Many phrases have been used to describe a critical shift in the mission and purpose of higher education. SCL is defined as “an Instruction Paradigm in which universities delivered instruction to transfer knowledge from faculty to students to a Learning Paradigm in which universities produce learning through student discovery and construction of knowledge”.
Huba and Freed (2000) used the phrase “Learning-Centered Assessment” to emphasize transition in the focus of instruction and assessment from teaching to learning. Student-Centered Learning is “an instructional approach in which students influence the content, activities, materials, and pace of learning. This learning model places the student (learner) in the center of the learning process. The instructor provides students with opportunities to learn independently and from one another and coaches them in the skills they need to do so effectively”.
The SCI approach includes such techniques as substituting active learning experiences for lectures, assigning open-ended problems and problems requiring critical or creative thinking that cannot be solved by following text examples, involving students in simulations and role-plays, and using self-paced and/or cooperative (team-based) learning. Properly implemented SCI can lead to increased motivation to learn, greater retention of knowledge, deeper understanding, and more positive attitudes towards the subject being taught (Collins & O’Brien, 2003).
Student-centered learning can also be viewed in organizing learning environments around four foci:
- assessment-centered, and
Knowledge-centered learning stresses learners developing their knowledge to facilitate the transfer of their learning to new contexts and application of their learning to open-ended challenges such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and design.
In a learner-centered learning environment, McCombs and Whistler (1997), “learners are treated as co-creators in the learning process, as individuals with ideas and issues that deserve attention and consideration.” Learner-centered learning environments recognize that the prior knowledge of learners powerfully influences future learning and thus attempt to build on prior knowledge.
Assessment-centered learning environments provide opportunities for feedback and improvement throughout the learning process leading to evaluation and judgment at the end of the learning process. Assessment for feedback and improvement is referred to as formative assessment while assessment for conclusive evaluation and judgment is referred to as summative assessment. Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) indicate that formative assessment can promote the development of capacities and attitudes used in lifelong learning. Assessment-centered learning environments also emphasize congruence between learning goals and what is assessed (National Research Council, 1999).
Finally, community-centered environments recognize that individual learners take many cues and insights from learners around them so that community-centered learning environments facilitate purposeful interactions among learners to promote and sustain learning. For this essay, learning environments are student-centered to the degree to which they are concurrently knowledge-centered, learner- centered, assessment-centered, and community-centered.
Many different faculty members have developed and used approaches to teaching that fit the criteria for student-centered learning. Many of these developers have created original names for their approaches. As a result, there is a broad spectrum of named approaches, which include
- Active Learning
- Collaborative Learning
- Inquiry Based Learning
- Cooperative Learning
- Problem Based Learning
- Peer led Team Learning
- Team Based Learning
- Peer Instructions
- Inquiry Guided Learning
- Small Group Learning
- Project-based Learning
- Question-directed Instruction.
Faculty members often have many questions about student-centered learning approaches and implications for how they might teach. They are required to be trained on the approach and provided with the answer to all queries. At the same time, there is an urgent need to switch over from Teacher-Centered Learning to Student-Centered Learning.