A student centered learning environment allows students to invest in their own learning and apply value to the knowledge and understanding they have gained through the learning experience. The student is encouraged to individualize their learning while being guided through opportunities that develop the critical thinking, reflective and problem-solving skills required to navigate the world around them.
I have attempted to apply student centered learning in many aspects of my CHCA classroom by incorporating learning activities within theory classes, utilizing case scenarios in lab and organizing community experiences related to course content. While implementing this instructional shift in my classroom, I realize that the article omits #11. The student may require guidance to learn this new way of learning.
For instance, when I first began teaching I jumped right into giving students problems, projects and presentations but after the students realized they weren’t worth “marks”, I received very little buy in and ended back up at the front of the room lecturing.
What was I missing?
I realized that the students’ past institutional experiences had narrowed their perception of learning. I knew that it wasn’t that the students couldn’t learn in this way, I needed to change my approach. So instead of throwing them in at the deep end and expecting them to swim the very first day, I give them several “orientation days” of hanging out in the kiddie end of the pool. I do what is familiar and lecture, organize a million icebreakers, bait them with smaller problems, all while luring them deeper to where collaborative and active learning take place. I have found that while easing the transition to student centered learning has worked for my group, I have trouble maintaining it especially when the students’ motivation bottoms out mid-way through the term.