The Participation of Students in Their Education

13 July, 2020
When students are active participants in their own education, a more enriching learning environment is created inside the classroom. It also allows students to express their opinions and value the teaching-learning process much more.

The participation of students in their education encourages autonomy and self-regulation in children. It’s important for education centers to provide enriching and empowering opportunities for students. That way, they’ll act as active subjects in school life and feel motivated towards the academic learning they receive.

Students’ participation in their education

The participation of students in their education means encouraging autonomy and a right to make decisions in the teaching-learning process.

In this sense, we can say that participation is the ability to have an influence over reality in order to produce material and symbolic changes. But, unfortunately, this continues to be a pending task for most academic institutions.

There are a variety of ways to encourage student participation in schools. Below, we’ll mention a few of these methodologies, as defined by Michael Fielding. We’ll go from the greatest level of participation and work our way down to the least.

  • Intergenerational learning: This is based on a participative democracy, maximizing the shared commitment and responsibility between children and adults for the common good. Individuals learn from one another during the shared work process and in spaces of dialogue with a deliberative goal.
The Participation of Students in their Education

  • Students as investigators: Children become the protagonists of their own learning, having more autonomy and depending less on their teacher.
  • Students as co-investigators: Teachers initiate projects, thus assuming the principal role of providing active and visible support to the voices of their students.
  • Listening to studentsEducators ask students questions, allowing them to be agents of active response. They invite students to dialogue and discuss in order to deepen their learning.
  • Students as a source of information: Educators ask children questions in order to obtain information and know their opinions.

How to implement methodologies that encourage students to participate in their education?

To begin involving students in the educational context, you first need to do so within the intensity and scope of the most basic level of participation. In other words, by suggesting initiatives where students participate as informants.

Then, you can continue to advance towards greater levels of participation. These levels must take into account the opinions of students and guarantee their value. In other words, students have a more relevant role in bringing about change.

Therefore, introducing participative methodologies in schools consists of a process that should occur gradually and progressively.

The objective of student participation

The objective of participation can focus on the organization and management of the academic institution. This involves proposing structures and spaces that allow students to participate in the making of important decisions. In other words, decisions that affect any area that has to do with school life.

The Participation of Students in their Education

In this type of institutionalized participation we find the following components:

  • School council.
  • Delegates from the group.
  • The board of delegates.
  • Student associations.

At the same time, we can talk about the role of students in the negotiation of curriculum and academic justice. Here, we’re talking about employing deliberative everyday processes in the classroom. For example, reflection, criticism, argumentation, public debate, etc. This allows the school to build a curriculum while taking into account the opinions of students regarding their own education.

There are also participation initiatives that are based on teacher improvement. This involves listening to students and allowing them to dialogue about the following:

Finally, the goal of the participation of students in their education can focus on how students participate in the improvement of physical, social, and relational aspects with their community. In short, there are many ways to include and involve students in the school context. And, in doing so, we achieve a more diverse and enriching academic environment.

  • Fielding, M. (2011). La voz del alumnado y la inclusión educativa: una aproximación democrática radical para el aprendizaje intergeneracional. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación de Profesorado, 25(1), 31–61.
  • Oliva Delgado, A., Antolín Suárez, L., Pertegal Vega, M. Á., Ríos Bermúdez, M., Parra Jiménez, Á., Hernando Gómez, Á., y Reina Flores, M. D. C. (2011). Instrumentos para la evaluación de la salud mental y el desarrollo positivo adolescente y los activos que lo promueven. Junta de Andalucía: Consejería de Salud.
  • Susinos, T. y Ceballos, N. (2012). Voz del alumnado y presencia participativa en la vida escolar. Apuntes para una cartografía de la voz del alumnado en la mejora educativa. Revista de Educación, (359), 24-44.