For years, the focus has been on a teacher-centered model of education. This traditional learning system involves students exclusively listening to instructors. Typically, teachers direct all classroom activities and there is limited scope for feedback and conversations. It fosters a culture of dependency, therefore, limiting the learning process.
However, in recent years, a learner-centered model has gained prominence. Thanks to rapid globalization and digitization, this new pedagogical approach is changing the way learners acquire and apply knowledge. An active learning pedagogy not only teaches learners how to perform well at school but also prepares them for a globalized work environment.
Read on to see what is a learner-oriented approach and why we need to prioritize it in current times.
Meaning Of Student-Centric Approach
Student-centric approach, also known as learner-centered approach, encompasses teaching methods that shift focus from teachers to students. It’s a fresh way of seeing, thinking about and acting on educational methods. It aims to develop autonomy as it puts the onus of learning on students. In other words, they take responsibility for their own learning journeys and are active agents of change in the process.
Student-centric learning focuses on three core aspects of the learner:
Each learner is unique, with individual strengths, challenges, aspirations and interests
Each learner has unbound potential that unfolds in its own way and pace
Each learner has an innate desire to learn and the system in place should help them channel their energy and focus
Learning can happen anywhere and anytime and isn’t restricted to classrooms
Student-centric learning is personalized, competency-based and engaging. It helps learners play to their interests and strengths, therefore helping them engage with their own learning journey. By incorporating interests and skills, this approach prepares individuals for life beyond the classroom. They acquire the skills needed to succeed after graduation and contribute to society.
The Need For Student-Centric Learning
In the traditional teacher-centered approach, instructors typically take full control of the class. There is a unilateral flow of information and instruction. As a result, students lose focus and may miss out on important information. In reality, this approach also leads to students losing interest in the subject. Many find the instructional method boring as there is little to no participation. This is why institutions should shift their focus to learner-centric education.
The crux of the student- or learner-centered pedagogy is that instructors aren’t providers of knowledge; instead, they’re facilitators of learning. In contrast to traditional teaching methods, this approach involves creating and sustaining an effective learning environment. The instructors learn and adopt the best practices from a wide range of activities ideal for fulfilling student needs and expectations.
Student-centered learning has changed the roles, relationships and levels of participation for both learners and instructors. Faculty play the role of facilitators of a wide range of learning experiences while learners take on greater responsibility for their learning outcomes. There is a greater emphasis on developing a deeper understanding of subjects, gaining insight about performance through feedback loops and promoting an academic culture that’s collaborative and supportive.
Fundamental Characteristics Of Student-Centered Learning
An impactful learning experience shares several common characteristics, namely
If educational institutions want to meet learner expectations, they need to create more purpose and autonomy. Standardized learning experiences are ineffective in meeting unique learner demands. Personalized learning helps to connect with beliefs, passions, strengths and past experiences. As a result, learners move toward desired learning goals.
A learner-centered approach helps in creating accountability, both for educators and learners. While the educator is responsible for arranging the necessary resources that meet unique demands and help overcome challenges, learners need to be proactive as they’re accountable for their own learning experiences.
As opposed to conventional methods, the learner-centered approach focuses on collaborative learning. In addition to one-on-one teaching, students often learn in groups. Several institutions also encourage learning pods or group work that makes room for collaborative learning. Diverse perspectives allow for new and better ideas to emerge.
When learners can share their experiences beyond the classroom, it fosters efficiency and accountability. Students connecting with instructors or peers make room for authentic feedback, which doesn’t happen in teacher-centered methods. Learners find meaning in what they learn and it can empower them to think and apply the concepts better.
In teacher-centric education models, there is little to no room for students to reflect on their learning experiences. Reflecting on the process and providing feedback so as to accommodate changes is an important facet of learner-centered education. Monitoring progress and making necessary changes is critical for growth and better learning outcomes.
In short, institutions have the responsibility to create an environment where students are encouraged to take risks for learning and growth. It’s time to let go of fear-based motivation tactics where students learn solely because of the fear of getting a bad grade. Instead, they should be able to enjoy the learning process and participation should be voluntary. After all, no one size fits all.
How To Integrate A Student-Centric Design
Institutions can start creating or integrating student-oriented learning designs in various ways. Most importantly, you need to consider the larger design principles to ensure that there’s a strong mission and culture supporting the process. Consider the following principles while designing your programs:
Student engagement is a top priority
Take advantage of available resources such as technology
Focus on strengthening the student-educator relationship
Ensure that every learner gets equal opportunities and access to resources
Make sure that there are checks and balances to review and monitor progress
Once you consider these essential factors, you can create student-centered classes by:
Helping students set their goals for autonomous assignments
Helping learners become acquainted with new material in their unique ways
Eventually increasing the amount of control (for students) over assignments and new learning areas
Ensuring that there is room for discussion and collaboration among learners
Asking instructors to shift from a leading to a facilitating role
Most importantly, there should be procedures in place that allow learners to gauge their accomplishments and progress toward long-term goals.
Student-Centricity In The New Normal
While online learning isn’t a new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated its integration in several learning institutions. In addition to solving many challenges that in-classroom teaching can’t address, the success of e-learning platforms is apparent with the rise of education technology start-ups. Such enterprises are continuously emphasizing learner-centered methods.
Therefore, there is a new normal in the field of education. If your institution wants to keep pace with changing learning needs, you should implement a learner-oriented approach. Here are some ways to enhance the online learning experience for students:
Courses Should Be Accessible
One of the biggest challenges of e-learning is that there isn’t consistency in the design and delivery of courses. In addition to personalized elements, the courses should be accessible across platforms, addressing unique learner needs. Consider tablets, mobile phones and laptops in addition to desktop computers.
Break Into Smaller Elements
In this age of rapid digitization and information overload, people have short attention spans. It’s especially true for young learners. Therefore, long lectures or webinars aren’t effective. However, topics can be broken down into smaller elements for better retention.
Encourage Social Interaction
While virtual classrooms are highly successful, they may run the risk of making people feel isolated. Learners often want to be a part of a community, which is why it’s crucial for institutions to encourage group discussions and collective feedback. When people feel included, it helps drive knowledge retention.
Therefore, active participation from learners is instrumental in enhancing the e-learning experience.
Change Starts With Faculty
Learner-centered classrooms and courses include students in the process of planning, implementation and assessment. However, the change is only possible when educators or instructors are willing to become comfortable with a change in their leadership style. They need to allow students to be a part of the decision-making process. They need to give more autonomy and believe in the learner’s capacity to lead.
Harappa recognizes that faculty are at the heart of change and are central to an academic institution’s credibility. If you want to achieve transformative learning outcomes for your students, start with your faculty. Equip them with the right mindset and skills so that they can keep pace with changing learning environments. Harappa’s Inspiring Faculty Program is an online-first learning journey that’ll help your faculty become so much more than competent teachers. Behavioral shifts will help them interact, engage and motivate learners with greater success. Schedule a demo now to inspire change!
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