The Core Commitments Student-Centered Learning
Definition of Student-Centered Learning

Kember (1997): A learning environment in which knowledge is constructed by students and the teacher is a facilitator of learning rather than (merely) the presenter of information.

Rogers (1983) identified the important precondition for student-centred learning as the need for: "... a leader or person who is perceived as an authority figure in the situation, is sufficiently secure within herself (himself) and in her (his) relationship to others that she (he) experiences an essential trust in the capacity of others to think for themselves, to learn for themselves."

Attributes of Student-Centered Learning

1.Reliance on active rather than passive learning
2.Emphasis on deep learning and understanding
3.Increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student
4.Increased sense of autonomy in the learner
5.Interdependence between teacher and learner
6.Mutual respect within the learner-teacher relationship
7.Reflexive approach to the teaching and learning process on the part of both teacher and learner

Little Learners, Big Ideas Series

When we think of helping young children become innovators, we often imagine them exploring, investigating, and creating. We envision them designing buildings, exploring bubbling science experiments, or writing the next great novel. We know our little learners are full of BIG ideas, but we also know they cannot do it alone. As educators and parents, how do we help our children become the next great innovator? The truth is the foundation for great thinking starts long before a child steps foot inside a school. The first years of a child’s life are a magical time full of curiosity and wonder. It can be a daunting task for parents and teachers to think about how to harness all of that wonder and turn it into an opportunity for learning. 


Wonder and Curiosity:

Little Learners and Literacy:

Learning on the Go:

Growing Young Minds:

An Environment for Learning:

A Thinker’s Toolbox:

 Here is a playlist with all 6 videos:

Examples of Student-Centered Assessments

  • Portfolios
  • Projects
  • Diaries, logs & journals
  • Group work
  • Peer/self Assessment
  • Profiles
  • Learning contracts
  • Skills and competencies

Student-Centered Learning Resources

Active Learning

Citing Meyers and Jones (1993), McKinney points out that active learning "derives from two basic assumptions: (1) that learning is by nature an active endeavor and (2) that different people learn in different ways." Includes a brief overview of different active learning strategies.

Bonwell and Eison define active learning as "instructional activities involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing." A simple Q&A format addresses issues of how to create more "active" classroom spaces and what barriers teachers should be aware of.

(Richard Felder & Rebecca Brent) Offers suggestions for dealing with resistance from students as teachers attempt to move their classes from spaces where students only "receive" knowledge to spaces where students are co-creators of knowledge.

Motivating and Engaging Students

Farmer-Dougan and McKinney define engagement, report on empirical evidence at ISU, and conclude that class format, grade satisfaction, task identity, computer use, and peer relationships have significant impact on student engagement.

The authors report that faculty tend to share an intuitive definition of student engagement, and they note that faculty "may incorrectly assess the relationship among race and ethnicity, social class, gender and student engagement."

Several brief suggestions for making students more active and engaged participants in their own education, including connecting class topics with students' lives, offering students choices in their learning, as well as using writing and various technologies.

Collaborative/Cooperative Learning

Panitz distinguishes between collaborative learning (which he refers to as a "personal philosophy" that involves the "sharing of authority") and cooperative learning (which he defines as a "set of processes" designed to assist learners in accomplishing a particular task).

Defines cooperative learning as "the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning."

McKinney offers teachers a series of heuristic questions to help guide them in making up-front decisions that will affect the outcomes of their forays into cooperative/collaborative pedagogies.

This site covers several aspects of groups working together, including how to establish effective groups.

The collaborative classroom is a space of shared knowledge and shared authority. The authors explain the roles that teachers and students can play in collaborative learning.

Working in a group can be a challenge. Make the most of your group learning experience and learn ways to deal with conflict or avoid it altogether.

Collaborative/Cooperative Learning

Explains the basics of problem-based learning, defined here as "an instructional strategy in which students confront contextualized, ill-structured problems and strive to find meaningful solutions."

A useful site which includes information on how to structure micro- and macro-level PBL.

This e-paper "describe[s] a structured approach to inquiry-based learning that uses the World Wide Web as a primary information resource. Specifically, we address an intuitive 8-step process that begins with an essential question and ends with a knowledge product produced by students, typically completed in a cooperative setting."