Featured Article · Guest Post

Student Agency Over Learning #ISTE17LEARNING

Two questions were raised at the International Society for Technology in Education conference.

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Image courtesy of Will Richardson@willrich45

Having received my education at Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington I uphold the constructivist learning theory.  Contrary to instruction where students passively acquire knowledge from lectures, constructivism asserts that learning is an active process based on personal experiences and interpretations of the environment.

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Conceptual Framework of Education Courtesy of Heritage University

The learner isn’t a blank slate but a dynamic individual who brings past experiences from culture and prior knowledge. Each person has a different process of construction of knowledge. American sociologist and professor Jack Mezirow states, “A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience.” Learning occurs only as learners are actively involved in the construction of their own knowledge. 

Students require the process of critical reflection to improve the quality of their future actions. A student’s agency over their learning is increased when they utilize the Bloomz student portfolio tool. As students choose and upload work samples to reflect on, they gain self-esteem and self-assessment skills. Self-reflection is important because it helps students develop as independent learners capable of monitoring and regulating their own learning. Some skills students develop while creating a digital portfolio are:

  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • Realistic goal setting
  • Pinpointing where to focus attention in learning
  • Revision skills
  • Progress tracking

Reflecting on work enhances its meaning by encouraging deeper insight and complex thought. Teachers also benefit from student feedback on their own learning because assessment informs instruction. Research reminds us of the value of students as partners in their own assessment. Increased engagement across the content areas and motivation to learn are two benefits in asking students to critically analyze their own learning with Bloomz student portfolios.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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