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Meaningful Student Involvement through Learning Design

Creating powerful, practical and effective learning opportunities should the goal of every educator committed to increasing student power. When students have voice, authority, and take action to improve in learning, they find meaning in what they’re doing. Working to build student commitment to community, democracy and education requires Meaningful Student Involvement in learning.

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Learning design should happens before education happens in schools. While it cannot and should not capture every single part of the educative process, learning design should consider several important elements. Each of these can affect Meaningful Student Involvement, and can be affected by Meaningful Student Involvement.

Elements of Learning Design

Ensuring that Meaningful Student Involvement in Learning happens requires engaging students as learning designers.
Ensuring that Meaningful Student Involvement in Learning happens requires engaging students as learning designers.

Designing learning includes deciding what you’re going to teach, how you’re going to teach it, who is going to teach, and what the outcomes are going to be. Educators call this learning design.

Meaningful student involvement in learning design can center on infusing the Cycle of Student Engagement into whatever activity you’re facilitating. You can learn about the Cycle here »

When you’re considering meaningfully involving students in designing learning, you might start with authorizing them to take action by introducing the learning to them. To do this, you can share with students why they are learning a specific topic. Teach them about engagement styles and teaching habits, and ask them what the best possible ways there are to learn specific materials. Show them primary materials, tools, timelines, deadlines, related topics, and specific deliverables from the learning.

Teach students that the way learning is designed affects all learners both positively and otherwise. Encourage them to ask critical questions and share their authentic responses. Ultimately, show them how their perspectives on learning an issue are informed by the ways that issue is taught both within and outside of the classroom, and that all learning extends far beyond the classroom walls. This is Meaningful Student Involvement in learning design.

Examples from SoundOut

For almost 20 years, our SoundOut program has been working with K-12 educators across the US to promote Meaningful Student Involvement in learning design. Here are some examples we’ve collected from our work and research in the field:

Help Is Available!

If you’d like to learn more, including technical assistance or professional development for Meaningful Student Involvement through learning design, contact me today!

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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.