This toolkit was created in partnership with PERTS to support educators who are taking action in their classrooms.
Small choices, big impact.
Student choice can take on many forms in the classroom! While not all educators will be able to implement choice of instructional materials, there are many ways to allow students choice in their learning process. This practice will help you discover simple ways you can increase student engagement by offering choice in the classroom.
Giving students choice can improve engagement.
Many students never get the opportunity to connect their schoolwork to deep, powerful motives. They find themselves unmotivated because they can’t answer questions like “why am I learning this?” Choice allows students to make decisions that increase how meaningful work is to them. Teachers can try a variety of strategies to help students connect their schoolwork to their deep desires for autonomy, competence, and relationships.
Even small or tangential choices can increase motivation. For example, research has shown that students complete more math problems in a math learning game if they get to pick the colors of their avatar (Lepper, M. R., & Cordova, D. I., 1992). Allowing students to choose the type of assignment can increase their sense of autonomy which is more motivating than simply being told to do something. This might also include things like selecting their group or partner for a project, or choosing the way they present their learning to the class.
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this practice is to inspire new ways of giving students choice in your classroom, with the goal of promoting greater engagement. The resources in the toolkit provide inspiration and tools you can use to introduce choice in your classroom, including an introduction to learning menus and suggestions for rethinking partners and groups, seating arrangements, projects and other ways to demonstrate learning.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice can be easily adapted for K-12 students.
- When you should you try it? This practice can be tried any time during the school year.
- What materials are needed? You will need:
- Your lesson plan for an upcoming lesson
- Pen or pencil
- How much time is needed? This practice is estimated to take 35 minutes to complete.
If you’re ready to get started, follow the guidelines in our toolkit to learn more!
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