Friday, April 20, 2018

Student Agency

I’ve recently been involved in a complex and challenging partnership. Lipscomb University’s College of Professional Studies and the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation is in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education on a project supporting teams of educators from all over the state of Tennessee with the implementation of competency-based education (CBE) components. These teams are doing some of the hardest work I’ve ever seen from K-12 educators. They are implementing CBE-aligned components into a standards-based education system. That’s definitely like fitting a square peg into a round hole.  

Some of the components focused on include mastery-based grading, developing competencies, project-based learning, inquiry learning, and student agency. All of this is part of a bigger effort within the state of Tennessee to develop models of personalized learning. 

Student agency is something I have been passionate about for some time. Simply put, student agency is the capacity and propensity for students to take purposeful initiative. It is evidenced by students responding actively to circumstances, seeking meaning, and acting with purpose to achieve the conditions they desire in their own and others’ lives.

Why am I so passionate about student agency? The development of student agency empowers students to influence their own path to mastery (something really important in a CBE system), enhances their cognitive ability to work proactively, increases motivation, and allows students to hone active and self-directed learning skills. Simply put, student agency builds self-efficacy. 

What we can do in schools to encourage the development of student agency include providing meaningful and relevant learning activities, considering students’ interests, giving space for self-initiated learning while providing developmentally appropriate guidance, and raising the awareness of students toward mastery of learning benchmarks.  

How do you see student agency being encouraged and developed in your school?

More information about Competency-Based Education

One example of Student Agency