October 29, 2007

What is Learner-Centered Teaching?

Many faculty scoff at the phrase above, often exclaiming, "Isn't all teaching 'student-centered' or 'learner-centered'?" Well, not exactly. Here are some descriptors to help clarify the true intent of the term, learner-centered (or learning-centered) teaching:
  • providing choices for students in relation to where, how, and when they study,
  • fostering (focusing on) learning rather than teaching (incorporating active rather than passive learning),
  • encouraging student responsibility (and accountability) and activity rather than teacher control and content delivery,
  • developing mutuality and interdependence in the teacher-learner relationship, and
  • emphasizing context-specific learning in which students build their own new understandings and skills through engagement with authentic problems based on 'real world' experiences (emphasizing deep learning and understanding as opposed to simple "coverage").
Maryellen Weimer describes seven "Do" principles for teachers/faculty to begin their planning for learner-centered teaching:
  1. Teachers do learning tasks less (let the students do more)
  2. Teachers do less telling; students do more discovering
  3. Teachers do more (instructional) design work
  4. Faculty do more modeling (of the learning process -- for student benefit)
  5. Faculty do more to get students learning from and with each other (collaborative)
  6. Faculty work to create climates for learning (conditions conducive to learning)
  7. Faculty do more with feedback (formative 'along-the-way' and summative assessments; grades and comments)
For more information on learner-centered teaching:

Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice
by Maryellen Weimer (2002). Jossey-Bass. (A summary by Bill Peirce; available for check-out from the Center's Library)

Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
From The American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, March 1987

Mapping the Learning Space: Overview of the Territory
5 Learner-Centered Principles and Practices in Higher Ed: Design Implications, Learning Activities, Deeper Learning, Teaching Practices, and Technology Uses

International Institute on Student-centered Learning and Engagement
May 20-23, 2008 at Portland State University

Student-Centered Learning: What Does it Mean for Students and Lecturers?
O'Neill & McMahon, 2005

Briefly describe one of your "learner-centered teaching" activities or strategies . . . Click on the COMMENTS link below to get started!

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