, and administrators can help cultivate a learning environment that values and supports student voice. This not only benefits students in terms of motivation and engagement but can increase student academic performance and promote students’ overall well-being.  Additionally, fostering student voice can lead to a more positive classroom environment and stronger relationships between students and teachers.


22 June 2023