Thoughts on Student-Centered Learning

Some ideas to consider.

Student-centered teaching is a philosophy of teaching originally shared by Dr. Carl Rogers in his book entitled Freedom to Learn (1969). Aspects of this philosophy were also put forth even earlier by other famous educators including John Dewey and Maria Montessori.

You can see a brief Prezi presentation on Rogers’ ideas by clicking on:

Briefly, Rogers believed that the most important aspect of effective teaching was the development of trust between the teacher and the student. Trust could be built when the teacher demonstrated empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness towards her or his students.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Medical Education (Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5: 157–164)  entitled “The evaluation of student-centredness (sic) of teaching and learning: a new mixed-methods approach” by Ana R. Lemos,John E. Sandars,Palmira Alves, and Manuel J. Costa. (See focused upon the  development and consideration of  the usefulness of a new mixed-methods approach to evaluate the student-centredness of teaching and learning on undergraduate medical courses.

The authors describe the the Bologna Process in Europe, which states “student-centred learning (SCL) is an approach to education, which aims at overcoming some of the problems inherent to more traditional forms of education by focusing on the learner and their needs, rather than being centred around the teacher’s input.”

Simply put, the philosophy of student-centered teaching suggests that the teacher be a “guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage”. I further distinguish the student-centered approach to teaching by suggesting that there is a significant difference between presenting information to students and assisting students to learn. Student-centered teaching focuses on the students taking responsibility for their own learning with the teacher serving as a facilitator of learning.

Consider reflecting upon your teaching as related to these concepts of student-centeredness. Remember, we can give a dynamic lecture and present information to a wall, but is there any learning taking place?

For further information about student-centered learning, feel free to contact me. As well, feel free to share any comments about this e-mail posting.

Let me know how I can assist you in improving the quality of your teaching, and student learning.

Thanks for reading this.

Jim O’Connor