Is Responsiveness to Student Voice Related to Academic Outcomes?

The  Illinois Democracy Schools Network has kicked off its 2022-23 C.L.A.D. (Civic Learning Across Disciplines) webinar series. For the first session, Dr. Erica Hodgin,  Co-Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at the University of California, Riverside. explored the question,” Is Responsiveness to Student Voice Related to Academic Outcomes?”  This is the subject of some of her team’s current research and is especially significant for this year’s CLAD series theme–Student Voice.  

Her presentation began with establishing the nature of student voice in most schools.  While the student population makes up the largest group of stakeholders, their voice is probably the least heard–especially regarding decision-making.  And this is unfortunate, as the research indicates that students improve academically when student voice is valued in a school.  It is especially an advantage in re-engaging alienated students.

Dr. Hodgin shared an infographic by Eric Toshalis & Michael Nakkula  that shows the spectrum of student voice.”   The various levels especially consider the extent of student influence, responsibility, and decision-making.  Webinar participants were asked to consider where their schools might fall on this spectrum. 

But, it is not simply the existence of student voice in a school that was considered by this research: it specifically looks at the results when adults in the school listen to and respond to these voices.  These results might manifest themselves in three distinct ways: (1) school-level change, (2) classroom-level change, or (3) at an individual level–which results in an increased student agency, sense of belonging, and competence.  Using data from the 5Essentials, two items were noted: if students see adults in the school as responsive, there are reduced absenteeism rates, and students have a somewhat higher GPA. 

Participants then discussed several questions in small groups about their own experiences in their schools with responsiveness to student voice.  In the sharing session afterward, attendees offered additional insights on this topic–especially highlighting the role of parents, the importance of high school journalism as a vehicle for student voice, and the role of the teachers in elevating student voice by acknowledging the importance of power-sharing. 

If you are interested in this topic, please refer to these resources for more information:

~Full article and research brief

~Really listening to students has an academic payoff, research finds

~Nothing About Us, Without Us

~Elevating Student Voice in Education

~Amplifying Student Voice

You could access a recording on the Illinois Democracy Schools Network Webinar archive if you missed the webinar.

The Illinois Civics Hub and the Illinois Democracy Schools Network are hosting free after-school PD this year from our civic partners, including the News Literacy Project, the Stanford History Education Group, and the Civic Education Research Group. A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar. 

The Illinois Civics Hub also has a newsletter that shares our free PD that is open to all. You can subscribe here!