Posts Tagged ‘learner-centered pedagogy’
It’s probably the question I’m most asked in workshops on learner-centered teaching. “What are some good places to start? My students aren’t used to learner-centered approaches.” Sometimes the questioner is honest enough to add, “and I haven’t used many previously.” Before the specifics, here’s some general recommendations: start slowly (for example, don’t add 14 learner-centered strategies to a mostly lecture course); try simple, reasonably straightforward activities first; and define success before implementing the activity. As for those “good places” to begin infusing your teaching with learner-centered strategies, here are some approaches to try.
In November I had the great privilege of interviewing Parker Palmer. If you don’t know his book, The Courage to Teach, it’s one not to miss. If you haven’t read it in a while, it merits a reread. After reading it again, I found new ideas I missed the first time, old ones I have yet to understand completely and others I hadn’t thought about for far too long.
In May I finished a second edition of my Learner-Centered Teaching book. Revising it gave me the chance to revisit my thinking about the topic and look at work done since publication of the first edition ten years ago. It is a subject about which there is still considerable interest. The learner-centered label now gets attached to teaching strategies, teachers, classes, programs, departments and institutions. Like many trendy descriptors in higher education, with widespread use comes a certain definitional looseness. Active learning, student engagement and other strategies that involve students and mention learning are called learner-centered. And although learner-centered teaching and efforts to involve students have a kind of bread and butter relationship, they are not the same thing. In the interest of more definitional precision, I’d like to propose five characteristics of teaching that make it learner-centered.
I’d like to report on a nonscientific study I have been conducting, without human-subjects approval or even a clear research plan. This won’t make it into the research journals, but the results are still compelling.
My “study” has been continuous for over two years. During that time, I have made numerous trips, at random times, from my administrative office to a building on the opposite corner of campus. For nearly three months, I made the round trip twice a day or more. Every time, I have walked through the ground floor of our main general classroom building, which has about 14 classrooms, mostly 30- to 50-person rooms, but also with one 120-person tiered lecture hall. The classrooms are assigned to courses covering a wide range of disciplines, mostly first- or second-year classes.
There are a lot of ideas out there for introducing technology into the classroom. Unfortunately, not all of them are good. During this video seminar we’ll explore some easily implemented technologies that can result in a richer learning experience for your students, and a more rewarding teaching experience for you.
February 29 - Questions about Active Learning
What does it take for an activity to qualify as active learning? How we define active learning makes a difference. For example, if participation is a perpendicular exchange where the teacher asks a question and one student answers, we know that one student had an active learning experience. We have to guess whether that exchange engaged other students.
February 7 - Long-Term Benefits of Learner-Centered Instruction
Often these questions are raised about courses using learner-centered approaches: What if this is the only learner-centered course taken by the student? Is one course enough to make a difference?
There is growing evidence that courses with learner-centered approaches—those approaches that use active learning strategies to engage students directly in learning processes—enhance academic achievement and promote the development of important learning skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to cooperatively work with others. But does the experience of being made responsible for learning transcend that individual course?
December 5 - How Technology Can Improve Learner-Centered Teaching
For faculty looking to create a more learner-centered environment there are always a few bumps in the road. First they need to get used to no longer being the “sage on the stage” and then there’s the adjustment period for students who aren’t used to being active participants in their learning. In many ways, technology
The technological tools available for learner-centered instruction continue to advance, presenting faculty with opportunities and challenges. This seminar provides faculty with a roadmap for matching the best tools to course learning outcomes.
Most of us are being asked to do more—teach more, assess more, report more, publish more. This seminar will help you use your limited time wisely, because it’s done all the heavy lifting. You’ll not only gain new insights into how students learn but also learn about practical and effective teaching strategies that reflect the latest research.