The Importance of Exploring Student Perspective When Making Educational Policy

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Educational policy is usually formed without the voice of those it affects most: students. Cook-Sather (2002) advocates for the inclusion of student perspectives as a unique voice that can influence educational policies in "Authorizing Students Prospectives: Toward Trust, Dialogue, and Change in Education." Understanding how students' easy access to electronic media influences their situated position, Cook-Sather writes, "Authorizing student perspectives recognizes and responds to the profound and unprecedented ways in which the world has changed and continues to change and the position students occupy in relation to this change" (Cook-Sather, 2002, p. 3-4). Never before have students had so much information available and under their own command. This change in the dynamics of obtaining and using information also changes the power structure in education and the way in which students create their own knowledge. Traditionally, students would have regarded teachers as the ultimate information holders; however, now they can quickly and easily substantiate or refute arguments or facts presented in class with electronic media. With this additional access to information, students can present more informed comments in class. Students have a valuable voice that should be heard and reflected in educational policy. Cook-Sather calls it the "missing voice in educational research: the student" (2002, p. 5). Before students can move into a more influential position regarding educational policies; teachers, administrators, and researchers all need to adjust the way they listen to students. The relationships that adults have with students; the institutional structures that teachers and students interact in; and the mindsets of teacher... ... middle of paper ... ...into one where students can communicate and access information in ways unimagined 20, 15, even 10 years ago. This changing world requires a different stance from researchers as well. "If we make student perspectives a regular part of the educational dialogue and action agenda, we may create a proactive stance to student academic engagement and achievement needs and subsequently contribute to a more responsive and innovative schooling process" (Spires et al, 2008, p. 513). Works Cited Cook-Sather, A. (May 2002). Authorizing student perspectives: Toward trust, dialogue, and change in education. Educational Researcher, 31(4), 3-14. Spires, H. A., Lee, J. K., Turner, K. A., & Johnson, J. (2008). Having our say: Middle school grade student perspectives on school, technologies, and academic engagement. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4), 497-515.

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