Three Ways Student Voice Can Elevate Motivation and Engagement

January 27, 2017

If you spend enough time in middle school or high school classrooms, you know teachers work hard to keep students engaged and motivated. Amplifying student voice is a core strategy to boosting engagement and motivation. The Students at the Center Series report Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice by Dr. Eric Toshalis and Dr. Michael J. Nakkula explores how those three elements interact to promote student success.

Why is student voice so important?

  1. Agency has been linked to a variety of important educational outcomes: Students who exercise their voice and are given agency over their education have been linked to greater achievement levels, greater classroom participation, better self-reflection and preparation, and decreases in behavioral problems.
  2. Students are drawn to places where their voice is encouraged: Students congregate where they can express themselves. Educators can find ways to incorporate choice, expression, and self-determination in classroom activities and create spaces where students have a voice. If you’re not sure how to promote student voice in your classroom, check out this professional development module.
  3. To learn something deeply, students need to internalize it and make it their own: According to the report, “Student voice activities revolve around the development and application of individual students’ skills, ideas, and connections to others.” Creating activities that integrate what they care about, will help students get and stay engaged, and learn more deeply.


Motivation, engagement, and voice are the trifecta of student-centered learning. To learn more about how these three elements interact to promote student success, read the full report by Dr. Eric Toshalis and Dr. Michael J Nakkula here.

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