In education, student voice refers to the values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students in a school, and to instructional approaches and techniques that are based on student choices, interests, passions, and ambitions.
As a school- or instructional-improvement strategy, the concept of student voice has grown increasingly popular in recent decades. Generally speaking, student voice can be seen as an alternative to more traditional forms of governance or instruction in which school administrators and teachers may make unilateral decisions with little or no input from students. For a more detailed discussion of the concept, see voice.
Historically, student councils and other forms of student-led government were the most common channels for students to share their opinions and viewpoints, but many of these opportunities did not allow students to make authentic contributions to the leadership of a school. Increasingly, more school districts now have voting or nonvoting student seats on the school board, and some states even elect student representatives to the state board of education. Students may also be asked to serve on a formal committee, such as a school-improvement committee, or participate in the hiring of a new superintendent, principal, or teacher. In addition to taking on leadership roles in a school, student voice is playing a larger role in instructional decisions. Students may be involved in selecting education materials, or they may be given more choices over learning content, products, and processes in the classroom (which educators consider to be a form of student voice). In addition, students may write stories for their school or community newspapers, and they may blog about their opinions about and experiences in school.
The Glossary of Education Reform by Great Schools Partnership is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.