A primary goal of education is to prepare students to be engaged citizens, with the ability to use their gifts and talents to provide goods and services that benefit our society. To do this, students must have the tools and space to learn about their unique set of skills, while also gaining knowledge and awareness about the social context in which they live. Student centered learning facilitates the opportunity for students to engage in this kind of exploration and skill development.Student centered learning refers to instructional approaches and programs that address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students. Many approaches seek to support learning that is student centered.
The following are a few examples of learning experiences that facilitate a student centered learning environment:
Personalized Learning Plans
This individualized plan is an educational roadmap for a particular student. These plans take into account the student’s strengths and areas for growth and list items and expectations that will help lead the student to their specific learning goals. These plans are revisited and often revised to make sure they are appropriately addressing student’s needs.
Experiential learning (EL) is the process of making meaning from direct experience, namely, learning through reflection on doing. EL presents students with real-world or simulated situations and asks the to problem solve in real time.
Experiential learning can occur in the classroom but often occurs in an alternative learning environment. After the experience, students reflect on what they did, what they learned, and how they will apply that lesson moving forward.
Experiential learning opportunities allow students to practice problem-solving and critical thinking skills, to explore complex topics, and introduces the idea of lifelong learning. The method facilitates learning at the individual student’s pace, and they process their own thoughts and actions in response to a situation.
Proficiency-based learning is an assessment process based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills expected of them. Students achieve a deeper level of learning when they process their own thought and actions in response to a situation.
Proficiency-based learning can often prevent students from being left behind or "falling through the cracks" since learning plans are created for each student.
These are just a few examples of tools and practices used in student centered learning. While state and federal academic standards still provide a destination, student centered learning allows for school professionals to create unique pathways for each student to meet their individual needs, ensuring that students receive the appropriate resources and attention to make it possible for all students to achieve academic success.