Conceptualising student participation in school decision making: an integrative model

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The study of student participation in decision making has been characterised by conceptual vagueness and an absence of empirical tools to compare participatory practices in various contexts and to determine when they achieve their goals. This study presents an integrative theoretical model grounded in the organisational literature on participative decision making (PDM)–particularly on teacher participative decision making–as well as in the children’s participation literature. The model focuses on decisions having collective implications made by a group of students or a group of students and adults. It views student participative decision making as a multidimensional structure that emerges within a context. Specifically, the model suggests that the rationales behind promoting student participative decision making (pragmatic, moral, or developmental/pedagogical) will determine its dimensions, which, in turn, will affect student, teacher and school outcomes. It posits that the school organisational culture will shape the patterns of these relationships. The model answers repeated calls in the children’s participation literature for frameworks that are more attentive to diverse cultural environments. It provides an empirical foundation for comparative studies to explore how student participative decision making is interpreted, perceived and implemented in different organisational cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-1223
Number of pages22
JournalEducational Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Educational Review.


  • Student participation
  • decision making
  • organizational culture
  • participative management
  • students' voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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