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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Student-Centered Learning?

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Student-Centered Learning?

In schools, students are taught that knowledge is power. Typically, from morning until afternoon, five days a week, students attend classes that they aren’t engaged in. They complete assignments that they don’t understand and therefore don’t benefit from. That being said, what are the advantages and disadvantages of student-centered learning?

There are many advantages and disadvantages of student-centered learning. One advantage of student-centered learning is that it can help students experience learning from a new perspective, where the focus of learning is centered around the student’s needs and interests. In contrast, some students simply do not relate well to student-centered learning despite the teachers’ best efforts. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss student-centered learning and go into more detail about the pros and cons of this method of learning.

What Is Student-Centered Learning?

What Is Student-Centered Learning?

Student-Centered learning is a term that can be used to describe a variety of teaching methods, this method generally puts the student at the center of the learning process. However, traditional learning methods tend to focus on what works best for the majority of students. While this method works for some, those with unique learning abilities or difficulties may fall behind.

On the other hand, students without learning difficulties may just simply learn differently than the rest of the class. For example, if a teacher presents an assignment in a classroom verbally versus physically showing the student how to complete the assignment, this may present a bit of a challenge for the student (and sometimes the teacher) because not all students learn this way. That’s why knowing the advantages and disadvantages of student-centered learning can help someone make the most of either side.

What a Student-Centered Classroom Looks Like

A student-centered classroom looks a little different from a traditional classroom. With the teachers’ guidance, students are allowed to decide the direction of each lesson. They are also encouraged to progress through the lesson as needed. Students are given the opportunity to ask questions, participate in group activities, and lead discussions if it supports the learning process.

Although this is what a typical in-school classroom looks like under student-centered learning, sometimes student-centered learning classes don’t use a classroom at all. Some students learn best through internships and traveling, while others learn best via online courses that utilize technology. It all depends on the student and their specific needs.

A Brief History of Student-Centered Learning

Student-centered learning is a fairly new term, however, it is an idea that has been growing since as far back as the 1930s. During that time, the traditional classrooms were much more structured. This led many parents, teachers, and students to realize that traditional technology is simply not suitable for some students. Over time this allowed for discussions to begin happening and classrooms started to become more relaxed. Teachers started applying methods in the classroom that wasn’t typical of a traditional classroom.

What Are the Advantages of Student-Centered Learning?

Improves Engagement

Improves Engagement

When students aren’t forced into limits, they are more likely to take the lead in their education. This promotes accountability and independence. When learning is fun and interesting, students are more likely to participate in class discussions, learn to work independently, and interact with others. That’s the basis of student-centered learning, the student is encouraged to be curious and learn the information how they best learn.

Develops Problem Solving Skills

When students are encouraged to be active participants in their education, they develop problem-solving skills, and the ability to use their prior knowledge and experiences in an attempt to solve a problem. This response can even go beyond the classroom. Students gain the knowledge and flexibility to adapt their learning to the real world. This way of thinking helps students make connections to real-life experiences, learn to support their conclusions with logical evidence, and learn to question things through a process of comparison and contrast.

Helps Students Transfer Skills to the Real World

As mentioned above, when students adapt their learning to the real world, they gain the problem-solving and critical thinking skills necessary to solve real-life problems. These skills enable students to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing real world.

Encourages Cooperation and Teamwork

In a student-centered learning environment, there are often activities that students complete in a small group setting. This teaches students how to share their ideas in a group setting as well as collaborate and share responsibilities with other students. Through working together, students will learn how to exchange ideas in a socially acceptable manner as well as learn to negotiate with others to come up with an idea or solution that everyone can agree on.

While not all lessons in a student-centered learning environment rely on group activities, it is an important skill for students to learn, especially those who thrive from this type of learning.

Develops Social Skills

Through class discussions and group activities, students learn how to properly communicate their ideas and findings with others. Through communicating, students gain an understanding of how they actually understand the concepts at hand. This is essential to succeeding in the real world where they will be exposed to a variety of ideas and experiences in which they will have to navigate around others’ ideas.

Promotes a Natural Motivation to Learn

Student-Centered learning places an emphasis on validating the student’s point of view. Rather than simply being right or wrong, the student is encouraged to reevaluate their knowledge and understanding of the concept at hand. This helps build the student’s confidence and self-esteem and will in turn motivate the student to take on more challenging problems in the future.

Encourages an Alternative Method of Learning

The traditional method of teaching usually consists of cramming as much information in a student’s head as possible. A student’s ability to absorb the information is then tested through basic pen-and-paper testing. This is where students demonstrate their ability to reproduce their knowledge of the subject in the form of short responses and multiple-choice questions. These types of testing often don’t inspire the student to be engaged more in the classroom.

A student-centered learning approach inspires the student to engage in their creative instincts and develop the ability to express what they know in a variety of ways. It is also shown that a student is more likely to retain and transfer their knowledge in a real-world environment through this method of teaching.

Caters to a Student’s Individual Learning Goals

All students are different learners and have different needs, learning abilities, and interests. The goal of student-centred learning is to structure the curriculum around each student’s specific needs, learning abilities, and interests. This encourages maximum engagement and efficiency of each student. With this in mind, teachers can provide additional learning materials and methods and use individualized assessment methods.

What Are the Disadvantages of Student-Centered Learning?

Problem with Misconception

With less of a focus on lecturing and presenting information to the class in a traditional way, there is a concern that some students may miss important information or misinterpret the information. This issue may cause some students to fall behind or develop the wrong knowledge.

Cooperation and Teamwork

Although student-centered learning is catered to the students’ specific needs, collaboration and teamwork are still a vital part of the student-centered learning experience. The skills learned through collaboration and teamwork are extremely important when applying this knowledge to the real world. However, this method may not be suitable for students who prefer to work independently.

Lack of Control in Classroom

Lack of Control in Classroom

In a student-centered learning environment where students are free to interact, the classroom space may feel disorganized and noisy. This can make classroom management more of a challenge for the teacher, which could possibly cut into instructional time and hinder the learning process. This can also present a challenge for the students as well if they are not able to focus on learning the material because the classroom is chaotic. Thus, defeating the purpose of a student-centered approach to learning.

Teacher Unpreparedness

If student-centered learning is a new experience for the teacher, the teacher may have to take extra time to adjust their teaching methods. Otherwise, teachers may not fully understand the methods and techniques used in the student-centered learning classroom, which may result in teachers and students not fully understanding the material.

Student Prepardness

While student-centered learning can be engaging to many students, others may feel disengaged for a variety of reasons. Students may not be ready to handle this approach to learning. It may take time for the students to adjust to a new method of learning which may hinder the learning process.

The Future of Student-Centered Learning

In conclusion, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of student-centered learning can help a person get the most out of either side. While student-centered learning is still a fairly new teaching method for most people, it has come a long way in the past few years. Some teachers already utilize student-centered learning techniques in their classrooms.

It is possible that student-centered learning has the potential to replace the traditional method in some schools. The benefits of a student-centered approach to learning are undeniable, however, it is still important to recognize the shortcomings of this approach in order to decide which approach is best for both the students and the teachers.

Related Articles – Pros and Cons of the Student-Centered Approach

Written by Beau Mueller

Beau is a teacher, entrepreneur and the founder of The Moneywise Teacher! He started this website to help educators make and save more money.

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