**Chapter 6 - Sharing Control and Giving Choices**

Learning Objectives

After reading and discussing the chapter, participants will be able to:

- Describe two ways that teachers can share power with students and how sharing control can promote learning.
- Devise a plan for sharing control of one item with your current students, including specific steps on how you would implement the plan.

## Chapter Summary

Giving students choices, or a share of the "control" of a learning situation is the focus of chapter 6. By giving students a voice in topics, textbooks, due dates, policies (attendance, late work), how many tests, how often to test, and even teaching methods will put students in a position of control of their own learning. The responsibility for learning will rest more on their shoulders. In his book "Learner-Centered Teaching," Terry Doyle lists three areas of sharing power with students. Some examples are below (Doyle, 2011).

Consider sharing power over

**course policies**, such as attendance, tardiness, late work, and retesting/rewriting. Using small groups, have students brainstorm some fair guidelines for each policy. They must consider the effect on learning as well as provide a reasonable rationale for their policies. Groups can share their ideas and a final policy will be developed.Another area that teachers can share power with students is in the arena of

**organizational issues**. Some of the many items in this category are assignment due dates, grading scale, topics for papers and projects, and how groups will be formed. As each item comes up in the class, provide students opportunities to share in the decision making. For example, the first time a large scale project is discussed, ask for student input on how topics should be assigned. When groups need to be formed, let the students share how they would like to split up to work on projects. the learning is being done by the students; let them have a voice in some the process.The third category that Doyle mentions revolves around

Although it may take students a little time to warm up to the idea of having input in their own educational process, they will come around and will appreciate the ability to share the power.

**teaching and content**. When possible, give students a voice in textbook selection, learning outcomes, teaching methods, discussion guidelines, and rubrics. Some of these areas have more leeway than others. For example, textbooks and learning outcomes may be mandated by a higher authority. However, teaching methods (discussion, projects, research papers, etc.), discussion guidelines and rubrics are much more flexible and are ways students can give valuable input and share control over those items.Although it may take students a little time to warm up to the idea of having input in their own educational process, they will come around and will appreciate the ability to share the power.

## Personal Connection

This is a difficult item for me to connect to personally. However, I did give students a wide variety of choices in the high school Multimedia course I taught several years ago. Students were allowed to select their own group members, but they had to rotate groups every quarter. When creating an educational website, students were given leeway to select their own grade level, subject, and topic. There were many other ways that allowed students more power in their own learning. However, I never gave students any options about testing, meeting times, tardiness or attendance. Secondary schools have more rules than college courses. As such, high school students will have much less opportunity for sharing control or power of the learning environment. With that in mind, I feel it is important for the items that CAN become a "shared power" issue be utilized as such. Collaborating on rubric criteria, group members, research topics, and other such items are areas that the K-12 system can allow students to have some say-so in the learning process.

## Suggestions for Implementation

In the area of K-12 education, teachers have many more school policies that they must abide by than post-secondary institutions. With that in mind, K-12 teachers must make take every opportunity to give students a sense of power in their own learning environment. Start with an area that you feel most comfortable giving up some control. One example revolves around rubrics. The K-12 area uses rubrics quite heavily. Before starting a project, let students brainstorm the categories on which the project should be judged. Once they have a list of five or six areas, then they will need to break down the qualities into points. What will constitute a "4" and what will be a "1". Going through these steps not only gives students a share of power, but makes them think about the quality of a project before they even start. There are other many other areas that teachers in K-12 education can share the power with their students. Consider all of them and find the one you feel most comfortable with and see if "sharing the power" helps your students take more ownership of their own learning.

**RESOURCE**:

Doyle, T. (2011).

__Learner-centered teaching: Putting the research of learning into practice__. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.