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What are key principles for student-centered learning?
After many years of developing online learning, MindEdge has identified seven principles for improved student outcomes.
- Place the student at the center of the learning experience.
- Leverage existing knowledge and skills.
- Respect the learner’s time.
- Employ diagnostic assessments to ascertain gaps in knowledge.
- Offer varied learning experiences.
- Provide needed scaffolding and practice for learners.
- Measure progress and mastery of learning objectives.
Student-centered instruction focuses on supporting and empowering the student in mastering the skills and knowledge in a given field of study. This requires shifting from the traditional “sage on the stage” approach for instructors to one built around coaching and advising. Students who are engaged, learn. Students who are challenged by interesting learning experiences, learn.
Today’s students often have prior subject knowledge. Whenever possible, educators should capitalize on this foundation, valuing and extending what students bring to the classroom (traditional and virtual).
A well-constructed learning experience lets students know what is expected of them, and focuses assignments and assessments on the learning objectives outlined at the start of the course. Time is precious—avoid the extraneous or off-topic. Let students learn at their own pace.
Assessing prior student knowledge, and identifying gaps, is a valuable exercise for learners and instructors. This can be accomplished through simple diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the learning experience. It helps determine what should be emphasized, and what can be given a more cursory review.
Variety matters: it keeps learners engaged. The jury is still out on whether “learning styles” represents a valid way to categorize how we learn, but offering numerous ways for students to learn—including video, audio, infographics, interactives, assessments, games—appeals to many learners.
Not everyone “gets it” immediately, so it’s important to offer deeper levels of instruction for students who may struggle with new concepts. Whole-Part-Whole learning and adaptive learning are ways to integrate scaffolding and support into instruction.
At every phase of learning, assessing student progress is key. Asking students to demonstrate their mastery of material by synthesizing answers to higher-order questions is one helpful method of measurement.
These principles can be applied in all forms of learning (classroom, blended, online), and can provide a useful framework for developing and designing effective learning experiences.
Copyright © 2016 MindEdge, Inc.