Student-centred Learning - Student-centered Learning

Student-centered Learning

Student-centered does not mean student-directed choosing or catering to whatever the students wish to learn or do. Too often student-centered learning is interpreted to mean that students should choose the topics, methods, and activities. Student-centered learning is merely supposed to put the student at the center of the learning (such as inquiry-based pedagogies) as opposed to putting the teacher at the center of the activity (such as lecture-based pedagogies). John Dewey expects the teacher to actively design and facilitate activities that lead to meaningful experience, but experiences that put the student at the center of the activity and learning. As he writes about aims in learning, “n aim implies an orderly and ordered activity.” The teacher is not expected to abdicate responsibility for instructional design nor the imposition of certain expertise. Weimer (2002) as cited in Barraket (2005) noted that in order to move from traditional teaching to a more student-centered approach, five changes need to occur:

  • “Shifting the balance of classroom power from teacher to student
  • designing content as a means to building knowledge rather than a ‘knowledge end’ in itself
  • positioning the teacher as facilitator and contributor, rather than director and source of knowledge
  • shifting responsibility for learning from teacher to learner; and
  • promoting learning through effective assessment.”

The teachers role is to facilitate learning by enabling the student to make further inquiries, make connections with their experience, take control of their learning and make real world applications (Freestone, 2012). Kraft (1978) states that individuals learn through experience, not by being told and the teacher’s role to confirm what the student is learning.

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

  • What the child is curious about learning
  • Teaching strategies to accommodate individual needs: intellectual,emotional
  • Student's social needs: collaboration, communication, peer approval
  • Curriculum goals overall

Because the focus is on individual students rather than whole class structures, teachers often offer choices and adaptations within lessons, which empowers student growth. This is a role teachers must be comfortable with if they are to implement a student-centred learning environment. To be considered a student-centered learning environment it has to be open, dynamic, trusting, respectful, and promote children's subjective as well as objective learning styles. Students may collaborate in hands-on problems and draw their own conclusions, or develop their oen learning based on self-direction. This experiential learning involves the whole child—their emotions, thoughts, social skills, and intuition. The result of student-centred learning is a person who arguably develops self-confident and critical thinking. Student-centered learning involves a greater commitment from the instructor because they have to assess what the student knows and how they are going to use activities to build their knowledge in order to meet course objectives (Sample, 2009).

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