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Trauma Informed Educational Practice

Working Definition

Empowerment refers to the process gaining mastery over one’s own life through exercising one’s rights, making choices, and actively participating in shaping one's circumstances (Rappaport, 1987).

Why it’s important to Student Learning and Academic Success

Benefits include:

  • Improved student engagement
  • Enhanced critical thinking skills
  • Increased self-efficacy and self-confidence
  • Increased self-directed learning

YouTube: The power of giving students choice (Great Schools, 2021)

Classroom Tools

Classroom Audit Materials

To foster empowerment, voice and choice, instructors need to be intentional about creating a learning environment where:

  • Learners are listened to and supported in expressing their views
  • Learners are involved in decision-making processes
  • Power and responsibility for decision-making is shared

Learner Empowerment Scale (Frymier, Schulman, & Houser, 1996)

Theoretical and Evidence-Based Practices

Empowerment theory (Peterson, 2014)

5 Ways to Empower Students (Svitak, 2012)

  • Identify and help build on student strengths
  • Encourage students to advocate for themselves (Imad, 2022)
  • Develop quality relationships with learners through the negotiation of power
  • Foster a sense of belonging by providing varied opportunities for learners to interact and connect with peers

Power, in the learning environment, should be viewed as fluid or mobile (Loizou & Charalambous, 2017). Consistently offer learners opportunities to give feedback, creating space for transformational and reflective dialogue in class. 

Required Institutional Supports for Success

  • Provide opportunities for faculty development on pedagogical practices that foster learner empowerment (Peterson, 2014).
  • Provide opportunities for students to work with faculty in creating policies (Armstrong, 2017).
  • Empowerment requires intentional supportive university and societal environments (Peterson, 2014). | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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