Student Agency for Powerful Learning

Dilworth, Marianne

ET

Williams, P. (2017). Student agency for powerful learning. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 8-15. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1136307.pdf

In his article “Student Agency for Powerful Learning,” Williams defines student agency, and then explores how school librarians are uniquely qualified to nurture this attribute in students. Williams states that students develop agency when they have a strong sense of personal integrity and efficacy. When students demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and feel empowered to act, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning. Fostering student agency requires a pedagogical power shift away from traditional models of education.

Williams offers some practical suggestions for school librarians to lead the way. These suggestions include encouraging recreational reading, and collaborating with students on library design. To develop student voice, students can create books or artwork that become part of the library’s collection. Having students then cite their own work gives them a sense of ownership and identity as a creator. Williams argues that using these strategies to establish a collaborative, student-centered learning environment will help students ultimately become successful agents of their learning.

I found this article to be an interesting and engaging overview of the concept of student agency. A school community that aspires to build a learning commons, must first have a strong program that builds student agency. I like that Williams makes the clear distinction that encouraging student agency does not mean that he is advocating for an anything goes educational model. Instead, he states that structures and guides must be put into place that allow student creativity and voice to flourish.

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