Youth Voice in Self-Driven Learning as a Context for Interdisciplinary Learning

Gaoxia Zhu


The recognized importance of including student voice in learning has grown. Youth leadership, which empowers young people to choose the learning topics that they are passionate about, may provide a context for exploring complex issues that demand interdisciplinary solutions. This study explored the extent to which youth chose to pursue interdisciplinary learning topics and why they chose certain learning topics (i.e., task values ) when they were supported to lead their own learning. Through a content analysis of the application materials of 800 youth (Mage =16.59) participating in a 10-week self-driven learning program called GripTape, we found that 44% of learners chose interdisciplinary learning topics. Youth who chose interdisciplinary learning topics placed significantly greater prosocial value on learning but placed lower intrinsic or interest value than those who chose single-subject topics. The selection of interdisciplinary learning topics was positively correlated with social science-relevant learning topics; social science-relevant learning topics were positively correlated with prosocial value. The results suggest that when youth voice is empowered in self-driven learning, youth may be willing to explore complex societal issues and pursue interdisciplinary knowledge. 

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