Empowering Student Driven Resistance: Using Student-Directed Learning to Create Self-Advocacy in the Classroom
Schlafly, Ashley L.
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Background: Student-directed learning is a teaching style that focuses on providing students with autonomy where the teacher and students share power so that both become equal partners in the learning process. Student-directed learning can promote high levels of academic achievement among students from vulnerable populations within urban and other types of school settings. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the process of designing a classroom that promoted student-directed learning. This study posed the following questions: RQ1: What social factors regarding student voice exist to demonstrate the need for a pedagogical shift in the classroom, including my own? RQ2: How was my student-directed classroom run and what tools were needed to change to such an instructional framework? RQ3: What changes occurred in my classroom in terms of agency, engagement and achievement following the implementation of student-directed learning? Methods: This study used a case study of the researcher's classroom to explore the instructional implementation of a student-directed learning framework as well as an exploration of themes identified throughout to explore agency, engagement and achievement in the classroom. Results: Transitioning to student-directed learning proved to be successful at increasing the level of agency, engagement and achievement among students. Conclusion: Results suggest that student-directed learning is an instructional style that may prove to be successful with vulnerable populations. Results further suggest that there are potential barriers to large scale changes to such instruction, though, including a test-prep culture, state of public education and expectations of administration. Still, despite these barriers, further exploration into student-directed learning across all curriculums and grade levels is needed due to the potential benefit students from vulnerable populations may experience as a result of receiving instruction in this manner.