STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING: HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT?
The traditional student-teacher dynamic is often teacher-driven. The teacher sets the goals, expectations, and topics to cover for the students, and the teaching occurs within this framework. This approach can be useful in a classroom setting, as it allows the teacher to uniformly maintain structure and best support the entire group.
Working with students on an individual level is quite different and can require a modified approach to supporting students. Furthermore, there is an argument to be made that when it comes to their own learning, students should be the driving force. This argument is at the core of the student-centered learning approach.
To ensure that learning is student-centered, the educator must re-conceptualize the working dynamic as collaborative rather than directive. The student should be expected to have input to the why, what, and how of their academic progress.
The “why” is about identifying with the student the purpose of what they are working on. How are math, reading and writing, history and any other subject relevant to the student’s life? The educator must encourage the student to find the meaning behind what they are studying. The ’why’ creates a foundation for the collaborative effort between educator and student.
The “what” is about determining what content the student needs to work on, essentially coming down to goal setting. The learning goals should be determined BY the student with the help of their educator, rather than BY the educator. It will be clear that work needs to be done on math or reading and writing, but what will be used to address these learning needs should be determined by the student’s interests and passions. If students are driving their own learning, they are more likely to be engaged with the content and are more likely to learn.
Finally, the “how” relates to how a student’s progress will be measured and tracked. In a collaborative way, the educator and student should determine together when and how a student will be evaluated. Here, the student better understands expectations and can, with the help of the educator, modify timeframes and goals as they move forward.
In its truest form, student-centered learning is a team effort that also allows students to become active participants rather than passengers on their learning journey. In this environment, students are much more likely to become autonomous learners and to believe in their OWN abilities.
Student-centered learning does not eliminate the role of the teacher. Rather, it creates a dynamic where a teacher and student work TOGETHER to achieve the student’s goals and promote learning. The more that a student is given opportunities to take charge, the more they will believe that they can take charge, and the more that they will do so.