Putting Student Choice First

One of the most powerful ways to propel youth forward and enhance their learning is to offer up choice when it comes to what they want to learn.


According to Impact of Student Choice and Personalized Learning, student choice is considered to have a similar set of benefits to those associated with personalized learning. In particular, by empowering students to exercise a degree of autonomous decision making, student choice makes students active participants in their educations, thereby increasing levels of engagement. The report also highlights the fact that such autonomy is generally associated with greater personal well‐being and satisfaction in educational environments, as well as in terms of academic performance. Additional studies have also found that students who are given a degree of choice about their learning showed improvement on standardized tests. These are just some of the benefits of incorporating student choice in curriculum.


We asked some of our Directors and Coordinators to share how they prioritize student choice within their AlphaBEST programming:

“Our students get a variety of choices in our programs. When staff plan clubs for the students in their care, they involve them in the planning process. A simple conversation with the group they are working with on ‘what would you like to do’ makes the students feel valued, and the teachers get buy-in from them as they chose the subject matter of the club. It’s a win-win for all in our programs.” – Debbie Diederichsen, District Director, Prince William County and Manassas CityAlphaBEST Education, Inc.


“Student choice is at the core of the AlphaBEST Maker Zone. The open-ended challenges provide a loose structure within which students choose and innovate creative solutions. Instructors set up a ‘Maker Buffet’ of assorted materials where students choose the tools and materials that inspire them.”– Laura Cole, Curriculum Specialist, AlphaBEST Education


“When the children have free time in the New Jersey programs, they usually participate in clubs or activities of their own choice. The staff provide materials and instruction based on the interest of the children. The staff may make suggestions for club ideas and the children know that they can ask for specific clubs. For example, if a Site Director notices that they have a group of children who are particularly interested in art, they may suggest a painting club. The possibilities are endless!” – Jeanette Rysdeck, Regional Director, New Jersey, AlphaBEST Education, Inc.