Student-centered learning is an approach to modern classroom interactions that revolves around the idea of leading the educational courses with learner’s desires and interests as the main controlling factor. The idea of student-centred learning is not based on a fixed outline of academic practices; rather it is an amalgamation of various learning and teaching strategies that aim at formulating such an academic setup which meets the needs and individual demands of everyone. Some of the key factors to look for in order to determine the extent of difference in learners’ personal needs and desires in a unified class may include:
- Cultural backgrounds of the learners
- Social backgrounds of learners
- Age group to which the learners belong
- Their future aspirations
- Prior educational level and proficiency of the learners
History and background of the student-centered model of learning
In the early years of the 20th century, American educators initiated a discussion about two different forms of learning namely the student-centred and the teacher-centered. This led almost all the professionals in the educational sector at that time to explore more about the role of both these models in the development of students’ capabilities. Despite its obvious advantages over the conventional classroom interactional models, Student-centered learning has not to be appreciated and adapted enough much till date. The ignorance of such a strong system of learning and teaching can be alluded to the fuzziness and confusion in its perfect definition and to the fact that this model needs to adapt differently in each kind of classroom.
However, the dawn of the new decade is expected to bring more attention to such a useful and comprehensive model of learning with all its flexibility. This acceptance towards the model is especially because of the educationists who have been striving really hard since the past few years to formulate a fixed definition as well as to describe all the aspects that are communal to the student-centered learning in every setting.
How is a student-centered classroom interaction set?
The student-centered approach aims at digging in the interests and passions of the learners rather than following the socially accepted models of teaching. Based on the learners’ personal motives and preferences, the teacher following this model devices methodologies and tactics to teach the learners in a way that bring the most out of them. A simple motto behind student-centered concept of education is that it is always the desire of an individual that drives his or her motivation. Student-centered learning requires that a teacher tap and try his hardest to find the exact interests of the students. Once found, the teacher must try to formulate the course’s content and other activities based entirely on the implicit guidelines derived from his knowledge of what students want and prefer.
Even when this approach to education is based on students, it is impossible to imagine its existence without a teacher willing to initiate a kind of classroom where each student does activities and tasks in his or her own way. A teacher, after looking at the interests and goals of the individual students, plans the activities and course contents that are flexible enough to be moulded into whatever the learners like. These planned activities are implemented in a classroom where the teacher does not follow the traditional approach of “do as I instruct”. Rather, the teacher openly allows the students to mould and implement their altered plan of action into learning which can be more practical and hands-on rather than being entirely theoretical.
The students are thus provided with enough opportunities to learn the content in their personal preferred ways which surely motivates them to strive more for perfection in understanding and implementing the knowledge they are being presented with.
Fundamental characteristics of student-centered learning
As described above, student-centered learning is not a typical model that can be applied to every class as it is. Rather, there are some necessary changes and customizations that an instructor has to bring about in order to suit this model to the purposes of the classroom and the level of the learners. However, the generic guidelines and the concepts that form the backbone of this model always stay the same regardless of where it is being implemented. These general characteristics of the student-centered learning approach are as follows:
- Student-centered classroom interactions put equal focus on every individual and try to extend a personalized approach towards the need of each individual.
- Because it allows the student to actively participate in the learning process, the student-centered approach allows the learners to be more proficient as compared to those who gain similar knowledge in conventional environments.
- Most of the flexibility in a student-centered classroom is provided to the students in their assignments, assessments, and in home-tasks so that they may become independent learners on the later stages of learning.
These and many other generic characteristics of student-centered approach are what allow for better learning and thus promise a brighter future for all the learners being taught under such modernized settings.