Addressing the silent participant: A journey toward equity of voice in the high school classroom

Victoria Daniel, an alum from Alder’s Master’s Pathway program, wrote a piece in the Journal of Teacher Action Research in April 2023.


Differences in culture, confidence, knowledge, and values are just some of the myriad factors accounting for students’ willingness or reluctance to include their voice in classroom conversations. But for too long, too many voices have been silenced by other forces or simply forgotten. Working on the theory that student voice–defined here as student speaking on classroom content with attention focused on them–is crucial to establishing equity in a classroom, this project followed an action-research process with the principle being the classroom should not be a place where . Thus, this action research project set out to see if targeted intervention strategies would increase the oral participation rates of seven silent participants. “Silent” students were identified as those who, over a period of four months of observation, never raised their hands to participate in class discussions and would rarely or never speak during small group discussions. Students engaged in goal setting, tallying, and reflection over the course of three weeks. In addition, surveys and observations provided rich sources of both quantitative and descriptive data, the results of which showed strong support for these methods as means of increasing participation. The project also revealed larger implications for teaching practice including the importance of reflection, small group collaboration, and the addressing of students’ fear of being wrong.

The full piece can be found here:

Daniel, V. (2023). Addressing the silent participant: A journey toward equity of voice in the high school classroom. Journal of Teacher Action Research10(1),