Motivation and Participation

If a child wakes up and is excited to go to school they are more likely to attend. But if they are not feeling heard and confident, they are more likely to stay where they are, where they get to be themselves.

– Inuit community worker

The degree of engagement experienced and demonstrated by students is a key outcome of a school and classroom culture that facilitates youth empowerment. Student motivation to participate in all aspects of school life and classroom learning arises from their level of engagement.

When students have opportunities for significant and meaningful participation, their motivation and interest can soar. Teachers have described students who are engaged and involved in their learning as "passionate" and "enthusiastic". In class they ask questions or participate in other ways. Their body language, such as the way they are sitting in their seat or moving around the classroom, or their eye contact with their peers and adults, reveal their enthusiasm, energy and interest.

For students from marginalized groups, the very fact of their attendance in class may indicate an investment in their learning and a feeling of empowerment at some level; for example, given the collective history of abuse and consequent distrust for schools, the attendance of many First Nations, Métis and Inuit students may reveal that they feel a sense of belonging and acceptance within the school.

Schools where students feel empowered are likely to have a wider variety of clubs or other kinds of extracurricular activities with a healthy level of student participation. Students are directly involved in striving toward achieving their goals, and have important opportunities to make choices consciously and with pleasure. They pursue their interests, activating their personal will and agency.