Under this model, the emphasis shifts from traditional teacher-directed methods to actively engaging learners in their educational journey.
Learner-centered approaches recognize the uniqueness of each student, developing learning experiences with the learner’s needs, preferences, and abilities in mind.
Characteristics of Learner-Centered Teaching
Importantly, this teaching method contemplates certain peculiarities and differences from the more common teaching methods.
For instance, teacher-centered approaches follow behavioral concepts and apply them to learning. Therefore, teachers become experts who guide students and share knowledge with them. Notably, students there appear as empty vessels that are to be filled with knowledge.
However, within the learner centered methods, the roles are slightly different, bringing more freedom and autonomy to the student.
Here are some characteristics of learner centered teaching:
- Personalization. Teachers tailor learning experiences to students’ needs and goals to make learning more effective, relevant, and to the point.
- Active participation and accountability. Teachers encourage and provide learner-centered instruction to learners to actively solve tasks, produce solutions to problems, and develop thoughts.
- Collaboration. Besides, teachers seek to foster collaborative learning environments, so that students can express their needs and integrate their experience in the solutions.
- Flexibility. Other than that, due to all students being different, the learner-centered approach requires instructors to adapt to diverse learning styles and paces.
- Self-Reflection: Teachers also push learners for more reflection, so that they can see the issues and find a mechanism to tackle them in the future.
Sure, under a learner-centered approach, teaching follows certain principles. The integration of them allows for shifting from a traditional classroom to one where students’ needs are put first.
What are the principles, then?
- Respect for diversity (to value student experience and needs)
- Space for autonomy (to improve accountability)
- Continuous assessment (to navigate the learning experience)
- Extensive feedback (to support growth)
- Inclusive environment (to add to collaboration)
Note. The benefits of a learner-centered classroom are increased motivation, enhanced critical thinking, long-term retention, preparation for real-world challenges, and promotion of lifelong learning.
Learner Centered Approach Examples and Activities
Interestingly, learner-centered education solutions can find application in diverse settings, from traditional classrooms to corporate training. Let’s consider some of the effective student-centered activities:
Before all, problem-based scenarios are a great way to shift the focus to students. Teachers would need to inform a student about a real-world problem or a related scenario and provide instruction on analysis. Next, the student will need to apply critical thinking and acquired knowledge.
Also, such scenarios offer enough space for collaboration and discussion. fostering teamwork and communication skills. They are great for module projects, exam questions, or even management courses within the corporate entity.
Further reading: Benefits of peer learning
Group projects and discussions in cohorts
Group projects and working in cohorts are a more common activity that fosters collaborative dialogue and adds to the understanding of any topic. By developing conversation and reflecting on the topic, students are likely to know more about it and will want to continue their learning.
Interactive games and simulations
Games and simulations are another activity you may integrate while using a learner centered method. Games can be a great way to improve engagement and invite students to the topic.
Yet, simulation is a more advanced example that suits corporate and business learning. Its main advantage is that it offers a risk-free environment for applying acquired knowledge or theoretical concepts.
Another popular option refers to a brainstorming session. It works great for marketing, design, or corporate training, where learners gather and communicate to explore new ideas and solutions.
Lastly, another option related to problem-solving learning is a case study. Used in leadership training and corporate training, it presents authentic or hypothetical situations. Within this activity, a student applies knowledge based on the context and later can apply the same skills in the line of work.
Further reading: 8 Best Collaborative Learning Strategies
How to Create a Learner-Centered Classroom Online
If you want to modify your existing learning environment or create a new one, here are certain steps that you should focus on:
Step#1. Understand student needs
To create an appropriate environment that would add to the learning, you should first identify student’s skills, abilities, and experiences. Based on that, you will be able to define needs and define the best learning styles, preferences, and motivations.
Step#2. Develop a flexible curriculum
After discovering the learning needs, think about the program, curriculum, and content. It should be flexible enough to adapt teaching methods to cater to diverse learning styles. There, do not forget about interactive tools and learning platforms that will ensure online collaboration.
Further reading: Tools for Collaboration
Step#3. Encourage active participation
Once you set up a system, it is important to encourage the students to actively participate from the first lesson. Thus, promote and implement discussions, group activities, and hands-on experiences.
Step#4. Provide timely feedback
Also, it is important to provide constructive feedback to guide continuous improvement. It will add to the reflection and motivation of the students. Yet, remember learner centered instruction should show students how to apply skills and knowledge in the future.
Step#5. Cultivate a supportive environment
Lastly, to ensure collaborative learning and better interaction between students, you should create a supportive enrichment. There, try to foster a culture of respect, collaboration, and inclusivity.