6 Questions to Promote Learner Agency

Decorative: A word cloud on the theme of "learner agency"


"6 Questions to Promote Learner Agency" (post) outlines a heuristic for assessing whether a lesson, class, or pedagogy provides "student-driven, authentic learning experiences."

  • "[M]ost [students] describ[e] ... the teacher as the sole source of information": even with "fun and engaging activities ... [a]ll the books or articles ... and all feedback and guidance [may be] provided by the teacher."
  • "When we want a different outcome, we have to challenge our own process, assumptions, and actions as we work to create new norms and systems."

1. What Agency Is and Why It Matters

  • "Agency is by definition the power to act."
  • It allows "opportunities for learners to have choice and opportunities to drive their own learning process with shared goals and expectations ... to seek information and learn to learn."
  • "It is critical that we are asking these questions [below] (and more) and helping learners understand that learning is a lifelong pursuit rather than something we do for a test or for the teacher." 

2. Six General Questions for Instructors

  • "Why are we doing it this way?"
  • "Is this having the impact I was hoping for?"
  • "Is there a better way?"

C. The Six Specific Questions  for Students (or for Instructors to Consider the Student Perspective)

  • "What do you know and what do you still need to know?"
  • What resources -- i.e. books, articles, videos -- might help you learn more?"
  • "How does this connect to what you already know?"
  • "What are some creative ways to solve this problem?"
  • "Who are experts you can learn from?"
  • "How will you share what you are learning?"
A Chart: "High Agency = Student-centered, student voice, constructivism, active, doing, elective, intent participation, in control"; "Low agency = Teacher-centered, authoritarian, transmission, passive, watching, compulsory, assembly line, programmed"


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