Student Choice

The Intervention

Student choice in the classroom allows the student to select a task or assignment from an offered set. Because the student is being given flexibility and ownership of the work being completed, the choice in itself should be reinforcing for the student. As such, providing choices can increase academic engagement and decrease disruptive behaviors. Providing choices also communicates that the teacher trusts and respects the student’s desires and gives students opportunities to practice making autonomous decisions. 

  1. As you create your teacher agenda or plan for the day, consider group or independent work blocks that could incorporate an aspect of choice. For example, if you have a reading block or a math work block, can the student select from two or three activities that target the appropriate skill? If you have the student complete a daily journal prompt, can you provide a variety of prompts to select from?
  2. Create clear expectations for the choice activity and review those with the student. Remind the student about the expectations whenever relevant.
  3. Praise and validate student choice making to reinforce the importance of autonomy, positive decision making, and student effort.
  4. Use Beacon progress monitoring tools to evaluate the extent to which this strategy is improving the target behaviors as intended.

  • Provide clear and concrete choices to avoid long, drawn out selection processes. At first, students may need some time to adjust to the idea of having a choice in their work content, but they likely will adjust with time.
  • Have clear expectations for choices (e.g., once you have made up your mind, you will not be able to change).
  • Choice can be done at the individual or group level. In some situations, it may work to provide options to the whole class (e.g., each morning ask what students would like to do for 10 minute activity break) and at other times it may be more advantageous to provide a specific student(s) with choice (e.g., which math activity to complete for student typically struggles with focus during math seat work).
  • Allowing students to make decision about their seating options or work groups is another way to incorporate choice. Although there may be periods of the day when you need students in particular seats, giving the opportunity to select a flexible work spot for free reading time or independent seat work can be an easy and advantageous way to incorporate choice. Alternatively, you may be able to ask students about preferences (e.g., student they do or do not want to sit near) and incorporate those into your seating chart.
  • If you need help implementing or evaluating this intervention, it may be helpful to seek out consultation from your school mental health professional or intervention team leader.

Because student choice does not effectively build the skills students need to independently meet age-appropriate expectations, it cannot be evaluated for effectiveness. The goal of student choice is to allow a student to feel more autonomy over and engagement with the class material and assignments. If this strategy is selected for use in the short term, it is recommended that it be replaced at some point with an intervention to help the student develop the skills needed to independently meet age-appropriate expectations for being productive and engaged when tasks are difficult or unengaging.


Intervention Scorecard

This intervention is recommended for the following presenting problems.

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Other suitable presenting problems