"Don't Ask Me; Ask Them!": Empowering Students to Lead Their Own Learning (and Each Other)

Open Access
Kohler, Hannah Elizabeth
Area of Honors:
Secondary Education
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Thesis Supervisor
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Honors Advisor
  • Michelle Renee Knotts, Faculty Reader
  • student-led discussion
  • English education
  • multimodal assessment
  • Secondary education
  • teacher inquiry
  • student teaching
The purpose of this teacher inquiry is to observe the dynamics of a secondary, advanced level English classroom when strategies are implemented to encourage student-led learning. Such research is relevant as high school administrators, policymakers, and teachers increasingly value student-centered models for teaching and learning, yet much of the research on student-led teaching methods is conducted on college campuses. In contrast, this inquiry is based in a non-traditional, democratic school setting that prioritizes student voice and leadership beyond the classroom. In pursuit of a student-led classroom, I challenged students to read an unmediated text, lead their peers in student-moderated discussion, create assessment materials on their readings, and design and defend a multimodal final project of their choosing. I hypothesized that these classroom activities would facilitate the creation of a more democratic classroom, amplifying student voice and encouraging authentic participation. I discovered that taking a student-led approach largely accomplished these goals, and students reported seeing value beyond my original goals.