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Empowerment motivates students because they become active participants in a learning process provided that a teacher guides and controls the process. As it is said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl. 9:10 English Standard Version). Hence, holding the power over their education encourages students to use it for mastering knowledge.
Simmons and Page (2010) state that “individual freedom would motivate students to achieve scholastic excellence and embrace personal empowerment” (p. 65). An experiment they conducted in their classroom was meant to show whether it is possible to change “the power structure in classrooms” and, therefore, to encourage “creativity and motivate students to have power over their learning” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 65).
Thus, by sharing power with student teachers can stimulate the learning process. Furthermore, teachers constructed the heterogenic groups since “the best motivator for students is cooperation and friendly competition with their peers” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 67). So, the group of students had to come up with the ideas for the project by sharing their thoughts and encouraging one other.
The teachers ensured that groups consisted of students of “low, middle, and high achievers” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 66). Therefore, teachers helped the students to help one another and share knowledge. The primary motivators in the project were “collaboration”, “creative freedom”, and “equality” (Simmons & Page, 2010, pp. 67-68). The class collaboratively designed their grading system.
Moreover, the students were given “the freedom to choose how they would represent a theme” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 68). As a result, students created interesting and “insightful” works (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 68). Being able to grade and to decide about the grading system, students understood that “their voices counted”, and it “motivated students to express their ideas and act in a responsible manner” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 68).
Nonetheless, many students needed guidance from the teacher to understand that the standards and ideas should come from their peers, not the teacher. Finally, the teachers conducted the survey after the project to get feedback from their students and use it for “future motivation” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 68).
Some students experienced “too much pressure… to be judged by their peers” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 69). In general, though, students commented on the project positively and presented some good points for the future from their perspective.
In my opinion, empowerment of students motivates their creativity and improves interaction between peers. However, according to Brophy (2004), “learning should be experienced as meaningful and worthwhile, but it requires sustained goal-oriented efforts to construct understandings” (p. xii). Hence, a teacher’s control and guidance should be clearly presented to the students and practiced during their learning process.
Furthermore, I think the idea of creating the grading system should motivate students to be responsible for fulfilling the project at their best and grading their peers fairly. Moreover, the teacher’s participation in the grading also ensures the equality and impartiality as “the average of the teacher’s grade with the class’s grade produced each group’s final grade” (Simmons & Page, 2010, p. 67). Consequently, the main challenge is to create the stimulating, flexible but controlling environment for the learning process.
Sharing power with students motivates and encourages them since they learn to be creative, collaborative, and responsible for practicing the power. Teachers should not only guide the students but also control them during the process providing stimulating and flexible learning environment at the same time.
Brophy, J. (2004). Motivating students to learn (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Simmons, A. M., & Page, M. (2010). Motivating students through power and choice. English Journal, 100(1), 65-69.