Involving Students in The Learning Process

By Vernon Kearl

I have recently had the opportunity to attend a few sessions on the topical subject of ‘growth mind-set’ quite obviously the subject itself generated a very interesting discussion in the staff room! The fallout from this discussion resulted in one simple question – how do we get our students involved in their own learning?

One way is to develop a series of strategies to support the teaching and learning and promote a ‘can do’ ethos in the learning environment, these strategies should be designed to give the student ownership and involvement in the learning process.


In order to achieve this there a 5 things to consider:

Remove the fear of failing.

During a recent teaching session on the key influences to an individual’s learning, one of the students made a comment that one of the biggest problems that she faced was the pressure to succeed and the fear of failing. Is it wrong to fail? Surely one of the key aspects of development is learning from our failings? Take a teaching approach that removes the fear of failing in the classroom and promotes the opportunity for students to try something new and experiment with their learning?


Try to give feedback straight away, if they get something wrong show them why, there is no need to wait to the end of the assignment as it will be too late to make changes. Ensure that the feedback is constructive and provides opportunities to improve, immediate feedback will allow you to assess the impact towards learning sometimes in the same day. Good feedback develops confidence. We know how to raise a cause for concern but how often do we celebrate success?  Praise goes a long way to build confidence, but be unique every student has different strengths and capabilities and these need to be recognised. Reward attitude as well as aptitude.

Set Manageable goals.

Teach the students how to set their own goals – Be realistic! They have to be able to achieve them, use the goals as a means of keeping them on track rather than a means to measure success.

Remove barriers and negative beliefs.

Students are under immense pressure to succeed and there is a constant fear of failure, in addition some learners will lack motivation and a commitment to learn. During a tutorial discuss the negative thoughts that they may have, we have all heard the “I can’t do this because” – “I didn’t have time, I don’t know how to”.  Invest time in challenging their mind-set, support them in identifying the problems and involve them in overcoming them.

Student Voice

Listen to the students and act on concerns. Provide the students with an opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions, using a debate or discussion is an excellent instrument to teach students how to disagree and challenge viewpoints respectfully.


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