Student voice

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Shimer College
class, 1967

Student voice is the individual and collective perspective and actions of students within the context of learning and education.[1][2][3] It is identified in schools as both a metaphorical practice[4] and as a pragmatic concern.[5] Tech educator Dennis Harper noted that student voice gives students "the ability to influence learning to include policies, programs, contexts and principles."[6]


According to Adam Fletcher, student voice is a phenomenon that has always been present in schools; what makes it noticeable is the willingness of educators and others to listen to student voice.[7] Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter also argue that student voice should not be viewed as a form of "treason", but rather should be viewed as a partnership between adult and student.[8]

Student voice work is premised on the following convictions:

  • Young people have unique perspectives on learning, teaching, and schooling;
  • Their insights warrant not only the attention but also the responses of adults; and
  • They should be afforded opportunities to actively shape their education.[9]

Several typologies differentiate the practices that identify as student voice.

education system, including education planning, research, teaching, evaluating, decision-making and advocacy.[13][14]

Administrative approaches

The presence and engagement of student voice has been seen as essential to the educational process since at least the time of John Dewey, if not long before. In 1916 Dewey wrote extensively about the necessity of engaging student experience and perspectives in the curriculum of schools, summarizing his support by saying:[15]

The essence of the demand for freedom is the need of conditions which will enable an individual to make his own special contribution to a group interest, and to partake of its activities in such ways that social guidance shall be a matter of his own mental attitude, and not a mere authoritative dictation of his acts.

Today student voice is seeing a resurgence of importance as a growing body of literature

school reform activities, including research and evaluation.[18]

Curricular approaches

Specific types of activities that can specifically engage student voice include

Service learning