A Review of
"Learning from Student Voices,"
a Special Edition of Theory into Practice.
Meaningful Student Involvement Research Review by Adam Fletcher.
edition of Theory into Practice offers a comprehensive scan of
research surrounding Meaningful Student Involvement by highlighting
what “student voice” is, and how it can be engaged throughout schools.
The authors cover a variety of topics and offer rationale for
listening to students, barriers to student involvement, engaging
“student voice” in constructivist classrooms, issues of social justice
and authenticity, and how pre-service teachers can – and must – learn
Throughout this edition the authors
offer a variety of perspectives on “student voice,” offering
optimistic predictions, detailed accounts, thoughtful reflections, and
cautionary criticisms that strengthen the argument for meaningful
student involvement. The stories told here encourage educators to
seriously engage students in changing classrooms and teaching.
“Learning from children’s voices allows us to know a deeper level
children are as learners and, because we have that knowledge, to
expand and enrich our sense of what it means to teach” (p130). The
same journal also warns that teachers “must resist the temptation to
glamorize student voices, and recognize that the multiple voices that
students bring to the classroom, while potentially possessing some
elements of resistance and transformation, are likely to be imbued
with status quo values” (O’Loughlin 1995 p112).
In editing this edition,
professor Penny Oldfather sought to “reexamine fundamental assumptions
about the purposes of education, the nature of knowledge, the
processes of coming to know, and the roles of students as the
principal stakeholders in education” (p86). According to Oldfather,
various forms of constructivism, critical theory, and feminist thought
influenced these articles. Throughout the journal, educational
research was scrutinized using the interpretive methodologies of
students’ perceptions. “This analysis gives further support to the
thesis that there is much to be learned from students’ voices” (p86).
Articles explore case studies and critical theories, encouraging the
reader to explore practice and examine their own assumptions
The final chapters detail two
experiences of students listening to other students’ experiences. In
the first of the two, students participate in a multi-year research
project exploring teachers’ perceptions about student motivation to
learn. The last chapter details a conversation with several students
who originally participated in a structured students-as-researchers
project, then continued their study after the program. This
conversation captures their multi-faceted thoughts about research,
student involvement, and motivation.
This edition of
Theory into Practice offers a
comprehensive examination of all aspects of Meaningful Student
Involvement, particularly exploring specific roles for students as
agents of school change. This exploration of the barriers to
involvement, multiple identities, and the purpose of “student voice”
is centrally important to the library of information supporting
meaningful student involvement.
journal is available online here.