Reader's Forum: Reaching for their own goals: A more democratic classroom

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Naomi Hashimoto & Steve Fukuda

While most research is written from the teacher’s perspective, this paper, which originated as a self-assigned report by the first author, considers the outcomes of a university English course from a student’s viewpoint. Many teachers criticize students for having no motivation or learning goals, forgetting they place students in teacher-controlled situations that influence motivation and goal-setting. In this pilot study, we explore the influence a more democratic classroom has on motivation when students work to achieve their own goals. Two courses were compared with a democratically-taught course for first-year engineering majors. Questionnaire results and student journal entries indicate students had positive attitudes and high motivation at the end of the course. Compared with the two other courses, the democratic course received higher marks in both satisfaction and achievement.