Student-Centered Learning

Student-Centered Learning


Students centered learning, also referred to as child centered learning, is an education approach that focuses on the students needs and requirements above those of the other involved parties in the education process like teachers and the administrators. This approach to education affects the curriculum design, course content, as well as the interactivity of courses in a number of ways. Student centered learning applies a completely opposite concept to the teacher centered learning. The needs, abilities, learning styles and interests of the student are concentrated on in this approach and the teacher’s role in the learning process is a facilitator to learning. The voice of the student is the core driver in the learning experience. This methodology requires the student to play an active and participative role as opposed to the teacher-centered learning which gives the teacher an active role and the student a passive and receptive one. The student in the student-centered learning is required to be active as well as responsible participants in their own learning.

In a number of cases, teachers oppose student-centered learning for examples because it is problematic in practice (Infed, n.d.). The student in the student-centered learning is required to participate in their own learning’s assessment. In short, the student is involved in the decision regarding the methodology used to demonstrate their learning. There is hence need for the development of assessment that supports learning as well as motivation for the approach to succeed. Traditionally, teacher-assigned grades have been in use when it comes to assessment. It is therefore contentious in a way to allow students to participate in assessment.

Role of the teacher in student-centered learning

The teacher’s role in the student-centered approach is one of a facilitator and a coach. The teacher is regarded as the all-knowing individual in the classroom but rather is expected to regard the students as individuals with knowledge and experiences in life. These elements can contribute much to the learning process and with increasing contribution, the ability of the student to remember elevates. The teacher is hence expected to attempt to elicit information, suggestions, answers and ideas from the learners. The teacher is the facilitator because he or she does not teach what they deem necessary but rather base the choice of topic on the student’s interests, abilities, needs and learning styles. The student-centered approach recognizes that students have choices and that they can make decision regarding learning. This is especially why group work is advocated for here because in the discussion process the students will get to negotiate and make decisions (Kanuka and Anderson, 1999). They will work together towards a common goal while the teacher stands aside and guides them on the right way to direct their discussion and ensure they stay within the scope of study.

The teacher’s role as a coach is observed in their responsibility to maintain student focus and ensure the learning experience is successful and that the student receives the most out of the learning experience. The teacher gets to build the confidence of the student so that once the student goes out to the real world they can apply their skills and serve their interests while at the same time inputting into the society. The communicative competence that the teacher focuses on developing in the student is what enables the student to apply use of language effectively in their lives and in the real world. The teacher gets to encourage the students to be interested in English used in the real world through the use of materials such as the internet, magazines and television in the learning process hence ensuring that the student is always in touch with the language in an absorbing manner (Kanuka and Anderson, 1999). The teacher continues to facilitate the materialization of a successful learning experience where the student will emerge as a knowledgeable and distinguished individual. An example is the various tasks that the teacher coordinates that encourage the students to think critically and develop problem solving skills. Such tasks include group work and the various creative tasks that are practiced in the classroom. Compared to teacher-centered learning, the teacher’s role in student-centered learning is seen to be more flexible. Sometimes the teacher is required to control and direct more while other times the teacher will be required to express confidence in the independence and decisions made by the students. When the student is allowed to be involved in the assessment of their own learning the teacher is here showing that they trust value the input of the student in the development of an assessment structure. However, in other cases where the teacher evaluates the needs and interests of the student and comes up with an eventual teaching plan, he or she practices control and seniority.

Misconceptions regarding student centered learning

There are a number of misconceptions that people have regarding student-centered learning but two major misconceptions are widely held. One misconception is that the student-centered teaching takes away the teacher’s role as a prime mover of the education and teaching experience (Committee on academic Programs and Teaching, 2006). Since the needs, interests and learning styles of the student are considered as the elements determining the teaching system, the teacher is seen to be just a facilitator, and their influence on the education experience is inconsequential. It is true that the role of teacher in the student-centered learning is one of a facilitator but the teacher still retains their authority and decision-making responsibility. When the teacher puts the student’s needs, interests and abilities into consideration in the learning process, it is not to change the education experience based on the wants of the student but rather to integrate the wants of the student into the present education experience. When the interests, needs, and abilities of the student are incorporated into the learning system, the student is more likely to learn, gain more knowledge, and remembers the lesson than when taught otherwise. The teacher is therefore seen to still move the educational experience just like in the other education approaches but the only difference is the methodology used.

The other misconception is that student-centered learning is an initiative that is centered on technology in the end increasing the forms of distributive and distance learning and making the classroom-based instruction to be forgotten (Infed, n.d.). This idea is misguided and unfounded as the student-centered approach only applies technology in the learning process as a means to enhance the learning experience. The students as well as the faculty in the student-centered approach are challenged to mutually share in the responsibility or the learning experience. When classes seek to accomplish learning goals through the use of technology and other options beyond the conventional classroom, it does not translate to the abandonment of the older classroom-based teaching practices.


The student-centered learning is an education approach that places focus on the needs, abilities, and interests of the learner. In this approach the student is given an active and participatory role. The teacher’s role is one of a facilitator and a coach. Their role in this approach is flexible in that sometimes the teacher will be controlling and directing and other times the teacher will give the student the responsibility of making decisions and directing the course of their learning. Two misconceptions that exist regarding student-centered learning are the idea that it removes the teacher’s role as the prime mover of the educational experience and leads to the abandonment of the classroom-based instruction once it utilizes technology.


Kanuka, H., & Anderson, T. (1999). Using constructivism in technology-mediated learning: Constructing order out of the chaos in the literature. Radical Pedagogy, 1(2). Retrieved April 22, 2012 from HYPERLINK “” t “_blank”

Learner-centered Teaching and Education at USC: A Resource for Faculty. Committee on academic Programs and Teaching. 2006. Retrieved April 22, 2012 from HYPERLINK “”

The Social/Situational Orientation to Learning. Infed. Retrieved April 22, 2012 from HYPERLINK “” t “_blank”

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