Effective teaching strategies: Towards student-centred learning

  • There are various teaching strategies that can enhance learning, but the broad list is mainly divided into teacher-centred and student-centred learning. The former is a teaching method that puts the teacher at the fore of the teaching process. The latter presupposes a teaching method that concentrates on bringing out the students’ abilities. It is called student-centred because according to Collins and O’Brien:

    Student-centred learning is a learning strategy that allows students to occupy the centre stage as far as learning is concerned; they are guided to develop at their own pace. And, they end up in most cases more developed than when any other teaching method is in use. This method of learning is very student-centric, so to speak. By this, it means that learning usually takes place with the student at the very middle of the process. The instructor allows them to learn independently and merely acts as a coach to them in the skills they need to perform optimally in the use of this study method.

    The following description of student-centred learning gives us another view about student-centred learning: Student-centered learning [SCL] is a teaching method which allows students to determine what they read, how they read, and determine their general approach to study. The SCL approach includes such techniques as allowing the student to be the master of the study process. The method adopts, in place of lectures, an approach that challenges the student’s creative and critical thinking abilities by letting him develop himself by himself. If the student-centred approach is adopted, it usually comes with the attendant advantage that the students approach their studies with more motivation than is obtainable in the use of other teaching strategies.

    Student-centred learning technically challenges the student intending to bringing out the best in them. This learning approach keeps the student at the fore. It challenges the sensibility of the student and taps from that youth and adolescent attribute of always wanting to do the best whenever they are left to act on their own, to prove to the older person that he is equal to the task.

    Student-centred approaches to learning make teaching fun. Every teacher who has adopted a student-centred learning approach finds that teaching is more enjoyable.

    Do student-centred learning approaches lead to improvements in student performance? Several studies have indicated that student-centred learning leads to improvement in students’ performance. For instance, Handelsman et al. (2004) in one of their article in sciences asserted that there is an excellent indication that supplementing or replacing lectures with active learning strategies and also engaging students in discovery and scientific process improves learning and knowledge retention.

    Implementation of these strategies requires more advanced preparation but can move students toward accepting more of the responsibility for their learning and lead to the development of greater capabilities for lifelong learning. In a workshop by Felder and Brent, partakers have frequently raised this question. In a summary of their response, they stated that is vital to limit every interactive activity to a specific predetermined time limit and also choose students to share conclusions or results from their various works. From the foregoing, it is apparent that student learning is beneficial to the student, but this is not without effective teaching strategies. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the effective teaching strategies.

    Strategies for student-centred learning

    The need for learning how to learn is becoming more widely recognised from many different directions. There is a need to adopt the best teaching strategies as far as we can. We encourage student-centred approach, and the adoption of classroom activities such as exercises to make them learn better. Here are some effective teaching strategies towards student-centered:

    Focus on ideas

    Both the students and instructors have roles to play to get things working. Instructors ongoing discussions should be centred on content and skills create learning goals targeted at higher-order thinking as well as generate meaning in narrative threads. The students should focus on relationships among fewer content goals and competencies. Better sequencing; planned progression from simpler to more complex. The goal is to help students graphically, verbally and quantitatively represent systems and problems. Also identify, create and evaluate alternative hypotheses, etc.

    Cultivate productive interactions

    Teachers should teach collaborative skills such as;

    • Positive interdependence: A learning setting where the success of an individual is dependent on the success of the group.
    • Individual and group accountability: It’s one of the fundamental principles of cooperative learning where each member of the group shares in the distribution of responsibility and is accountable to the group.
    • Goal-checking: It’s all about how to measure the level of goal achievement.
    • Debriefing: This is a session where both accountability and goal-checking is measured. Every member of a group (or the group) must be able to report on their progress.

    Teachers also have to monitor cooperative learning. Students on their part should partake in own and team quizzes to help boost learning.

    Think about thinking (metacognition)

    Teachers should question about big ideas, sequencing and scaffolding, aligning content with goals and primarily in teaching, teachers should monitor class progress, student mastery difficulty, and frequent metacognitive prompts. This should help the students in reflections (structured and unstructured). That is thinking towards minutes papers, pre-class assessment, and post-exam analysis.

    These three strategies that could also be termed recommendation are meant to enhance student’s centred-learning. It would build opportunities for students to plan their learning, monitor progress and evaluate both themselves and their products.

    Here are other tips teachers could employ to help them in class.

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