The face of the classroom must evolve as the demands of our world are complex and ever changing. Students must learn how to be productive citizens in society, and this begins in the classroom. Teachers should create opportunities and space for students to develop their own learning. Student ownership of learning is one of the most effective teaching strategies teachers may utilize. When students are explicitly involved in the learning process, they retain information and remember the experience. These opportunities can be created in the classroom with purposeful teaching strategies.

What are the Benefits of Fostering Student Ownership?

The benefits of student ownership in the classroom are endless. Students at any age enjoy independence and autonomy in the classroom. Students appreciate choice and engage at a higher level when they feel they are being heard. Teachers have taken on different roles as the needs of students have changed and advanced with technology. They serve as facilitators of learning in many instances, and provide the structure needed for higher level thinking skills. Teachers utilize data and technology to personalize instruction in these occurrences. Students have control of the how, why, and when learning takes place, and they become independent thinkers. This also creates a community in the classroom.

Teachers benefit greatly with student ownership because of the excitement and engagement that takes place in the classroom. This increases positive relationships, more joy in the classroom, and higher skill retention. Consequently, test scores are higher which is important in education. Teachers’ performance is judged on how well students know content, and self-directed learning has a myriad of advantages.

Higher engagement is a direct result of students’ choice, and their voices being heard. Our young people need to be heard now more than ever as they face challenges that previous generations have not faced. Students need input on how and what they learn. This process increases communication and fosters relationships in the classroom for any age. They use mistakes as a chance to learn and understand on a deeper level.

Increased motivation is another benefit of student ownership of learning. Students find joy in the process and develop interests in learning how to ask the right questions. They find themselves asking hard questions and trying new things. They become collaborators and learn to work independently and as part of a team.

Students become self-directed learners, and this allows them the chance to experience freedom and how to make good choices. They learn to critically think and problem-solve and have a better outcome in the classroom. This creates a ripple effect in students’ education as they learn how to think on their own. When students get jobs, they must learn how to figure out new things independently often. This type of learning in the classroom fosters empowerment to enjoy learning new skills and will positively influence their results.

What are the Possible Effects of Lacking Ownership of Learning?

Classrooms with lecture and low student input typically have negative outcomes on students, teachers, skill retention, and test scores. As student ownership increases engagement, the lack of ownership decreases engagement, attendance, and quite often increases behavior issues. Many classrooms that are set up this way have a lack of participation, low skill retention, and lack of independence.

Schools, colleges, and the work force are all set up on task implementation and how well we perform at what we are trying to accomplish. Research supports higher levels of student ownership to higher performance rates. Teachers’ classrooms that are not set up this way tend to have to work harder, and still do not get the desired results they are reaching for.

Classroom Tools to Encourage Student Ownership

Teaching Opportunities

Provide opportunities for students to teach others what they have learned. According to The Learning Pyramid (2021), students remember 90% of what they teacher others. These opportunities can be created by setting up teams and allowing them to research skills and topics. The students conduct the research, and they will push harder to learn facts if they know they are going to be held accountable to teach others. This process allows students flexibility and freedom that they would not otherwise experience in a traditional lecture. The students teach each other, and they will highly engage in this type of activity for their peers.

Student Input

Allow students’ input on creating assessments. If students are given the chance to create questions for assessments, or create the entire assessment, they will most likely create harder questions than the teacher. Not only do they love this idea, but they will also review and retain skills during the development process. They are highly involved in this activity which directly impacts their abilities to remember the information on the tests.

Student-Led Projects

Create assignments where students determine what type of project they will complete. Teachers serve, guide, and direct students on the subject matter, but they are given independence on how, when, and what they complete.

Student-Led Lectures

Traditional lectures in classrooms are not as effective as they once were. Attention spans and many other factors play a role in why teachers must change the way they facilitate learning. Allowing students the privilege of conducting lectures in the classroom is an effective way to teach content, and increase student ownership. This can be done in a rotation so all students that want to participate may get the chance.