Understanding the impacts of Meaningful Student Involvement on learning is essential for infusing the approach throughout classrooms. This article explores why that’s so and how it can happen.
When incorporated throughout learning and relationship-building in schools, it is more impactful on both students and adults. When it’s deeply brought into learning, relationships, practices, and policies, it will surely affect the culture of education. In turn, not only does it affect students and adults, but it affects the entire education system. It is only logical to assume that will produce the greatest number of outcomes. Stories throughout the rest of this book support that assumption. Meaningful Student Involvement can be a powerful and effective force for school improvement, increasing students’ commitment to their own achievement as well as to school goals and making schools, in turn, more responsive to the characteristics and needs of their students.
Meaningful Student Involvement does not force students to assume responsibility for every aspect of their learning and development. Instead, it assumes that educators are capable of facilitating students’ gradual assumption of responsibility. Through direct instruction, students build their knowledge of education, learning, teaching, leadership, student voice, the education system at large, school improvement, and Meaningful Student Involvement. Educators teach students about the functions of education research; school planning; classroom teaching; learning evaluations; systemic decision-making; and advocacy.
Collaborations at Heart
By establishing strategic Student/Adult Partnerships, educators can model and guide lifelong learning and determined action for school improvement. Mitra writes,
“[B]y assuming responsibilities and enacting decisions that have consequences for themselves and others… participating students develop a broad set of competencies that help them prepare for adulthood.” (2004)
They collaborate with learners in collegial learning communities, emphasizing every students’ ability to create positive change. They also give students plenty of opportunities for positive independent work that is deliberately chosen for its impact. This is not make-busy work or filler; instead, both students and adults understand that it is integral to the purpose of Meaningful Student Involvement. Again, adults deliberately model for students that they do this, too, as a course of their regular work in education as well as for the purpose of meaningfully involving learners. Finally, regular opportunities for reflection and sharing among students and between students and adults emphasize mutual learning and deep impacts. All of this can lead to deepened learning, which is the foundational aim of Meaningful Student Involvement.