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What are the biggest advantages of student-centered learning?
In schools, we are taught that knowledge is power. Morning till evening, five days a week, 180 days a year, students attend classes they don’t like. They complete assignments they don’t get and dream of finally becoming adults to make their own choices. Unfortunately, a good share of online courses also follows this pattern – to fit as much information in your head as they can. The advantages of student-centered learning is that it helps to see learning from a different angle, where it is fun, engaging and adapted to a student’s needs and interests.
In schools, it helps to increase students’ participation, encourage teamwork, and improve discipline. For online education, this would mean better user experience, convenient navigation, easy access, and the ability to learn what you like while skipping the rest.
It may be scary to loosen the reins and allow students to choose their own learning paths. What if they choose wrong? But in the long run, the SCL approach proves to have many advantages – both for learning and its implementation in real-life situations.
5 Advantages of Student-Centered Learning
Children don’t have a manual when they’re learning to walk. Nor when they mess with different objects to test what they serve for. They just follow their curiosity, try and fail, and then again and again. Besides being fun, this way proves to be also extremely effective, right?
In layman’s terms, this is how student-centered learning works: you take a student’s curiosity and let it grow and blossom, weave around the subject until it gets strong, and then spreads further. When students aren’t forced into limits, they are more likely to take the lead, dig deeper, and join discussions and disputes, which increases overall engagement.
A large part of this process is giving students what they need and want: game time instead of boring cramming, a smartphone-compatible course rather than an old-fashioned one, or even an opportunity to skip home assignments for the sake of doing a personal project. The world has been built by enthusiasts, and SCL nurtures more of them.
Fosters Better Memorization
When we’re bored or reluctant to do something, our mind faces a powerful resistance that complicates thinking, memorization, and causes frustration and procrastination.
SCL approach shifts the focus from traditional cramming-based education to engaging content that has real-life value for students. Rather than teach a foreign language by random textbooks, offer students to write notes to each other in that language. Instead of piling programmers with rules and algorithms, encourage them to create their own game. And when designing a course for engineers, make it minimum theory and maximum actual cases that need creative solutions.
This will help to keep students interested, challenged, and encouraged to use their existing knowledge for new scenarios. Also, they will be able to relate new information with already familiar, which is good for retention.
Trains Problem-Solving Skills
A traditional SCL course would contain a plethora of quizzes, quests, role-playing, and other challenges where students can test their skills and creativity. They usually differ in types and complexity levels. All of this serves to recreate real-life problems students can encounter in their further learning or on the job. By completing different types of assignments, students learn to think critically. They learn to find smart solutions to the problems they face rather than give up without trying.
Stimulates Cooperation and Teamwork
As social creatures, we learn better in a group. But it only seems natural that we all work well in a team. In practice, history knows the cases when self-centered individuals destroyed businesses, governments, and nations.
Since SCL contains a lot of group tasks and assignments, it also fosters cooperation and teamwork, which is good for students of any age. In K-12 schools, for example, SCL can also be the way to help popular students and outsiders smooth things out between each other. For adult course learners, this is a good opportunity to set their ambitions aside and try to work as a team. Businesses often want their employees to work as good in a team as individually, so an SCL course can be perfect for training these skills
Adjusts to the Individual Learning Goals
The traditional system of education is plain and simple. There’s the program and everyone should know it and follow it at the same pace. But all learners are different in their needs, starting levels, learning abilities, and interests. That’s why a one-size-fits-all approach proves to be boring and ineffective for so many students across the world.
The goal of student-centered learning is to build the course around the needs, abilities, and interests of each and every individual for maximum engagement and efficiency. With this idea in mind, teachers and course creators can provide additional materials for individual reading, use personalized assessment methods, or adjust their assignments including a student’s personal criteria, making learning more effective and fun.
According to Hellen Miller, an English teacher from Texas, student-centered learning helped their school to beat student cheating and buying assignment writing:
“I expected that SCL would make my students lazy and reluctant to do anything at all. But surprisingly, the ability to choose how they wanted to learn improved their engagement and performance. They were picking original topics for their writing assignments, and even the laziest students impressed me.”
The advantages of student-centered learning are amazing!
There are many learning approaches. Unfortunately, most of them pursue the goal of learning for the sake of learning. And it makes no sense in the big scheme.
The advantages of student-centered learning is to give students what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
It’s based on flexibility, variability of exercises, a wealth of different content, teamwork the practical value of the learned information and skills. It places a lot of responsibility on both students and teachers, but its benefits are undeniable.