Choice: It’s only a perception

In our Pedagogy class today, students co-engaged on the ideal way to structure learning: contingencies (e.g., work for grades) vs. exploratory learning (e.g., self-motivated learning).

We talked about the balance between accountability systems and and self-accountability. We concluded that we needed an education system to meet both audiences: those who are self-motivated and those who could be.

Then, we went on to discuss other topics, alluding to choice. Fowler said something to the effect of… “We aren’t providing an unstructured environment for students to do whatever they want; we are just providing them with a sense of agency.”

Choice, or the perception of choice, contributes to self-motivated learning. Nobody wants to be told what to do. Our top-down, instructor-dominated, and power imbalanced environment provides no sense of choice or agency. And yet we wonder why students do not engage or exhibit discretionary behavior.

I believe choice is simply a perception. We want a perceived sense of choice. A teacher  can provide this perceived choice by simply allowing students to adjust the syllabus or make decisions throughout the course. If choice is a perception and it doesn’t require a lot of extra effort for the teacher and it contributes to self-motivated learning, shouldn’t this be our focus as teachers?

My question to you: is choice a perception? If so, how can we give students a sense of choice in the classroom?


~ by shanemccarty on February 22, 2012.

One Response to “Choice: It’s only a perception”

  1. It was a choice that led a student to go to college, to take a class, and to choose a major. We all tend to forget that we made the decisions that bring us to our current circumstances. Teachers should always give students a choice, but additionally remind students that they are in control. We seem to give away our control too easily.

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