Transforming Education – Cultivating Student Agency

It is our goal as educators to ensure our students leave our classrooms with the skills necessary for success, independence, and lifelong learning. In order to achieve this goal, we should design our instructional techniques, curriculum, and assessments that provides students with freedom, choice, and ownership over their learning. This is called student agency.

By student agency, we mean the student has a voice, and often a choice, in their own learning process.

In the context of student agency, the student makes, creates, shares and collaborates in ways that are meaningful to them. It is about recognising learners as active participants in their own learning, empowering them to design their own experiences and realize their own learning outcomes according to their developmental level.

We want students to be able to know their own strengths, identify their own learning gaps and know what their next steps should be and how to reach them.

A conducive classroom environment:

The main goal for teachers should be to foster a culture of inquiry, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration in the classroom. Teachers should practice active learning strategies that helps children to construct their own learning on their own prior knowledge. This enables children to take part in their learning process rather than passively listening to facts from a teacher.

Identifying their passion:

In order to create learning experiences that revolve around students’ passions, we can ask them to identify their passions. While the teacher acts as the facilitator for the knowledge the student wants, the learner will develop enthusiasm about the topic. Give them opportunities to pick their own projects and help them set goals. Helping them in their passion projects will be a good way to activate student agency.

Giving them Choices:

Giving students a choice in how they want to approach a problem or project can help increase their motivation, willingness, and investment of time. By taking this approach, students will know that they can make mistakes along the way and still have the support of their teacher. During this process, they are continuously learning through their choices that will lead them in specific paths, some paths will be successful while some of them will not be. This helps learners in development of their self-awareness and problem-solving skills.

Asking Open-Ended Questions:

Introduce students to activities or projects with open-ended questions. This will open up opportunities for new discoveries, knowledge sharing, and experimentation. Ask them to give solutions for some real-world problems using the tools and skills they have at their disposal.

Giving Continuous Feedback:

It is also crucial for teachers to give students ongoing feedback and support. Giving feedback helps them understand where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there. This is the most effective way to encourage complete participation from students whether they are working alone or in a group.

Encouraging And appreciating:

Learning is a nonlinear process in which no two students learn the same way or within the same time frame or use the same learning style. Understand this and show appreciation for any new knowledge or skills a student has acquired and for the effort they have put in and encourage them to learn from their failures.

It is possible to foster a culture of agency by adopting meaningful habits. You can think of these habits as tiny ways to remind students that they matter, that their voices matter, and that they are an integral part of the learning process. Just by being mindful of the small opportunities to reinforce self-efficacy throughout the day, we model the skills and language students need to take control of their lives.