10 Ways How Students Can Be Given More Control of their Education

“Control” is the elusive thing that many of us yearn for all of our lives. It is basically a myth that we hope will one day come true, like the fountain of youth or the holy grail. Control, in reality, is a false paradigm that teachers use to “assist students.” Regrettably, the thing we’re trying to control often rebels or loses sight of the importance of what we’re trying to do.

Let’s start by taking an example. Starr Sackstein, in an article published in Education Week, says that “in my early career, I was convinced that I needed to be in charge in order for students to learn. I needed to have complete control over their actions, their learning, and my command of the material I was teaching them.” Furthermore, she adds “paradoxically, I have little to no control over most of it, with the exception of my understanding of what I’m trying to teach. The better a teacher I got, the less I felt compelled to make students do things my way.”

Fear is one of the great factors in how teachers are regarded to be in charge. They want those in their class to learn. Therefore they often use threats to ensure that the actions of a few don’t harm the overall balance of the class or that the perception of unequal treatment isn’t created. In Sackstein’s case, there were quite a lot of threats. Even to get the desired results from her students, she used a lot of threats around grades. She penalised individuals who did not follow instructions, deducting points for late or incomplete assignments. Those who worked hard and took their studies seriously received bonus points. Well, in this scenario, she suggests it is better for students to go for coursework help in the UK from their professors or instructors if they feel out not completing assignments on time than getting penalised.

To see students differently and understand their different motives, belief systems, and aims is the first step in getting them to “buy-in”, and they are to be given more control of their education. Here are some suggestions to get them started:

  • Discussions led by the students

There is no perfect approach to persuade a learner to get into their learning other than to give them the responsibility of teaching it. Is this a risky move? Yes. But as per the study shown in the journal Memory & Cognition, ‘it was recognised that normally speaking with the learners about teaching other students influences their mindset because they use more effective learning strategies than their peers who only anticipated a test.’

Besides, High Tech High also performed an “experiment” that focused on checking if peers were leading the discussion and whether it had made the lesson more impressive to students. The researchers concluded that other students developed confidence and got familiar with addressing, elaborating on, and questioning others’ opinions as a result of the student-led conversations.  

  • Self examination 

Self-assessment is introduced to students early on in their semesters in order to establish a baseline from which they can build in the future. Students can analyse their own strengths and weaknesses using self-assessment.

  • Flipped classrooms 

The flipped classroom changes instruction to a beginner model wherein class time is used to dig deeper into topics and start creating significant learning chances, while educational technologies like videos online are used to “produce information” beyond the lecture hall. Students have more influence over their learning in a flipped classroom. They may pause, write comments, and learn at their own pace by watching lectures online at home.

  • Allowing for a flexible schedule 

Letting students establish their own timeline then revising it if they discover it is or isn’t working–can be a great method to increase student responsibility for learning. Students with online schooling, for example, have more control over their schedules since they may choose when they wish to complete each work.

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Traditional teachers might embrace this concept by enabling students to choose the sequence in which they complete their duties during class. Giving them this power gives them control over their time, making them less inclined to waste it.  

  • Let them measure their progress

One of the British Professors, Dylan William, opined that the feedback given to students by them is restricted. It is an important and most effective method in the long run for the improvement of the students so that they can give feedback to themselves. To do so, teachers can empower students by giving them simple rubrics of “I can” and “I can’t” that will help them in finding out the meaningful monitoring of their progress as a part of an activity or project. This ultimately will improve their performance.

Because the rubric specifies the criteria for a successful output, teacher comments should be impartial and nonjudgmental during this process. Teaching students to self-evaluate fosters their metacognitive knowledge and independence, both of which are valuable life skills.

  • Reflection engagement 

Teachers must give time to their students in the class to reflect on their learning on a regular basis. Learning doesn’t only happen when a student gets an A or doesn’t make the final cut for the track team; teachers shall tell students to demonstrate the importance of reflection. ‘We learn when we consider why we were or weren’t successful and how we might improve in the future to get a different result.’

Here are a few questions for self-reflection: 

  • Which component of your work do you believe was the most successful? Why? What do you mean by that?
  • Based on the comments you got, what specific action(s) would you take to enhance your performance?
  • What did you learn about the material, topic, method, and/or yourself while working on this task?
  • What recommendations would you give to students next year to help them perform better on this task?
  • Progressive classroom policies

It is crucial to allow students to participate in the creation of classroom policies. Giving students a voice in a classroom enhances their civic ideals, increases their academic performance, and improves their engagement and collaboration. It also makes students accountable for their activities in class and establishes an environment of taking responsibility for the consequences if they break a rule.

Putting students in charge may appear risky at first, but the benefit much outweighs the risk in the long term. 

  • Utilise activity based learnings 

Allow learners to create their own activity-based learning concepts while keeping track of their progress. A rubric in place before beginning a project, on the other hand, places the benefits on them to achieve the expectations. It can develop grading criteria to express their creativity, take responsibility for what they’ve learned, and an effective approach to what should be presented, irrespective of the nature of the project, essay, or speech they’re working on.

  • Continuous feedback sessions

Nobody is perfect, but what makes a perfect person is trying harder than the last time, and this can happen through regular feedback sessions. Continuously evaluating the students makes sure that they are getting the opportunity to improve themselves. This makes learners feel heard and involved in their education.

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