What does it mean to be student centered? Can we still consider a lesson student centered if the learner isn’t involved in the planning process? At what level does the learner become involved? These are some questions I’ve been reflecting about for the last day or so. The more I think about learner involvement and student centered instruction, I begin to feel like there is a continuum. On one end we have high student involvement throughout all aspects of the lesson, from planning through lesson evaluation. On the other end, we have low involvement throughout the entire lesson.
Traditionally, I’ve thought that student instruction was somewhere in the middle of these two points. Probably more towards the high involvement than then low, but not all the way to the extreme points. As a rule of thumb, I never go all in to one extreme over the other, but I’m wondering how student centered a lesson really is when the learner isn’t interested in the content being learned?
I understand the fact that the more relevant a lesson is to the learner, the more engaged and committed he or she will be to the learning process. But is that enough? What if the learner sees no value in the content or sees value, but wants to be more involved in the selection and design of the lesson? As I reflect on how I’ve taught in the past, rarely have I considered the value learners place on the content they are engaged with (I’m not going to say learning because I’m not sure they really are learning the content if there is a philosophical barrier between what I’m selling and what they’re buying). The content is important to me, but maybe not to everyone else.
I’d make the argument that if faculty (and probably students too) don’t believe in the content or how it is being disseminated, then minimal learning can take place. I don’t feel it’s enough to be student centered in the way that the learner is actively engaged, or even to the extent that the lesson is hyper relevant to the learner. I think there is another factor involved that is preventing a number of new ideas from being implemented. And I think that factor is full disclosure involvement from content selection, through design, and implementation.
I wonder how many of us that provide learning opportunities for faculty (as well as students) do this on a regular basis? I know I don’t…perhaps it’s time that I start.