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Student-Centered Learning: Giving Students a Say

Posted in Ed Tech 101 on August 20, 2014 by

Student-centered learning is an approach to education that focuses on the needs and interests of the student, as opposed to those of the teacher or administration. A typical classroom might feature a teacher standing in front of rows of desks, giving one lecture to a room full of students. A student-centered classroom would ideally have no “front” of the room. Students might work individually while the teacher walked around, guiding students as needed. Student-centered learning aims to make each student an active participant in her education — resulting in a learning experience that provides students with a sense of independence and a desire to learn more.

Student-centered learning is also sometimes called learner-centered teaching and child-centered learning.

Many people seem to believe that students, especially children and adolescents, lack the maturity and focus to have a say in their educations. They fear that, if given the choice, students will ignore schoolwork altogether, in favor of more “fun” activities. This might be true — if a student is taught from an early age that school is “work” and therefore “not fun.” When students are an active part of the learning experience and believe that what they’re learning is both important and exciting, they will be willing to put in the effort.

A common misconception about student-centered learning is that there is no structure: students simply do what they want all day, regardless of its educational value. In fact, student-centered learning simply means that the student is at the center of the learning process. This article provides a few good ideas on how to create a student-centered classroom, such as creating on-going projects, integrating technology, and even eliminating homework.

To learn more, check out our series on student-centered learning by guest blogger and educator Kaylie Reed:

Student-Centered Learning: How to Implement a Blended Learning Program
Student-Centered Learning: The Magic of Peer Mentoring
Student-Centered Learning: Creating a Culture of Accountability
Student-Centered Learning: Math in the Blended Learning Environment

The following concepts are closing related to student-centered learning:

Student agency
Collaborative learning
Differentiated instruction
Proficiency-based learning
Lifelong Learning