Reflections on Ownership

own·​er·​ship | \ ˈō-nər-ˌship  \ noun – the state, relation, or fact of being an owner

With the COVA and CSLE approach, all of the elements must be present for meaningful learning to occur. For students to have ownership of their learning, they need to be engaged in authentic learning opportunities. The current traditional model of instruction very ofter requires teachers to provide very specific content to students with very tight time constraints in order to prepare students for an assessment. If students have little choice in the material they are to learn, and if it is not grounded in authentic opportunities, then they do not own the learning. Therefore, for true ownership of the learning to occur, the teacher needs to step back a bit, and relinquish control while students work to solve authentic problems.

Dr. Thibedeaux stated in her Learner’s Mindset post that, “Constructivists, like Jonassen (1999), argue that ownership of the problem is key to learning because it increases learner engagement and motivation to seek out solutions.”

“Ownership of learning is all about building the adaptability, confidence, character, grit, and a growth and learners mindset that is required for our learners to address the problems and challenges of the complex world in which we live.”


Ownership of learning and authentic learning opportunities present themselves organically in real life parenting situations. However, I believe it can be more challenging for teachers to guide students to these authentic learning opportunities that build in ownership. It can feel like a departure from our current instructional practices to reliqush control. Creating that sort of significant learning environment is challenging, but not impossible.

In the COVA book, Dr. Harapnuik relates a story of his son taking on an extra responsibility of house-sitting. It was difficult for him step back, observe his child struggle with the extra responsibility, and allow him to come to conclusions on his own. That is the nature of parenting, relinquishing control and understanding that is the only way for the child to grow. I can completely identify with this situation, as think of a multitude of similar examples from my own parenting experiences.

The challenge now for teachers is to find ways to connect authentic learning opportunities to the standards, goals, and content that they are tasked with addressing. An additional layer of the challenge is for teachers to be able to give students the time they need to invest in the authentic learning projects. Students need time to formulate their ideas for the project or problem, time to research, and time to create their presentation product or some evidence of learning.

In this EDLD 5303 course, Applying Educational Technology Portfolio, we were given the space and time we needed to create our ePortfolios, collaborate with peers in groups of our choice and formulate thoughtful discussion and blog posts associated with the ideas around ePortfolios and the COVA approach.

The life lessons learned through taking full ownership of a learning opportunity cannot be matched by any form of direct instruction or teacher-controlled experience.

Harapnuik & ThibodeauX

In his YouTube video, John Spencer describes the need to find ways for students to own their learning.

Barbara Bray outlines the Development of Ownership in her book and blog post.

AJ Juliani shares some phenomonal first-hand accounts of empowering students with ownership in this blog post and with the Epic Guide to Student Ownership.


7 Things That Happen When Students Own Their Learning. (2017)

Juliani, A. (2018, October 15). The epic guide to student ownership. Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

Bray, B. (2018, February 10). Development of Ownership: From Compliance to Autonomy. Rethinking Learning.

Duckworth, S. (2018, September 9). Continuum of Ownership. Sylvia Duckworth.

Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux , T., & Cummings, C. (2018). Cova: Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning (Vol. .9). Creative Commons.

Thibodeaux, T. Learner’s Mindset….. Learners Mindset.

2 Comments on “Reflections on Ownership

  1. Pingback: COVA Reflection & Application | Holly D. Landez ePortfolio

  2. Pingback: Digital Learning and Leading Journey Synthesis | Holly D. Landez ePortfolio

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