Small changes in teaching: Giving them a say

Posted on April 13th, 2016

James M. Lang, professor of English and director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, examines ways to give students more agency in the classroom through making modest but powerful changes in teaching. Lang argues that giving students control over their learning can improve their engagement and mastery, in such a way that they “want to grasp the material for its own sake, because they find it interesting, relevant, or beautiful.” Lang proposes three changes instructors can make:

  • Student-generated exam questions: Allow students to write their own exam questions and use some proportion of those questions on the actual exam.
  • Open assessments: Give students a choice in how they are assessed within a course and which assignments they will need to complete.
  • Class constitutions: Work with students to develop a set of ground rules and allow students to help shape the curriculum.