The Office of Faculty Development

Building Student Agency

Agency is “a person’s capacity to leverage resources to create positive change in their lives” (Kundu 2020, 2021).  Student agency includes student access to the skills and resources necessary to support their own self-efficacy such as grit and perseverance, power or control over one’s own learning experiences, and physical access to resources supporting student learning or, to a certain extent, academic success.  By supporting students in developing the skills associated with and offering access to the resources and power necessary for agency, students can take more control over their learning, build self-efficacy, and more successfully achieve self-actualization.

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    Examine selected research on student agency:

    Kundu, A. (2014). Backtalk: Grit, Overemphasized; Agency, Overlooked. The Phi Delta Kappan, 96(1), 80-80. in new window)

    Luo, H., Yang, T., Xue, J., Zuo, M. (2018). Impact of Student Agency On Learning Performance and Learning Experience in a Flipped Classroom British Journal of Education Technology. 50(2): 819-831. in new window)

    Laird, T. (2005). College Students' Experiences with Diversity and Their Effects on Academic Self-Confidence, Social Agency, and Disposition toward Critical Thinking. Research in Higher Education, 46(4), 365-387. in new window) 

    Mcintyre, A. (2006). Activist Research and Student Agency in Universities and Urban Communities. Urban Education, 41(6), 628–647. in new window)


    Ready to apply strategies to support development of student agency to your teaching? Here are some ideas and strategies to get you started:

    1. Have students collaborate in creating your classroom norms or policies.
    2. Develop an assessment that provides students with multiple options for how to demonstrate understanding/success.
    3. Allow students to take part in designing an assessment.
    4. Create a task or unit that allows students to work at their own pace.
    5. Create a task or unit that allows students to select from a “menu” of activities with which to engage to learn the content.