As educators we are always looking for alternative methods and teaching techniques to increase student engagement while at the same time maintaining an orderly and controlled classroom. For centuries, educators have employed the method of teacher-centered classrooms, however, if you want to capture and engage today’s students, try creating a student-centered classroom.
The best way to describe teacher-centered classrooms is traditional education. It’s where the students put all of their focus and attention on the educator. This method focuses on memorization of information and less on an understanding of the information. It’s structured, it’s lecture driven, and includes traditional methods such as outlining and reading out loud. Students work alone and collaboration is discouraged.
If you seek to move beyond a traditional classroom, you must create a student-centered classroom where today’s students can thrive. A student-centered classroom is a place where students are encouraged to communicate, experiment, self-discover, role play, and are rewarded and acknowledged for their successes. Within the student-centered classroom, students can focus on developing an understanding of new concepts and skills and focus less on mere memorization.
If we take a look at a traditional teacher-centered lecture you find that the educator lectures while students sit quietly and listen. Students are often asked to answer questions and these types of questions are typically answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, while collaboration between peers and/or educator are discouraged. When students are placed in a learning environment that is teacher-centered they often lose focus and don’t pay attention, resulting in poor retention.
When a classroom operates with student-centered instruction, students and educators share the focus. To create a student-centered lecture, incorporate structured classroom activities and allow your students to experience the materials not just hear the material. Encourage students to get involved with juicy discussions and group work. Ask them high-order questions, that require your students to think for themselves, analyze and draw their own conclusions. When we create a student-centered learning environment, students are engaged and encouraged to get involved while taking ownership of their own learning experience.