Empowering Your Students

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What’s an Empowered Student? asks instructors to consider not only why student empowerment matters, but also how it can be achieved through the dimensions of meaningfulness, competence, impact, and choice.

Meaningfulness, or how well a course aligns to students’ “beliefs, ideals, and standards,” motivates students to “work hard and produce quality work.” The dimension of competence relates to whether students feel “qualified and capable” of accomplishing what a course asks of them. If a course includes the dimension of impact, students believe the work they are doing makes a positive difference. And finally, choice comes into play when students have a role in determining course-related goals and how they will accomplish them.

Instructors can inspire this sense of empowerment in students in a variety of ways. They might outline what students need to do in order to succeed in a course (i.e., student best-practices). Instructors might, depending on course subject and size, allow students some decision-making for topics covered or assignments. Relating course topics to current events can also inspire a sense of student empowerment. As the article suggests, “empowered learners do better in courses and in life,” making the effort to empower students a worthy goal for all instructors.