Does student agency benefit student learning? A systematic review of higher education research

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

This is a systematic review conducted to explore the primary research literature on student agency in higher education, as well as links between student agency and student learning. Out of more than 2,300 results, 42 articles published between 1980 and 2021 were assessed. Of these, 29 studies were included in a narrative review based on their centrality of student agency and methodological quality. We found that a student agency perspective is integrated into research focussed on assessment and feedback, globalisation and internationalisation, knowledge production, learning analytics, learning connections and transfer, real-life learning situations, and student-focussed teaching and learning. Our study reveals that researchers report a link between sources of agency and student agency, as well as between agency and individual outcomes, but the relationship between agency and societal outcomes requires further investigation. We argue that research must include holistic notions and critical discussions of agency for moving higher education practices and student agency literature forward.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)653-669
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • Higher education, outcomes, review, student agency, student learning

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