Once teachers have the students’ attention, the next step is maintaining their interest, motivation, and disposition of engagement. Research says when students have control of their educational experiences, their ability to learn and retain the material increases. Today’s students are culturally diverse. Accepting, respecting, and responding to each learner’s unique contextual differences, learning styles, and readiness to learn is not an easy task by any means. Teachers need to provide options for students to show evidence of their learning and match the learning process to the abilities and experiences of the learners.
Reeves (2006) advocates choice as an essential component to motivating student to become and stay engaged in their learning.
A recurring theme of the research on motivation is choice. This does not mean that students have the choice of whether to engage in the assigned work, but it does mean that effective teachers can provide choices of how students engage in the work.
Caine and Caine (2006) support student choice by reminding us that learners make thousands of decisions every moment.
Humans have a biological imperative to make decisions in the moment. All students make thousands of moment-to-moment decisions; …Decisions making capabilities are built into the brain, and they are invoked when students ask genuine questions focused on what matters to them. Such decision making can naturally lead to the development of new knowledge.
Integrating student choice into instruction may seem somewhat unsettling to some educators. As Reeves (2006) points out, students are not choosing if they are going to engage in the assignment work, rather it is providing learners options of how to show of evidence of their learning. Caine and Caine (2006) reassures teachers that students are more than capable of focusing and attending to something that matters to them, which in turn leads to the development of new knowledge. Teachers acting as facilitators and clarifying how learning activities are directly linked to learning outcomes, can empower students to take charge and make decisions about how they learn. When teachers share the learning framework and deliver timely and frequent feedback, students become more responsible for gathering their own knowledge, rather than being supplied facts.