Student agency helps learning 'take off' – expert

Student agency helps learning

When students have agency in their own learning and have the language and tools to talk about their goals and progress their learning will “take off”, according to an internationally renowned educational data expert.

Education Services Australia Senior program director, Debra Masters, challenged schools to develop quality feedback processes that allow students to tell teachers what is and isn’t working for their learning.

Masters also encouraged principals and teachers to better understand what evidence they collect and use to make effective educational decisions that will impact student outcomes.

Masters was addressing more than 80 leaders and teachers from 31 independent schools attending the 5th Educational Data Symposium hosted by Independent Schools Queensland in Brisbane yesterday.

Masters told the symposium extensive research had shown one of the biggest contributors to improved learning outcomes was developing “assessment capable” students –  students who know their learning goals and how to assess their capability against them.

“We want students to have agency in their learning and ownership of their learning – not be passive receptors to learning. Sitting quietly is not being a good learner that’s behaving well,” she said.

Masters said collecting and using evidence should be a “process” in schools “not an event”.

ISQ executive director, David Robertson, said effectively using data to lead school and student improvement was a national policy priority.

“Using quality data to inform national education policy development and improve individual student learning outcomes at the classroom level is enshrined in the new National School Reform Agreement which will direct government and school efforts over the next five years,” he said.

Robertson said educational data had been a key professional learning focus for ISQ for the past five years.

“Our work with schools is not about providing technical solutions, but on supporting them strategically to ask the right questions to pinpoint what impact they want to have on their students, how they will measure it and what practices they will change to achieve it,” he said.

ISQ has developed seven online learning modules on educational data and its strategic use in schools which have been accessed by more than 400 teachers to date.