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Center for Teaching and Learning

CTL Arenas - Student Voices

Student Voice @ Chabot = Involving students in shaping the educational processes
that are designed to shape their knowledge and character.

Listening to the Room

In this film, we are introduced to Student Voices from all over California. The film illustrates the great opportunity Student Voices offers for opening a new window into the classroom. The film opens with students expressing the kind of shyness and reticence one might expect when they are first interviewed, but as trust is gained, students open up. They offer both criticism and praise about their educational experiences. The movie then turns to another important aspect of Student Voices: students BEHIND the camera, controlling the interview, guiding the research. Listening to the Room is a lively primer for anyone interested in leveraging Student Voices in the service of Professional Development.

Inquiring Minds:  Faculty Inquiry in Basic Skills Contexts

This 15 minute film offers an introduction to the iterative steps that underlie effective Faculty Inquiry.  The film lays out four steps: 

1. What Do We See? 
2. How Can We See It Better? 
3. How Can We Share It With Others? 
4. Now That We See It, What Can We Do About It? 

The Written Works

The Written Works is a two-tiered documentary/tale of one student’s journey into the world of writing. Trying to find its value, she uncovers different ways writing can be used in the larger world, while questioning the ways it has been used in the academy. Discovering much about herself and these academic institutions, she steps into this world and gets more than she bargained for. Will the whole endeavor overtake her or will her new-found self  become the writer she was meant to be all along?

Reading Between the Lives

A long, long time ago, in a college about a quarter mile off Interstate 880…four students and a teacher, fueled by a SPECC grant, set out on an epic quest to ask the questions no one dared to ask about reading. Facing over 125 daunting student intake essays, 50 hours of intensive interviews, and trudging through 300 hours of post-production they emerged with a victorious 60-minute movie and restored freedom in the collegiate galaxy.

As a result of this dive into students' mystification with college-level reading, Chabot faculty began using techniques learned from WestEd's Reading Apprenticeship program in their classes:

Daraja:  A Syllabus for Life

The Daraja project, founded in 1988 at Chabot College is widely recognized as one of the best opportunities for success for underrepresented students, especially African-American students, in the California community-college system. In this film, current and former Daraja students speak candidly about their educational preparation before entering Daraja and then share their personal needs and professional goals. Daraja staff and faculty also offer their perspectives about the “family” that is created over the course of a school year. Daraja: A Syllabus For Life is a rich, engaging portrayal of a program that changes lives. For Educators and students who have never experienced this kind of program, the film offers an intimate lens into what it would be like to have an Umoja community on their campus.

Door Number One

Door Number One offers introductory profiles of a dozen of the many Programs and Services offered at Chabot College. Students, Staff, and Faculty share their experiences and offer their perspectives about why these Programs and Services are so vital, and what students can expect if they just “Pick One.” And along the way, we see what it takes to successfully repel a Zombie Student Attack on Chabot College!

Going the Distance

In Going The Distance, Chabot College students and faculty share their experiences in taking — and teaching — Distance Education courses. They speak candidly and with insight about: “How the availability of DE courses plays a crucial role in their college matriculation” “What it takes to succeed in the online setting” “How the workload compares with more traditional classroom settings” “How student interactions compare with traditional classroom settings” “What it is like to interact with a teacher in the online environment” and more! Edited in a visual style inspired by the world of technology, Going The Distance offers an engaging, fresh discussion of the promise and challenges of Distance Education.

The World in Your Hands

Welcome to an orientation film for the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) at Chabot College. Take a walk with us and explore the experiences of five students and a counselor, and learn how DSPS helped them reach their educational goals. 

Releasing the Trap

Releasing The Trap begins by traveling back 40 years into California’s educational history to tell the tale of how the state’s education system--once the envy of the nation--slid to the bottom in most educational indicators.

The movie then turns to California's community colleges to outline how over the decades a whole web of pre-transfer (now called basic skills) courses were created across the system. These pre-transfer courses created unintended consequences, including contributing to drop out rates and lengthening time-to-transfer for many community college students. The movie looks at the institutional inertia around pre-transfer curriculum that often results in “ossification” and “accretion” of courses, making it more difficult for educators to create change.

The movie concludes by outlining some of the features of the educational initiative called Acceleration In Context. AIC is gaining widespread traction around the state of California as a promising response to these challenges in Basic Skills education.

By demystifying the choices community college institutions have made over the years, Releasing The Trap hopes to offer encouragement to faculty and administrators to design curriculum and pedagogy with an eye towards “the ever arriving future.”

Outside of the Box

Take a tour outside of the "Box of Academia" as students talk about their experience in a Social Justice driven course at Chabot College.

Moving From the Front of the Room

In this short (13 minute) film, “Moving From the Front of the Room,” community college students talk about that person who stands up in front of the room during every class–the teacher. Students speak candidly about:

  • exciting vs. boring teachers
  • teachers’ moods in the classroom
  • stories and jokes
  • passion and teaching
  • love and community

Tuning the Voice

In the Fall semester of 2011, 8 brand new incoming freshman students at Chabot College were randomly selected to be followed, observed, and interviewed over the course of the semester. The goal was to uncover the hurdles students face and the strategies they adopt for success. The 8 were also given Flip-style cameras so that they could also film their personal lives.

A student team of videographers from Chabot College shaped and created the documentary. The access they gained to the 8, and the trust they built, helped reveal stories that are dramatic as any feature film.

Faculty development activities based on Tuning the Voice


Student Voice Resources

Mihans, R., Long, D., & Felten, P., "Power and Expertise:  Student-Faculty Collaboration in Course Design and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning", International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 2, N. 2, (July 2008),

Bueschel, A.C. (2008) “Listening to Students about Learning.” Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC). Stanford, Calif.: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (2008) Basic Skills for Complex Lives: Designs for Learning in the Community College. A Report from Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC). Stanford, Calif.: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

College Board. (2011). The educational experience of young men of color: Capturing the student voice. Retrieved from

Cook-Sather, A. (2011) “Layered learning: student consultants deepening classroom and life lessons”, Educational Action Research, 19(1), pp. 41-57

Groundwater-Smith, S. and Downes, T. (1999). Students: From Informants to Co-Researchers, refereed paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference. Retrieved from

Mihans, R., Long, D., & Felten, P. (2008) “Power and Expertise: Student-Faculty Collaboration in Course Design and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(2).

Partridge, L. and Sandover, S. (2010). “Beyond ‘Listening’ to the Student Voice: The Undergraduate Researcher’s Contribution to the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning”. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 7(2). Available at:

Sorenson, L. (1994). “Valuing the Student Voice: Student Observer/Consultant Programs.” In To Improve the Academy, Vol 13. POD Network.

Cook-Sather, A. (2010) "Students as Learners and Teachers: Taking Responsibility, Transforming Education, and Redefining Accountability," Curriculum Inquiry, 40(4), pp. 555-575.

Fielding, M. (2004). “Transformative approaches to student voice: theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities.” British Educational Research Journal. 30(2), pp 295-311. Retrieved from

Fielding, M. and McGregor, J. (2005). Deconstructing student voice: new spaces for dialogue or new opportunities for surveillance? Paper presented to the Symposium: Speaking up and speaking out: International perspectives on the democratic possibilities of student voice; American Educational Research Association. Retrieved from

Czerniawski, G. and Kidd, W. (eds.). (2011) The Student Voice Handbook: Bridging the Adacemic/Practitioner Divide. UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Seale, J. (2010) “Doing student voice work in higher education: an exploration of the value of participatory methods.” British Educational Research Journal, 36(6), pp. 995-1015.

Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education,

Werder, C. and Otis, M. (eds.). (2009) Engaging Student Voices in the Study of Teaching and Learning. USA: Stylus Publishers.

McFarland, S. (2009a) “Student Voices – as Objects of Inquiry,”—-as-objects-of-inquiry/

McFarland, S. (2009b) “Student Voices – As Co-Inquirers”,—as-co-inquirers/

McFarland, S. (2009c) “Putting Together Student Teams,”

McFarland, S. (2009d) “Getting Started Filming”,


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