Role of Student in the Classroom: Meaningful, Engaged Learning

October 5, 2009

In the article Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform, Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski and Rasmussen list engaged learners as the most successful type of student role.  But the question raised is how do you get students to become engaged learners?  The authors created a list of indicators that can act as a compass for reforming the role of students in education:

1.  Vision  — Students self-regulate and are able to define their own learning goals and achievement.

2.  Tasks  — In order to have engaged learners tasks must be challenging, authentic, and multidisciplinary; fostering of peer relationships can be created when tasks are collaborative.

3.  Assessment —  Using performance-based assessment because it involves the student in generating their own  performance criteria where they will play a key role in the design, evaluation, and reporting of their assessment.

4.  Instructional Model and Strategies —  Students teach other students interactively; this allows for co-construction of ideas and promotes engaged learning

5.  Learning Context — For students to be engaged learners, the classroom has to be perceived as knowledge building.

6.  Grouping — When students are allowed to collaborate they bring background knowledge and perspectives to their tasks. ( The authors pointed out that this was one of the best ways to ensure increased learning opportunities.)

7.  Indicator — The role of the student is to be that of an explorer.  When the student is able to interact with teacher and peers successfully, the student discovers concepts and applies skills that reflect their discovery.

While the list is useful in examining the ever changing role of the student in the classroom, it seems created somewhat in a vacuum — it lacks the reality of the classroom.  Meaning that it doesn’t account for students in large classes or if there are behavioral problems, etc.

Jones, B., Valdez, G., Nowakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.


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