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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Student-centered learning (also called child-centered learning) is an approach to education focusing on the needs of the students, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators. This approach has many implications for the design of curriculum, course content, and interactivity of courses.

For instance, a student-centered course may address the needs of a particular student audience to learn how to solve some job-related problems using some aspects of mathematics. In contrast, a course focused on learning mathematics might choose areas of mathematics to cover and methods of teaching which would be considered irrelevant by the student.

Student-centered learning, that is, putting students first, is in stark contrast to existing establishment/teacher-centred lecturing and careerism. Student-centered learning is focused on the student's needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. This classroom teaching method acknowledges student voice as central to the learning experience for every learner. Teacher-centered learning has the teacher at its centre in an active role and students in a passive, receptive role. Student-centered learning requires students to be active, responsible participants in their own learning.

Contents

Background

Traditionally, teachers were at the centre of learning with students assuming a receptive role in their education. With research showing how people learn, traditional curriculum approaches to instruction where teachers were at the centre gave way to new ways of teaching and learning. Key amongst these changes is the idea that students actively construct their own learning (known as constructivism). Theorists like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky whose collective work focused on how students learn is primarily responsible for the move to student-centered learning. Carl Rogers' ideas about the formation of the individual also contributed to student-centered learning. Student centered-learning means reversing the traditional teacher-centered understanding of the learning process and putting students at the centre of the learning process.

What student-centered learning is not

In teacher-directed instruction:

  • Students work to meet the objectives set by the teacher
  • Students complete activities designed by the teacher to achieve goals determined by the teacher
  • Students respond to directions and step by step instruction from the teacher as they progress through activities
  • Students are given extrinsic motivators like grades and rewards as a means of motivating them to complete work
  • Students work in groups determined by the teacher-the teacher is in control of group membership
  • Student work is evaluated solely by the teacher

Many public schools in the United States "claim" to use a student-centered approach to learning, however, they continue to fail to understand the concept. US public schools continue to require that students meet objectives set by the state, they continue to require that students complete teacher designed activities and achieve state determined goals, they continue to require that students respond to directions and step by step instruction from the teacher, they continue to motivate students with grades and rewards, they continue to use teacher control in groups, and student work is solely evaluated by the teacher. Many people believe that due to the No Child Left Behind Act, student-centered learning has greatly diminished in the United States.

Implementation considerations

To implement a student-centered learning environment, attention must be given to the following aspects of learning:

  • The goal of student activity
  • The role of the teacher
  • Student's motivational orientation
  • Assessment
  • Student interaction

Because much of the power resides with students, teachers must realize that they are collaborators in learning. This is a role teachers must be comfortable with if they are to successfully implement a student-centred learning environment. A successful student-centered learning environment will be open, dynamic, trusting, respectful, and promoting the natural desire and curiosity to learn. Students will collaborate on meaningful, authentic problems which serve to further their understandings of the subject matter and themselves. This experiential learning involves the whole person -- their feelings, thinking, goals, social skills, and intuition. The result is a person who is empowered to be a lifelong learner; a student who embraces their own abilities and is accepting of others.

Assessment of student-centered learning

One of the most critical differences between student-centered learning and teacher-centred learning is in assessment. In student-centered learning, students participate in the evaluation of their learning. This means that students are involved in deciding how to demonstrate their learning. Developing assessment that support learning and motivation is essential to the success of student-centered approaches. One of the main reasons teachers resist student-centered learning is the view of assessment as problematic in practice. Since teacher-assigned grades are so tightly woven into the fabric of schools, expected by students, parents and administrators alike, allowing students to participate in assessment is somewhat contentious.

See also

External resources

References

  • Estes, Cheryl. (2004). Promoting Student-Centered Learning in Experiential Education. Journal of Experiential Education, 27(2), pp. 141-161.
  • Iyoshi, Toru, Hannafin, Micaheal & Wang, Feng. (2005). Cognitive Tools and Student-centred Learning: Rethinking Tools,Functions and Applications. Educational Media International, 42(4), pp. 281-296.
  • Motschnig-Pitrik, R. & Holzinger, A. (2002). Student-Centered Teaching Meets New Media: Concept and Case Study. Educational Technology & Society, 5(4), pp. 160-172. Available online at http://www.pri.univie.ac.at/Publications/2002/Motschnig_IEEE20002_Student_Centered_Teaching.pdf
  • Pedersen, Susan & Williams, Doug. (2004). A Comparison of Assessment Practices and Their Effects on Learning and Motivation in a Student-Centered Learning Environment. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 13(3), pp. 283-307.
  • Pedersen, Susan & Liu, Min. (2003). Teachers' Beliefs About Issues in the implementation of a Student-Centered Learning Environment. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 51(2), pp. 57-74.
  • SoundOut for Student Involvement
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