A simple way to increase students’ investment in their learning is to give them some degree of autonomy regarding what they learn or how they learn it (1). There are multiple ways for teachers to provide choice to students in their classrooms. For example:
- Let Students Choose What Books to Read or What Topics to Write About. Try to provide a range of options so that each student can find an option that really appeals to them. For example, provide books representing diverse ranges of topics and authors of different cultural backgrounds. If you are in doubt about students’ interests, ask.
- Even Small or Tangential Choices Can Increase Motivation. Research has shown that students complete more math problems in a math learning game if they get to pick the colors of their avatar (4). For example, this video describes the experiences of a Chicago Public School teacher who tracked what happened when he let his students choose which problems to do for homework (spoiler alert: they completed more of them).
For in-depth practice recommendations, please refer to the toolkit Create Opportunities for Student Choice, or check out the next pages in this chapter.
- Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 97–110.