It’s only recently that I’ve become much more disciplined in my use of the term “student agency” and how I apply it.

Thanks to a research assignment on behalf of the Center for Innovation in Education’s Assessment for Learning Project, I’ve learned that the term—and related terms, such as “self-regulated learning”—has a rich lineage of researchers and practitioners who have carefully defined it.

By looking across researchers (1), practitioners, and other thought leaders (2), common elements arise that begin to suggest a consensus.

What the heck is student agency--and why do we need it?

Related: What student choice and agency actually looks like

From these sources, the dust seems to settle on a concept of “student agency” that involves four distinct components. The first three are temporally linked covering future, present, and past:
• Setting advantageous goals
• Initiating action toward those goals
• Reflecting on and regulating progress toward those goals

About the Author:

Jenny’s mission is to impact social justice by modernizing the public education system to be more responsive to the needs of all learners, especially those most historically under-served. Currently, Jenny is consulting on projects of interest while serving as Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) Fellow. As a Fellow, Jenny supports sense-making for CIE’s Assessment for Learning Project.


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