Research Abstract

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A growing body of literature asserts that student voice; active student engagement, shared power, inclusion and ownership in the learning process, has significant positive influence on outcomes and school improvement processes. Yet increasingly, education contexts are characterised by tight, conservative structures that impede student voice. These structures are evidenced in defined pathways, prescribed curriculum, tight regulation, requirements for extensive documentation and paperwork, and reliance on disciplinary discourses that alienate students. Alongside neoliberal policy approaches, is the increasing challenge of student disengagement, across the Western world.

“Even an education that is caring, lively and wise will not be effective in the long run if young people are not empowered to find their voice (Gidley, 2016, p. 249).

This research will produce an original contribution to the understanding of students’ voices in their own education, in the form of an ethnographic recount. Given the current context, it is crucial to identify the support teachers need; to hear, understand and act upon all students’ voices in schools, classrooms and learning and to understand the role power plays in the educational process.

Selected digital narrative artefacts, voluntarily shared anonymously by students with a voice in their learning, will be the stimulus for dialogue in an online learning community of volunteer teachers. Educators will have opportunities to hear students’ voices, engage with research, explore critical perspectives on the impact of student voice, and explore the implications for their own and the broader education context.

The research, a creative-based, digital ethnography, will involve analysis of the online dialogue, to create a book that supports and challenges an international audience of educators embarking on student voice initiatives and supporting students-as-researchers and students-as-activists roles.