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The importance of student choice in the classroom

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Students of all ages learn in different kinds of ways, and allowing your students to choose how they learn can be a powerful motivator in the classroom. The importance of giving your students a choice has become more understood in recent years but what does it look like and how do you use it in the classroom? 


What is student choice?


Student choice is about empowering your students so they understand their own learning processes as well as helping them make decisions about what it is that they want to learn. Instead of a one-size-fits-all all approach, it is your job as a teacher to recognise that each student has a unique learning style, interests and strengths. By giving your students the freedom to choose how and what they learn you will find that students become more engaged, motivated and invested in their education. As teachers, isn’t that all we really want from our students in the classroom? 

What are the benefits of allowing student choice? 


When students have a sense of ownership over what they learn, they become active participants in their own education. The benefits of this kind of empowerment for your students can be lifelong! 

  1. Increased motivation: When students have a say in what they learn they become more enthusiastic about the subject matter. Imagine a student excitedly researching a topic they are genuinely interested in. That enthusiasm translates into a stronger desire to learn and explore. 
  2. Fostering independence: When they are allowed to make decisions about what they learn, students are able to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. These are skills that will stay with them for life. 
  3. A positive learning atmosphere: One of the knock on effects of engaged students who have taken ownership of their studies is that educators will find they have more time to focus on students who are struggling or may need more assistance. This translates to a more positive learning environment for everyone.  
  4. Personalised learning: Students are individuals, each with a different learning style. Some may thrive with group discussions while others prefer individual assessments. Student choice allows room for teachers to tailor their instructions so they cater to more than one learning style. 


How to bring student choice into your classroom. 


Now you understand the benefits, we are sure you're keen to put student choice into practice but how do you bring student choice into your classroom? You’ll be pleased to hear that it doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your teaching methods. 

  1. Assessment pathways: Offer a number of ways for students to demonstrate their understanding. Some might prefer to submit a written report while others may well prefer to create something visual. 
  2. Project topics: Allow students to choose their own project subject. This can stay within the theme of a subject you’re already covering, for example if you are studying animals allow them to choose which animal they want to research and present on. 
  3. Group activities: Give students the opportunities to choose their partners.
  4. Flexible seating: Allow your students to choose where they sit. 
  5. Project format: As well as allowing your students to choose the topics they are studying you can also allow them to choose the method in which they present their work. They may choose to create a video presentation, write a report or even give a presentation. 
  6. Reading selection: Provide your students with a list of materials related to the lesson, allow them to choose the material that they want to study. 


Student choice in the classroom is a powerful tool that can revolutionise the way we approach education. By giving students the freedom to make decisions you can unlock their motivation, passion, and curiosity resulting in a classroom filled with engaged, empowered learners who are excited to embark on their educational journey. 


If you would like more resources and information about giving your students choices in the classroom take a look at our hand-picked blogs here and here


You can also read more blog posts from The English Classroom  here and be sure to sign up for our English teaching resources here. We will also send blog posts directly to your email.


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Written by Rebecca Sparling

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