Thesis

The Impact of Student Choices on Engagement in Learning

ABSTRACT
 THE IMPACT OF STUDENT CHOICES ON ENGAGEMENT
 IN LEARNING
 by
 © Katie-ann K. Donahoo 2011
 Master of Arts in Education
 California State University, Chico
 Summer 2011
 Our future democracy depends on fostering youth with an education in which students learn to think critically, listen and learn from others’ viewpoints, and feel their voice is valued. Students should feel confident as they exercise their own choices in curriculum, contributing to their education through critical thinking and decision making.
 Strict school guidelines and prepackaged curriculum have created lost opportunities for students to think critically and many students seem to be disengaged in their learning. This study attempts to empower students by creating a learning environment in which students are provided with choices in the curriculum in ways that will impact their engagement in the content.
 The author employs action research using qualitative measures. The results in this study show that when students are given choices they feel empowered through their experiences of having autonomy in their learning. This study found students taking the
 initiative, listening and learning from their peers and thinking critically. These practices leave students feeling valued, cared for and confident.
 The goal of this study is that students will continue to feel empowered through their voices and choices in and out of the classroom and carry these traits into adulthood. This study proves that creating a democratic learning environment is not impossible in our current school system.

ABSTRACT THE IMPACT OF STUDENT CHOICES ON ENGAGEMENT IN LEARNING by © Katie-ann K. Donahoo 2011 Master of Arts in Education California State University, Chico Summer 2011 Our future democracy depends on fostering youth with an education in which students learn to think critically, listen and learn from others’ viewpoints, and feel their voice is valued. Students should feel confident as they exercise their own choices in curriculum, contributing to their education through critical thinking and decision making. Strict school guidelines and prepackaged curriculum have created lost opportunities for students to think critically and many students seem to be disengaged in their learning. This study attempts to empower students by creating a learning environment in which students are provided with choices in the curriculum in ways that will impact their engagement in the content. The author employs action research using qualitative measures. The results in this study show that when students are given choices they feel empowered through their experiences of having autonomy in their learning. This study found students taking the initiative, listening and learning from their peers and thinking critically. These practices leave students feeling valued, cared for and confident. The goal of this study is that students will continue to feel empowered through their voices and choices in and out of the classroom and carry these traits into adulthood. This study proves that creating a democratic learning environment is not impossible in our current school system.

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