“Kids know everything”: Educators of adolescents on student voice and curriculum evaluation

Paul Michael Beaudin, Fordham University


This qualitative, hypothesis-generating study examined four research questions related to the issue of student voice in the pursuit of hypotheses for further research. Specifically, it examined the perception of educators on the relationships that they have with adolescents regarding curriculum; the receptivity of these same educators to including adolescents in the evaluation of curriculum; how helpful educators perceive such student feedback might be; and, what they believe that students can contribute to the process of curriculum evaluation. Grounded on Dewey and White's democratic and political theories of education, as well as on Freire's concept of radical pedagogy, the study first considered the work that had been done by educators and researchers among adolescents in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. In the decade preceding the standards movement and the passage of NCLB, adolescents were afforded an opportunity to contribute to conversations about curriculum in its broadest sense from the streets of inner-city Philadelphia to the classrooms of Queensland. They were able to add their unique perspective to the educational debate in increasingly formal ways. Much of the movement has been documented by Cook-Sather, Mitra, Fielding, Flutter, Wilson and Corbett, among others. Seventeen educators of adolescents representing five very different New York schools participated in interviews in spring, 2010, to explore the issues raised by the research questions in the current educational environment dominated by standards and assessment. What was revealed in the interviews was that these educators provide a variety of opportunities for students to express voice in informal ways; that educators believe that students have the capacity to provide honest feedback; that students can share an awareness of what is taking place within a school that no adult may be privy to; and, that, despite all of that, the educators are fearful of hearing what students have to say. The hypotheses generated relate to the consultative relationship that exists between administrators and students, often at the exclusion of the teacher; to teachers' fear of hearing honest feedback; to educators' difficulty in planning meaningful and engaging learning experiences when they believe that a high-stakes exam looms ahead of them; and; to the relationship that exists between classroom engagement and student motivation.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Beaudin, Paul Michael, "“Kids know everything”: Educators of adolescents on student voice and curriculum evaluation" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3452782.