Student Centered Learning, Strategies and Resources
The characteristics of Student Centered Learning are described and discussed. Key words: Student centered learning, teachers for a new century.
Principles of Student-Centered Learning:Student Centered Learning is characterized as a model which focuses on both learners and the learning process (McCombs and Whisler, 1997; Weimer, 2002).
It comprises of twelve principles that they believe gives the student greater autonomy over their learning process, in terms of identifying their learning needs, finding resources and constructing their own knowledge. The twelve principles of student centered learning are discussed.
1. The Nature of the Learning Process:Learning is a natural, active, goal oriented process (McCombs & Whisler, 1997). Active learning is part of the student centered learning process that encourages students to formulate and solve problems, leading to a better and deeper understanding of the subject matter (Bonwell and Eison, 1991).
Strategies used in active learning include the use of the following:„« KWL-is a learning tool in which students write down what they know, what they want to know and what they have learned.
„« Think-pair-share-students think about a question or problem, pair up and then their thoughts.
„« Generating examples-students think about new concepts.
„« Concept mapping-students identify relationships between variables, principles and concepts.
„« Flowcharting-students use this approach to explain how things work or are related.
„« Predicting-students pre-determine what may happen in a particular situation.
„« Developing rebuttals-students develop and argue the pros and cons of any given topic or problem.
„« Constructing tables/graphs-students summarize information and present information in a systematic and logical manner.
„« Analogical thinking-students use cross-experience mapping to understand unfamiliar concepts.
„« Problem posing- students make up or pose problems about the real world and then exchange them with a class mate for solving.
„« Developing critiques-students show the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a particular situation.
„« Pair summarizing-students work in pairs. One summarizing the information presented and the other checking for errors.2. Goals of the Learning ProcessThe main goal of learning is to create meaningful connection between what is known and what is presented (McCombs & Whisler, 1997). Rote cognitive learning does not encourage and ensure deep understanding (Stiggins, 1997). The goals of the learning process are to produce learners who are co-constructors of their own knowledge (Doepner et al., 1997; Oldfather & West, 1999).
3. The Construction of Knowledge:Marzano (1988) argues that the construction of knowledge is based on pre-existing knowledge and the establishment of meaningful links between the past, and the present determines how knowledge is constructed (Ewell, 1997; McCombs & Whisler, 1997) and interpreted (Schurr, 1994).
4. Higher Order Thinking:McCombs and Whisler (1997) argue that overseeing, facilitating and developing expertise are necessary for creative, reflective and critical thinking. Students are empowered as individual self-directed learners making them the center of their learning activities. (Berliner & Benard, 1995). Students are able to think critically using creativity and reflectivity as the basis on which informed decisive decisions are made (Berliner & Benard, 1995).
5. Motivational Influences on Learning:The driving force behind the learning abilities of students is dependent on their beliefs, values and attitudes (McCombs & Whisler, 1997). The breadth and depth of learning is influenced by: (i) self-awareness, (ii) clarity and (iii) personal expectations. Woolfolk (2001) argues that motivation to learn can be explained in terms of four factors:(1) Behavioural-based on rewards and punishments.
(2) Humanistic-based on self esteem and self-fulfillment.
(3) Cognitive-based on expectations of success or failure.
(4) Sociocultural-based on cultural tolerance of individuals working in groups.It is postulated that when the student own identity and awareness coincides with that of his/her learning abilities then the student becomes a highly motivated life-long learner (McCombs, 1991; McCombs & Marzano, 1990).
6. Intrinsic Motivation to Learn:This refers to the internal factors that dominate understanding, curiosity and involvement that drive students to achieve their desired goals and objectives. Oldfather (1992) argues that individuals are naturally curious and enjoy learning. Creating conditions that help students find their passion and be able to connect their passion to their presence and purpose in school enhances internal motivation (Oldfather & West, 1999).
7. Characteristics of Motivation-Enhancing Learning Tasks or Problem Solving Behaviour:This type of learning encourages and facilitates the creation of explorers, innovators and thinkers. It fosters curiosity, creativity and high order thinking (Schurr, 1994) that results in divergent thinking by causing students to thrust in their own judgments (Woolfolk, 2001). Curiosity is often manifested as a skill that enables learners to make informed decisions and to question outcomes (Schurr, 1994).
8. Genetic and Environmental Limitations:Students learn at different rates as a function of their unique genetic and environmental make-up (Gardner, 1991). Students therefore go through different developmental stages such as physical, mental, social, psychological, spiritual, cultural and intellectual states at different times and different rates (Gardner, 1991). Mental maturity and clarity of purpose are key factors influencing students' learning and reasoning abilities.
9. Social and Cultural Diversity:Learning is influenced by a rich inter- and intrapersonal relationships in a medium of effective communication among all stakeholders; teachers and students, that relies on tolerance of others, things and conditions (Ross et al., 1993). Cooperative learning is an active learning strategy that encourages students to learn to work effectively in groups.
10. Social Acceptance, Self-esteem and Learning:To feel wanted and accepted by our families, groups, peers, teachers and by society provide invaluable feedback on our ideas, conclusions and judgments. This feedback refines our ability to think critically and creatively (Ross et al., 1993).
11. Individual Differences in Learning:This may explain the unique learning abilities between and among students. Environmental exposures through different cultural expression and social interactions together with genetics, ultimately determine the rate, breath and depth of learning in different students (Moffett and Wagner, 1992).
12. Affective Learning and its Influence on Knowledge Acquisition:Blythe and Associates (1998) argue that attitudes, beliefs and values influence the way in which students' understand, how they assimilate old experiences with new experiences through reflective learning and draw conclusions from those experiences, thus facilitating positive acquisition of knowledge and learning.
Student Centered Learning by Dr. Deryck D. Pattronin Education (submitted 2008-10-10)Abstract:
The objective of this paper is to present a systematic review on Student Centered Learning.
Teaching Helping Teacher
Conclusion:Student centred teaching comprises of three essential ingredients for learning; individualization, interaction and integration (Moffett and Wagner, 1992). Learning or the acquisition of pedagogical knowledge requires how the subject matter is understood by the student and how it is perceived as a requirement for effective understanding and teaching (Wiske, 1998; Woolfolk, 2001).
The use of more student centered activities such as internet projects would greatly benefit the student in becoming more self directed and reliant on the use of technology (Alonso, 1999). The use of technology has supported the student development theory by fostering independent self directed exploration and opportunity to learn cooperatively (Adams and Hamm, 1996; Alonso, 1999).
In student centered learning, class room management is an important concept, where more time is allocated for learning, more access to resources and the development of self management skills (Woolfolk, 2001). Students are given more interpretative assessments via the use of formative assessments rather than by the use summative assessments which are more cumulative and represent final and terminal exams.
Formative assessments encourage ongoing activity and enquiry and drives further instruction e.g. research projects, portfolio construction, collaborative learning, and learning contracts.
References:Adams, D., & Hamm, M. (1996). Cooperative learning--critical thinking and collaboration across the curriculum. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.Alonso, D. (1999). Forms of control and interaction as determinants of lecture effectiveness in the electronic classroom [On-line]. Available http://www.lap.umd.edu/LAPFolder/Papers/dianesthesis/page1.html [March 25, 2001]
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About the Author
Dr. Pattron is a Public Health Scientist and Consultant.