Student Ownership and Meaningful Student Involvement

SoundOut students brainstorming their definitions of student voice.

Student ownership is the level of investment a learner has in learning, teaching and leadership anywhere throughout the education system.

Increasingly popular within classroom teaching and curriculum, student ownership can also be a significant factor in school improvement, district school boards, and state agencies, as well as other education programs and activities.

What It Is

Student ownership is often mistaken for student empowerment, student voice and student engagement. They are not synonyms. Instead, student ownership is the amount of investment learners have in the topics they are learning, the methods they are learning through and the places where learning happens. Student ownership does not automatically happen through any specific method. It can be fostered through many different approaches, when done right.

Students and adults acknowledge their mutual investment, dedication, and benefit, visible in learning, relationships, practices, policies, school culture, and many other ways. Meaningful Student Involvement is not just about students themselves; rather, it insists that from the time of their pre-service education, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, counselors, and others see students as substantive, powerful, and significant partners in all the different machinations of schools. When they have this commitment every person will actively seek nothing other than to fully integrate students at every turn.

Do you know the Basics of Student Voice?
Do you know the Basics of Student Voice?

How It Happens

If teachers, principals, counselors or other adults throughout schools want to support students to actually own their learning, they should:

  • Be a learning partner, not a provider. Student/adult partnerships are key for fostering student ownership of learning, teaching and leadership.
  • Dedicate classroom time to self-discovery. At all ages, students must have a sense of who they are, how they learn, what they want to learn, and why they want to learn what they want to learn.
  • Provide supports for pursuing passion. From cross-checking student interests against state standards to using curricular approaches that foster curiosity, students should be encouraged to follow their interests.
  • Create space for mistakes. Teach students the success of failure, support their grasps for the unknown and allow room for error. Students feel comfortable messing up when they know they won’t be punished for it.

What It Looks Like

When done right, student ownership looks like:

  • Internal student motivation—Students feel compelled towards accomplishing a goal of their own.
  • Shared learning goals—All grades of students and their teachers share the purposes of classroom time as a common task.
  • Identified relevance—Students see and understand how, why and what makes learning matter to them.
  • Demonstrable outcomes—Learning is evident in products, portfolios and other evidence of classroom time.
  • Self-driven applications—Lessons from student learning are applied to daily activities as frequent, obvious and applied learning.

There are many different strategies and activities that can lead towards ownership. However, there are many characteristics that can be fostered by educators in order to foster ownership.

You Might Like…

Elsewhere Online

6 replies on “Student Ownership and Meaningful Student Involvement”

pretty cool broooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Hi Elizabeth, and thanks for the comment. If you’re interested in seeing action, you can find several other pages on with info.

1. You can find real examples of action at

2. You can get real lesson plans to build skills for student engagement at

3. You can find our program for infusing student voice in action throughout education at

There are A LOT of ways to build student ownership into classrooms and strengthen curriculum through student engagement and voice. Check out our resources and let us know what you think, and thanks for your note!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s