The student voice

Updated: Sep 7

The Power of Student Voice; Empowering all Learners

When I think about student voice and what it means to me as an educator, I reflect on the ways in which my understanding of the concept has evolved over time and how in turn, it has shaped my practice as a teacher, and as an educational technology consultant. If I had been asked early in my career, “What is Student Voice?”, my answer would likely have focused around students participating during class discussions. Though I was on the right track, recognizing the importance of giving students the opportunity to speak out, to share their ideas and ask questions, I have come to realize that the answer to the question, “What is Student Voice?”, is far more complex and multifaceted. When we talk about student voice we are not only talking about hearing from each of our students in class, though that is a very important component, we are also referring to the ways students can express themselves and communicate or demonstrate their learning in multimodal ways, making choices that are informed by self-observation, reflection, and feedback from teachers, as well as peers. Through this deeper understanding, I began to appreciate the importance of student voice and the power that it has with regards to shaping learners and my learning environment.

For instance, I became more conscious of how student voice contributes to a growing sense of self-efficacy amongst students. According to Hattie, Fisher, and Frey “Learners’ self-efficacy contributes to their willingness to engage in academic risk taking…[and] is an important factor in self-regulation.” (Hattie, 2018, pp. 52-53) When students recognize they have a voice that matters and that their voice is actually taken into consideration, they feel empowered. We have begun to build their capacity for confidence in taking on a variety of learning challenges. Our students start to see themselves as having the skills needed to try to accomplish these learning tasks. I found that as I prioritized student voice in my lessons and learning activities, not only were students taking greater ownership of their learning, but they were becoming more observant and reflective of themselves as learners and how they were progressing on their learning journey.

I also found that by emphasizing the importance and value of student voice, together my stude