Research has shown many benefits for students having greater control of their own learning, including:
- increased levels of student engagement
- improved learning outcomes
- enhanced student wellbeing
By regularly facilitating this process, we’re encouraging and supporting our students to develop student voice, agency and leadership qualities.
Below are 5 key questions for supporting students in finding their voice and taking control of their learning.
1. What is one thing you would like to practice again?
In my own teaching, I always emphasise the importance of practicing newly learnt skills.
This helps to improve understanding and mastery. It also reiterates the importance and value of trying your best and not giving up, even when the task might be challenging.
This question can encourage content mastery. Some examples include learning times tables, as well as more complex learning tasks, such as structuring an essay.
2. What is 1 question you still have?
Posing this question to students helps to cement the notion that learning is an ongoing and intricate process.
It prompts students to reflect on what they’ve already learnt as well as envisioning the possibilities of what can still be achieved.
To extend students even further, it’s helpful to encourage them to identify the next steps for developing their knowledge. For instance, you might suggest a useful resource or support them in setting some tangible learning goals.
3. Imagine your friend was away from class today and asked you to explain the lesson. What would you tell them?
Having students recap what they’ve been taught encourages them to take ownership of their learning.
From my experience, one of the best ways for students to understand and retain information is to put it into their own words.
This exercise makes students feel empowered and in control of their learning. It also enhances their autonomy, self confidence and learning outcomes.
As an added benefit, it gives you, the teacher, an excellent insight into their learning.
4. What mistakes did you make today and what can you learn from them?
“Mistakes grow your brain” - Jo Boaler, Mathematics academic and education author.
It's never easy to acknowledge one's mistakes. Yet, it's one of the best ways for students to improve their understanding by taking control of their learning.
It's best to recognise mistakes as they occur. Doing so increases the likelihood of developing the skills for dealing with them as they arise across different learning scenarios.
As teachers, it’s imperative that we discuss the ways in which we make mistakes, and how we grow as a result. This approach indicates to our students that making mistakes is a natural part of learning, and can improve learning outcomes.
5. Explain what you do when you do not understand a skill or concept you are learning
I encourage my students to identify tools and strategies to support them when they are struggling with a skill or a concept that they are learning. These may include:
- Asking a peer for help
- Breaking down a task into manageable chunks
- Utilising additional videos, tutorials and other resources
Having these ready-to-go strategies empowers students to take control of their own learning, improve their understanding and build confidence amongst learners.
As teachers, we are perfectly placed to ask questions that will support students in having greater autonomy over their learning.
Try these questions with your students and let us know how they respond. You can find all of these questions and more in the template questions in your Ziplet account.
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