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What is a Student-Centered Learning Approach?

The educational industry is constantly discussing ways educators can teach their students more effectively. While many go back and forth on the pros and cons of a traditional vs non-traditional education, the truth is that some students require different teaching methods. The student-centered approach to learning is one method that educators are incorporating into their curriculum in some form or another.

A Student-Centered Approach in the Classroom

Student-centered learning (SCL) is a teaching method that focuses on creating connections with students’ interests and the things they learn in school. The ultimate goal is to make the educational process more meaningful to students. The best way to do that is by framing lessons in terms of their interests; thus encouraging them to engage more in the material and therefore learn better.

The shift toward giving students more decision-making roles can look very different. But generally, they’ll all have similar characteristics such as more activities, small groups, discussion, and more student-led.

A great example of a student-centered approach in the classroom is letting students determine the final results of a project or assignment. Instead of dictating to the students what the final project should be, the teacher provides parameters and allows the student to base their final work around their topic interests.

SCL may seem to remove the teacher from the center of the classroom; but really, the teacher’s role is instrumental for its success. The approach relies on students working toward their own autonomy that would support learning at a pace they are comfortable with.

Benefits of SCL

One of the major benefits of the SCL approach is that it presents more decision-making opportunities to students which would let them take a more on-hand approach to their education. Students learn to set their own goals then assess and determine how to achieve them. This allows students to acquire important and useful skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and leadership.

In addition, students engage better and are more motivated in their learning in a student-centered classroom environment. This not only helps them academically but also improves relationships between students and educators.

Lastly, student-centered learning offers greater flexibility for small groups or virtual learning, which has become even more important in the past few years. SCL techniques can always be incorporated gradually, making it easier for both students and educators to have the time they need to adapt.

Concerns and Drawbacks

As with any teaching method, there are both advantages and disadvantages. One major concern is reducing the teacher’s responsibilities and power in the classroom. By shifting decision-making to the student, many individuals are concerned that students will derail the curriculum, or look for the “easy way out.” Thus, resulting in diminished lessons and academic outcomes.

While this is a valid concern, if successfully integrated properly, a student-centered approach wouldn’t lead to such a scenario. Teachers aren’t giving all the responsibilities to students, but instead opening the conversation to include more.

Additionally, the challenge then becomes what makes an assignment arduous and useful vs easy and less challenging. Instead of using traditional reports or powerpoints try adding technology for a better application.

Using Minecraft to create a final project doesn’t make it less rigorous; instead, students must creatively demonstrate their topics in a new fun manner that still fulfills their educator’s requirements. It’s a more engaging process that keeps students engrossed in their assignments and gives educators new ideas for student application.

A Student-Centered Approach at Renton Prep

Here at Renton Prep, our student’s educational environment is centered around the success and well-being of our students. We want to challenge them to use their knowledge and skills in creative ways that will inspire their future.

Renton Prep is a Christ-centered technology-driven school where students learn to use their voice to help create solutions. To learn more about our teaching methods or if you have questions about enrollment, please contact us.