Monday, April 12, 2010

Empowering students through the use of the democratic classroom

McArdle, J., Numrich, A., Walsh, K. 2002. Empowering students through the use of the democratic classroom. Masters Thesis, Saint Xavier University.


The purpose of this masters thesis was to use the democratic classroom in an effort to improve student’s attitudes towards school. This study was conducted in three sixth grade classrooms in a major Midwestern city. It was conducted over a four month period beginning in September and ending in January of the same academic school year. The researchers used two primary components to define “democratic classroom”: providing student choice and daily classroom meetings. The researchers used a baseline survey and student reflection journals to track student perceptions of school. The researchers reported finding that generally students responded more favorably to school as reported in surveys and reflection journals. The report did not find that a democratic classroom improved attendance over the duration of the study. The researchers concluded that providing student choice in assignments and holding daily class meetings were a positive improvement for both teachers and students.

From the Text:

“This goal is to help students become active, critical, and involved, and is based upon the assumption that students will achieve success if they take a greater responsibility for their own learning" (11).

“Today, students are rarely invited to become active participants in their own education. Schooling is typically about doing things to children, not working with them. An array of punishments and rewards is used to enforce compliance with an agenda that students rarely have any opportunity to create. Establishing a democratic classroom helps improve students’ individual rights and influence" (12).

Other Sources:

Brunson, D.A. & Vogt, J.F. (1996). Empowering our students and ourselves: A liberal democratic approach to the communication classroom. Communication Education, v45 n1 p73-83 Jan 1996.

Landau, B. (2000). Creating peaceful classrooms: judicious discipline and class meetings. Phi Delta Kappan, 81(6), 450.

1 comment:

emily said...

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