Engagement through Autonomy

Learning Landscape Wednesday, 13 July 2022

At Living Faith, one of the fundamental focuses of our learning program is to engage students. Motivation expert Daniel Pink outlines the three main drivers for engagements as autonomy, purpose and mastery.

We design our learning experiences with these three drivers in mind, designing projects that have a purpose, allow students to feel a sense of achievement and provide students with an opportunity to have a say in how and sometimes what they learn. Giving kids autonomy and the feeling that they are in control of their learning is essential in keeping them engaged.


There are numerous ways that students' voices influence our learning programs. Each year, students undertake an engagement survey where they highlight the areas of the curriculum that work for them and areas that they want to see improved. They can provide suggestions and indicate their level of engagement and enjoyment in projects, activities and subjects. This feedforward is crucial to ensuring that what we do is effective and enjoyable for those who are directly impacted. An example of how this feedforward has shaped the Living Faith we know today is through our success criteria. In 2016, students indicated through this survey that they were unsure of how they could improve their work. Teachers took on this feedforward to develop the current “cool, warm and hot’” success criteria to provide students with a clear picture of exactly how they could improve their work. Many of the great things that we currently do today came directly from the ideas, needs or questions of our students.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) also provides an opportunity for significant student input into projects. At the start of each PBL unit, students are given the big driving question or problem and then participate in an entry event designed to spark interest and engagement in the topic. Students use this entry event to brainstorm what they will need to learn to answer this big question or to solve the problem. These ideas, together with the Australian Curriculum, shape the gateways of the unit.

Students are our most valuable resource for continued improvement. Not only do their ideas and creativity hold endless possibilities, but they are also in the best position to explain what works and what doesn't work for them.

We believe that it is our responsibility to provide opportunities for students to have their say in their education so that we can enhance engagement and truly foster a lifelong love of learning.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning