Engagement Through Choice: Using Independent Research Projects to Improve Student Interest

Alexander Kerr, Rachel Grasby


Four middle school teachers set out to test whether choices offered during an independent research process would serve as a vehicle for increased student engagement. Their students participated in two writing projects—the first with limited choice, and the second with greater choice. Data were collected to gauge student interest and effort as they progressed through both projects. Higher levels of choice within research projects correlated with students’ feelings of success, higher levels of achievement, and improved intrinsic motivation. These findings underscore the value in differentiating instruction and democratizing the curricular content we deliver.


Choice, Intrinsic motivation, effort, engagement, interest,

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